How I Changed My Mindset
How exactly did I begin to change my mindset? What motivated me? What tools did I use to begin that shift?
To share that story I feel I need to give you a little more insight into the internal struggles I was having before I decided to make a lasting commitment to changing my mindset. I’ll share here how I felt I had lost my career identity and then blamed my husband, kids, or others for my emotional instability and frustration while struggling with the challenges of living with autoimmunity.
I’ll tell you how, despite that identity loss, I began to regain a sense of my purpose and mission in my life. That purpose and mission has strongly motivated me to commit to continually improving my mindset, with excitement and passion, so I can help others like yourself live a transformed life, not held back by your fears or limiting beliefs.
Loss of My Attorney Identity
In 2008, I graduated from Notre Dame Law School in Indiana with my fiance, moved back home to Portland, Oregon to study for the bar, took the bar, got married, started my first year of law practice, passed the bar, got pregnant, and miscarried. All in one year.
Sound stressful? Yes, and no. It was a wonderful year, full of great big changes. The miscarriage was a difficult way to end the year but I felt blessed to have graduated from law school, married the man I feel I was meant for, started a great job as an associate attorney downtown, passed the bar, and then to begin enjoying a successful first year of law practice.
My husband and I were super grateful for my law job at the start of our marriage in 2008 as he was still searching for his first law job out of school, but we were also open to starting a family early on. After the miscarriage, we gave my body a break but then were able to conceive in the spring of 2009 with our firstborn child, our daughter.
In November of 2009, I left my law career after practicing full-time at a medium-sized firm in downtown Portland, Oregon a little over a year. I enjoyed the attorneys and staff at my firm, the kindness they showed me as a new attorney, working downtown and many aspects of practicing law, but my heart pulled me toward deciding to stay home full-time with our first child rather than find a full-time nanny or daycare provider for her.
My husband had a well-paying job and life was great; though very sleep-deprived for months, we were grateful to be new parents to our beautiful little girl.
After four to five months of being home full-time I began to struggle with my identity loss a great deal. I missed being a practicing attorney, the intellectual stimulation and the social environment of the workplace in a bustling city. Yet I also longed to be with our rapidly growing first child, to nurse her, care for her, read to and talk to her; I didn’t want to hire someone else to take on that hands-on role as her Mama.
It’s a familiar story, no? As moms, we struggle with finding the right balance and what choices to make — we don’t want to feel like we have to sacrifice career for family or vice versa. We know inside we are bright and capable, and we have a deep desire to use all our talents, not just the ones that involve the role we happen to be in at any given time.
While I did take on part-time legal work for my parents’ business which engaged my interest and at times did some contract or part-time work for another law firm later when the kids reached preschool, it never felt quite the same. I didn’t feel truly passionate about most of the legal work I did.
I loved having the ability to stay home with my first child and while being pregnant with our second a little over a year later, but I continued to grieve the loss of my identity in my law career.
It was part of me; not everything about being an attorney was glamorous and interesting but I did miss the intellectual challenge, outside identity and paycheck. I missed contributing to our family’s income in an intellectually challenging career.
When I developed autoimmune symptoms toward the end of my pregnancy with my second child that became full-blown after he was born, I had new challenges to face. What was going on with my health, and would it ever get better?
How could I care for these kids when I could barely walk some days? How could I even take my second child to time-out when it strained and worsened my back flares to pick him up as he was flailing his arms in resistance?
Now the question was not only whether I made the right decision to leave my law career but how could I even be the mom I wanted to be? I didn’t feel emotionally equipped. In fact, I felt entirely inept at times.
Our second child began to have severe emotional regulation issues by the time he turned two, and I didn’t know how to handle it without losing my mind.
The challenge of autoimmunity (both physical and brain flares) combined with the demands of mothering two young children 20 months apart often seemed too much for me to handle.
Looking Without, Not Within
While dwelling on my loss of identity from attorney to full-time stay-at-home mom and dealing with a very challenging child, I would periodically complain to my husband, raising my voice and blaming him for the mess I felt I was in. He had encouraged me to dive into life as a stay-at-home mother but I didn’t feel fit for it.
Always looking to external circumstances as the cause for my pain and struggle.
In these early years of my autoimmunity, a scene would frequently play out in my marriage and family life. I would reach the point of feeling like I couldn’t take it all anymore, and let it all go verbally, blaming my husband, blaming him for the mess that I felt we were in, blaming him for supporting or encouraging me to stay home with our kids when I could be out of the home with a cushy job and fancy income: blame, complain, blame, complain.
I recall calling my husband when he was out of town for a work conference and telling him heatedly that I simply couldn’t take it anymore.
I’d lose control of my words and say things to him that I regretted almost immediately. He’d forgive me, and we would move on, and have happy family times.
Then I would lose it emotionally again, blame him or my kids and lose control of my tongue and behavior, sometimes even in front of the kids. I’d later apologize, and we’d make peace again. It was a cycle, on repeat throughout many years of the past almost 12 years of my married life.
