“A thought is not a fact – a thought is just a thought.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
There it is – simple. Thoughts are not facts.
Once a belief is lodged in our minds, shifting it can be more effort than making a double buggy U turn on a hill, whilst juggling a mobile phone and a latte (yes, I am THAT mum).
For example, this week I was fairly certain that the doctor, the other playground mums and the postman were all united by one belief – that I am a bumbling disaster of a mother. They had reasonable grounds: my lack of organisation with paperwork, my inability to talk a toddler down from a slide and my failed attempts at ‘discreet breast-feeding whilst receiving parcels’ (ironic, as the parcel contained a hooter-hiding scarf).
Most of my time is currently spent trying to stop the toddler using the baby as a trampoline, so my negative assumptions are generally based around the belief that I am consistently bottom of the parenting class. But we hold beliefs about all kinds of things: our personalities, our bodies, what others think of us. It can be tricky to separate a thought from a fact, especially as our brains have a natural negativity bias.
This is where one of my favourite aspects of mindfulness is really helpful. It’s the simple understanding that whatever is in our heads, being passed off as truth, is just a thought passing through. And that thought may be shaped by previous negative experiences, lack of sleep, a morning argument, sad news or whatever else has set us off balance.
Recognising negative thoughts and assumptions for what they are means we’re less likely to react defensively or agressively, or to tell ourselves unkind and unhelpful things.
Putting aside the fact that it doesn’t matter anyway, I am unlikely to ever find out what others think of my parenting skills, unless I get one of those bumper stickers that truck drivers have and stick it to my bottom:
‘How’s my mothering? Please call 0800 ….’
P.S. Does my bum look big in this font?
And the fact is that, even with all the mishaps, I’m doing fine – we’re all doing fine.
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