Failing or Just Flailing?

Every once in a while I feel on top of my game. Everything seems to be going well: the kids are happy, I’m making progress in my goals, I feel somewhat content. Most of the time, though, I feel as if I’m not being successful at all. Sometimes it feels like I’m just failing at everything.

Lately I’ve been in that last category.

Last night, after an afternoon of Avery acting out and not listening, I sat and talked with him a bit. And discovered that, much as I had feared, Avery is often acting out to get attention. He feels I’m always busy doing something else; I’m not spending enough time focused on him. So I made a deal with him: I’ll do better and spend more time with him, and he’ll do better and behave. We’ll work on more things together, so I’m doing what I have to but spending time with him, too. But I hate that I made him feel like acting out was the only way to get my attention. I feel I failed as a mother.

My house is still a disaster area. Our bills are barely getting paid. I’m not making any money with Usborne. My websites are stuck in the same places they’ve been in for months. I’m constantly busy, yet I don’t seem to be getting anywhere. In short, I’m failing at everything.

I know this is a very depressing train of thought. And if I let myself stay on the train I’m going to be very miserable, indeed. Then I really will fail at everything. But how do I get off?

I’ve heard and read in many places that having an “attitude of gratitude” can help keep you upbeat and focused on all that you have, rather than what you don’t. Some people recommend keeping a gratitude journal, where every day you write down something you’re grateful for. I’ve even seen people post these on Facebook. I don’t know if that would help in my situation. But I do know that when I’m in a more optimistic mindset, going with the flow, accepting what I can’t change right away, I feel better.

I think perhaps, instead of expressing gratitude (because I already know and appreciate what I have), I need to celebrate my accomplishments. I’m not talking about tooting my own horn. But so much of what I do goes unnoticed, unappreciated, unrecognized. Perhaps that’s why I feel like I’m not getting anywhere: I see all that still has to get done, and there’s no one there to point out what I’ve already done. Most of the time I don’t get a “thank you” or “good job.” I just go on living. It can be disheartening. So I think that instead of a gratitude journal I’m going to create a “pat on the back” journal. Every night I’m going to try to write down something positive that I did that day, whether it’s spending time with the kids or moving forward in one of my goals. Better than a check mark on the to do list that never ends, this will help me really focus on what I’ve done. And I can give myself my own “good job.”

It’s worth a shot anyway. And if I’m successful, I know this will help keep me motivated and moving forward. The more productive I am, the more productive I want to be. It’s like a snowball. The momentum keeps the progress building. So I’ll keep working. I’ll keep trying. And I’ll thank myself for what I’m doing. Maybe then I’ll stop feeling like a failure!

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