“You’re not disciplining those kids properly!” You’re convinced that your own family members are shaking their heads in disapproval. “Don’t you see how much you’re screwing this up? Your kids are terrible!”

These unwelcome statements threaten to drown out all inner wisdom and understanding. The vicious crow on my shoulder has a lot to say. I can assure you that it’s never particularly useful information. I much prefer the dove on my other shoulder…the part of me that knows I cannot be perfect and I am the product of something much greater than myself.

I am thankful to Susan Kelly-Easton, our instructor for Taking the Stage by the Humphrey Group. Susan taught this course brilliantly and one of her most powerful lessons was how to recognize the voice of the ugly crow. I had no idea this creature was so persistent but he’s cruel and heartless. He spares no one. Even worse, he’s clever and so many of us believe him! No wonder self-sabotage reigns supreme!

Moments of self-doubt and fear creep into my daily life like a nasty virus, threatening to undermine everything I do or say. Without written gospel outlining the do’s and dont’s of parenting, my husband and I do everything we can to “get it right”. Like others around us, we learn as we go by recognizing our mistakes and tightening our discipline methods. So why do I allow what others may think or say influence how I feel about myself as a mother? Oh that’s right…it’s the crow again.

Upon further reflection, it becomes clear to me that meeting the “approval” of others – loved ones and strangers alike – is futile. While some feedback might be useful, the opposing views of others does not have value to me. How does does the thoughts/words of others have any merit on how I should choose to raise my children?

I’m sure you can relate to this feeling. Self sabotage and people-pleasing is a reality for every single one of us in some shape or form. Getting past these vices is a challenge at the best of times. In order to practice what I preach, I need to start right here at home in the depths of my heart. I do this by remembering my underlying commitment as a parent: spend quality time each and every day with your child(ren); tell them “I love you” often, discipline them with tough love and the power of choice and consequences; teach them respect; and show them by example what it means to be true to yourself and what you believe in.

A-ha! Be true to yourself…let go of anxieties around what others might think.  Indeed…this is a teachable moment to myself that I can now pass on to my kids.

What part of your life is being consumed by the offending creature on your shoulder? What lies have you been telling yourself? Most importantly, what can you do about it?