Being a stepmom forces us to deal with so many things that are out of our control. Crazy ex-wives, different rules and influences from another household, and the impact of those external forces on our family.
Being assertive and standing up for what we believe is important in life, but as a stepmom, this can make us feel like we are living in a constant war-zone. All that can take really take its toll and make us feel like we have no control over our own lives.
Stepmoms want peace.
In a recent online poll of over 150 stepmoms, almost 50% said that what they wanted most in their stepfamilies was peace. But that peace can be so hard to find amongst all the drama going on around us. Changing our circumstances is often impossible. We can’t control what happens in the other household (and sometimes we can’t even control what goes on in our own).
This inability to control what’s on the outside has lead me on an inward path to peace. This path to peace has relied heavily on mindfulness and meditative contemplation of my life. I’m not a meditation guru… I must admit that I don’t even commit to a daily practice. I use mindfulness and meditation in a practical way that works for me and has allowed me to see results in my family and everyday life.
I’m now so grateful for all the craziness and drama that stepmom life can bring because it’s helped me develop an inner peace that is unshakeable to its core.
What is mindfulness?
In its simplest form, Mindfulness is the practice of consciously placing our attention on something. We are always placing our attention on something, but usually, it’s in a ‘mindless’ way. We are not consciously aware of where our mind goes, and before we know it our daydreams (or nightmares) take a hold of our minds.
We live in fear of what could be in the future or regret of our decisions and actions in the past. We are rarely ever present in the moment. Our attention bounces and reacts from one thing to the next, and we live in this unconscious and reactive state.
When we live in a stepfamily, there is always something going on that we can react to. There is always something that isn’t aligned with our ideal or what we want. Mindfulness can help us accept what is happening, and consciously choose to live in peace. Instead of reacting in the moment and letting our emotions get the best of us, we can take a moment to practice non-reaction. We can act in an emotionally intelligent way rather than react to what it is that is triggering us. When we act from a state of peace, rather than react from an emotional place, we are usually better at achieving what it is we want.
It’s important to remember that mindfulness and meditation is a practice, it’s never something we perfect or “get good at”. It’s not about the end point, rather the journey and experience.
It’s about observing our thoughts and feelings, uncovering our limiting beliefs, and choosing to live in peace. It’s about evolving to become the best version of ourselves that we can be, one breath at a time.
I invite you to try this simple practice next time you feel like your negative thoughts and worries about stepfamily life are spiralling out of control. We can act in an emotionally intelligent way rather than react to what it is that is triggering us.
We can act in an emotionally intelligent way rather than react to what it is that is triggering us.
A Simple Mindful Practice
Here is a short mindfulness activity you can start to practice: Sit or lie down where you can be uninterrupted for a few minutes. If you can’t find a quiet place, pop-in some headphones and turn on some meditation music on YouTube.
Breathe at a normal pace, and focus on your breath. Breathe-in, focusing on the life-giving breath flowing through your body. Breathe-out, focusing on your breath leaving your body and making room for more to fill its place.
Keep focusing on your breath, and do this for 2-5 minutes (or as long as you wish). That’s it, it’s that simple.
You will notice that your mind starts to wander. You’ll start to think of things that happened in the past, plans for the future, judgments of yourself or others. This is all normal. When you become aware of the thought that is happening and taking your attention away from your breath, just re-focus on your breath.
Why on earth would you sit there and do nothing?
It’s so common in our fast-paced culture to look down on this practice of “doing nothing” as something that is futile and useless. But when we practice placing our attention on something (whether it be our breath, or a positive affirmation or word such as “love”), we are practicing the art of non-reaction.
Our mind is exercising, and learning this new skill so that next time something happens to cause us to feel intense emotion as a stepmom, we won’t react by yelling, crying or whatever your natural response may be.
We don’t react and let the situation get the best of us.
But non-reaction is not being a pushover.
Non-reaction in the moments helps us process our feelings from the inside-out and be in a better place to do what needs to be done in order to get our needs met. This is the art of emotional intelligence. This is the art of being a master of ourselves. And it’s from this place that we can begin to find inner peace, despite whatever may be going on around us.
If you feel called to meditation, I’ve developed a set of guided meditations, especially for us stepmoms. The meditations will help you uncover your own limiting beliefs, and start to live from an empowered and peaceful place. You can download two free meditations (see bio) that will help you begin your journey to inner peace and healing.
Being a stepmom is hard, but I believe that it can also be a catalyst for positive change in all aspects of our lives. Adopting a mindfulness practice is just one way we can thrive, both as stepparents and human beings in general.
ANNA de ACOSTA is creator of The Mindful Stepmom series of guided-audio meditations available on iTunes designed to help stepmoms cope with common challenges and feelings faced along their journey. Anna runs online programs and retreats in Peru to help stepmoms overcome negative feelings, build resilience and live in peace. Free meditations and workbook available online at AnnaDeAcosta.com.