Old habits die hard. I got up this morning with the intention of writing a blog post about creating the life you want instead of always reacting to whatever is going on around you. I sat down to the computer… (So far, so good…). And then instead of just getting to it, I opened up Facebook and my e-mail, and suddenly I was in reactor mode again, allowing other people’s agendas to take over. Sheesh! I really need to just grow a pair and do what I want.
I have been realizing lately how much I have let other people control my life. I answer phone calls that come at inconvenient times, I respond to e-mails when I should be focused on something else, and I usually wake up whenever my kids wake up, which starts my day off on their schedule, reacting to their agenda.
From the motherhood standpoint, when we live in reactor mode, our kids can easily become little annoying objects that get in the way of us getting what we want. It’s all their fault that we don’t have the freedom, body, or friends that we used to, right? J And how sad is that? Have you ever felt like you were just annoying to and in the way of someone else? Especially someone you cared about? I know we would never intentionally treat our loved ones this way, but I think that’s exactly what we do to our kids when we are living unconsciously and just reacting to the life events that come our way.
So my question today is, “How do we get out of this unconscious reactor mode, especially if it’s been a way of life for so long that it’s second-nature?”
I love the talk that Deiter F. Uchtdorf gave a while back in the LDS General Conference. (Yes, I’m LDS. No, I will not try to force it on you.) It was titled, “Happiness, Your Heritage, but my favorite part was a section where he focused on creation. Here’s a short clip of some of the highlights.
I’ve thought a lot about this talk in the couple of years since it was given. And I’ve thought a lot about a lot of other things too, including what it means to be a “good mom,” what it means to live consciously, and how to be happy regardless of what craziness is going on around you.
In the last few weeks, it’s all been coming together. In the end, it’s all about making a choice. Do I continue living as a reactor, or do I choose to live as a creator? What path do I really want to choose for my life? What type of experiences do I want to create with my family?
I’ve struggled forever with trying to be a “good mom” and always feeling judged by the people around me, caring WAY more than I should about whether THEY think I’m being a good mom. But you know what? It doesn’t really matter what they think, even if THEY think I’m doing it all right. All that matters is whether I, my husband, and my kids think I’m being a good mom.
Yesterday, as I was laying on the couch with “evening sickness” (I’m about 2 months pregnant and I get my morning sickness at night), I was watching my kids slide down our half-flight of stairs on their pillows. They were having a blast, but I admit, the thought did cross my mind – “What would [fill in the blank] think?” I guess the nausea and exhaustion overrode any worries about what anyone else might have thought, and then I realized that it didn’t really matter anyway. They were having SO much fun. They were safe (relatively). I was watching them and would have intervened if it got out of hand. This was our evening together, and this was how we chose to spend it. And it was so much fun to hear their wild, uncontrollable laughter as they played together.
One of my favorite quotes from Elder Uchtdorf’s talk is, “Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside.” What my husband and I have decided about what WE want to create for our family is what counts. And that’s hard to actually internalize when you seem to be surrounded by “the voice of critics.”
When we live in reactor mode, we are powerless. But when we live in creation mode, we are powerful. Being a creator allows us to live from a space of choice and freedom, making deliberate decisions about the way WE want to live.
If you’re feeling stuck in reactor mode, I think the best antidote is just to start creating. Take a conscious look at your life and really think about (and make a plan for) what you want it to look like.
I want my life to be full of fun activities with my husband and my kids. I want it to include park days and museum days and picnics and snow sledding. I want it to include baking treats to share with each other and the neighbors. I want our home to be a sanctuary where we feel peace, not a place full of unfulfilling junk that clutters up our minds and creates more work. I want each of our rooms to be full of beauty that inspires us and leaves us energized and happy. And much, much more, but it probably only matters to me because it’s MY life we’re talking about. 🙂
If the thought of breaking out any kind of raw ingredient makes you break out in a sweat, IT”S OKAY. What I want my life to look like is OF COURSE going to look different from what you want your life to look like. We are all so different, and our families and traditions can look like a million different things.
So, what do you want motherhood to look like for you? I’d love to know!