Your greatest hurdle to succeeding as a single parent is fear itself for fear has a way of plunging you under the blanket and making you cry rather than encouraging you to persist with your goals. I say this as a two-and -half year veteran mother of divorce who is still battling my fears of:
- Independently supporting three kids,
- Settling in a community without family and friends
- Forcing my freelance business to become a money-producing mill
- And simply living a healthy life. My mechanic tells me incidents of healthy, young people who flop dead. He says it can happen to me. I pray God not.
I gave myself the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org to help me through my new stage in life and used my scientific research skills to unzip serious research on the latest strategies for battling my fears .
Some of this research may help you.
- Elastic-snapping – Some psychiatrists advise wearing an elastic band and snapping it whenever you feel scared about the future. Psychologists say that it works by pairing a mental image with a physical cue (such as telling yourself to stop thinking about death (your mental thought) when the traffic light (the physical substance) turns red). Supposedly, this distracts your mind from anxiety.Other psychologists recommend replacing anxiety-provoking with positive affirmations. So, for instance, I would replace my thought of: “I’m scared. Ill soon have less than a $1000”. To snapping my band and saying “Hold your horses! What can I do to prevent this?”There are, of course, other techniques such as scribbling complimentary notes on the mirror with lipstick, articulating affirmations to yourself over and again until they have to pop in, and sharing your goals with others. Band-snapping never worked for me and I was ok with that. Indeed, research psychologist Daniel Weber says that the very act of telling yourself to stop psychologically forces you to continue. Distract yourself, he says. Swallow yourself up in something else.
- Distraction – I tried that. Now, I found that distraction can be both healthy and less so. There have been times when I have been scammed, and I worry about my children becoming orphans with none to care for them, so I clip in to a YouTube movie which I hate myself for doing. Business research has advised me to keep on with my schedule come Satan or rain. In short, it is purposeful distraction that is crucial.
- Shifting your eyes from side to side – Call this eye-exercises, and it’s the zaniest research yet but neurologically based. Apparently, some cognitive psychologists think that when you sequentially activate both sides of your brain you distract your thoughts so researchers advise shifting your eyes whenever anxiety hits you. You can do this by shifting your eyes from one knee to the other, or turning your head to either side of the room. I did this in the library; my neighbor glared at me. Apparently, he thought I was staring at him. Give the exercise a shot– but try it when no one’s around.
Anyway, these were some techniques for making myself think positively. Distraction works best for me. Do you have any techniques that work for yourself?
 See Hardy, J. and Oliver, E.J. (2014) ‘Self-talk, positive thinking, and thought stopping.’, in Encyclopedia of sport and exercise psychology. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.