Desire for a Mindset Shift Begins
Throughout this period my husband had been unhappy with his own law career. He decided to start trying his own side businesses and began to seriously delve into personal development books and groups. Meanwhile I was homeschooling our kids, feeling blessed for that opportunity but still often full of emotional unrest.
Watching him begin and continue to listen to personal development books planted the seeds for my new belief that I too needed to change in my mindset in order to improve my life. It wasn’t life that needed to change; it was my mindset.
In the fall of 2017 I recall having yet another emotional breakdown and complain/blame session to my husband, and I asked him what he thought I should do. He told me he believed I too could benefit from some of the materials he was reading or listening to.
One of the first programs he shared with me was Ultimate Edge by Tony Robbins. I was serious about making progress, so I took detailed notes. I thought it was interesting, as this was all new to me and a totally different kind of education than any I had ever received with my high pedigree degrees at Princeton and Notre Dame.
It didn’t stick at first, as I didn’t do it regularly right away. I was more interested in it than committed as of yet. I still struggled emotionally with continual challenges as my husband finally decided to leave his law career and set off on his own business endeavors.
When we had no income for several consecutive months, I again turned to our circumstances and others’ behavior as my go-to reasons for what was wrong in my life.
As my interest and commitment grew deeper within me, my husband began to sincerely support my budding desire to work on my mindset. I recall one sunny weekday afternoon he encouraged me to go to the park to just read a good book, taking time away for myself to work on myself while he watched the kids.
I am so grateful for moments like these. I brought the book he had read called You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero. I took a lot of notes, and it continued to fascinate me, yet I still didn’t put a lot of what was encouraged into practice.
Gradually, my motivation and determination to shift my mindset and work on what I had control over (myself) grew stronger. I tried to absorb more and more of what my husband would pass on to me through Audible audio books: Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Amy Morin’s 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, Steve Chandler’s 17 Lies That Are Holding You Back and the Truth That Will Set You Free, among others.
It wasn’t until as a couple we finally decided to move to a sunnier climate (something my husband had been wanting to do for years but we finally decided was a priority for his and therefore our family’s well-being) in the summer of 2019, to Phoenix, Arizona that I began to truly commit to take charge of my mindset.
One of my greatest joys in my life has been practicing my surfing in Hawaii on family vacations we’ve been blessed to experience together. I love the green jagged mountains above the coastline, the palm trees, the sandy beaches, the warm Pacific waters, the surf culture and challenging myself out in the ocean on a surfboard with the waves coming at me.
I’m living fully in the present at moments like these, in awe of God’s amazing creation, and I think that’s why I love it so much. I had already begun to follow Bethany Hamilton, a professional surfer/wife/mom from Hawaii who lost her arm in a shark accident as a teenager.
I learned about her Unstoppable Year online course in 2019. I knew I just had to join it as I find her to be hugely inspiring, both her faith and her courage to continue doing the thing she loved most: surfing, despite her limitations.
So I began that course and was immediately hooked on all the positive messages about living an unstoppable life. One of the earliest modules was about discovering my “why” for joining her course.
As I wrote down my “why,” I realized that although I had many areas of my life that I wanted to improve, one of the biggest was discovering my passion, something I felt I had never truly discovered at its fullest. I knew there was more within me that remained untapped as a homeschooling mother.
I still had a longing within me to do more, be more, and grow more, in a way that being a homeschooling mother and my spiritual practices or reading was not tapping into.
I loved teaching my kids, the intellectual changes there, forming them, spending that quality time with them, and growing in my faith, but I didn’t feel it was challenging me to grow outside my comfort zone in a way that could have a huge impact on others’ lives and my own family.
I felt that finding a new career passion, an entrepreneurial path perhaps, God willing, would stretch me in unimaginable ways, and ever since, I have been blown away by all that I am learning as I continue to read and absorb all kinds of personal development books or programs.
Sharing My Autoimmune and Mindset Breakthroughs
With the aim of sharing what I have learned in my life with a select group of people who can benefit and then take their own lives to the next level, I have increased motivation to live the kind of mindset I want to help others live.
That work is continual, daily, and mind-blowingly exciting, and it’s never-ending! I love to grow and stretch myself, and I think you will too, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable at times.
I’m so excited to help you make that shift as well, so you too can begin to live your life with passion and purpose from the best of what I’ve learned thus far!
For a glimpse into some of the biggest mindset shifts I have learned and try to practice daily in my life with autoimmunity, as a homeschooling mother and budding entrepreneur, please see my e-book/worksheet, Let Your Purpose, Not Your Fear, Define You with the included “Living Autoimmunity with Purpose: Pledge to Myself” by subscribing to my email list on my homepage.
Here you’ll find insights into some of the best tools I’ve learned so far, tailored to mothers dealing with the challenges of a lost identity, lack of a sense of purpose, and/or autoimmunity, who are tired of living with negative thinking patterns and want to set their souls on fire with passion and purpose!
What steps will YOU begin to take today to ensure your mindset is serving you, rather than pushing you down? Comment below to share the mindset tools that are helping you the most right now, helping you live true to your purpose and mission in life!