52 Weeks of Happier Homeschooling Week 42: Identify Your Negativity Triggers

You can’t always control what happens in your life, but you can—at least to some extent—control your inner narrative about what happens. 

We all have a constant stream of conversation with ourselves running in our heads all the time—psychologists call it self talk, and we’re often only semi-aware of what we’re telling ourselves. But in between reminders to throw in a load of laundry or pay the sanitation bill, we’re silently opining on everything we do or see all day long. And the tone of this self talk plays a huge role in happiness—the more critical and pessimistic your self talk, the lower your everyday happiness quotient; the more positive your inner dialogue, the higher your overall happiness level.

The key to turning up the positive in your self talk is recognizing when your inner voice gets stuck in negativity. Some signs you might be focusing on the negative:

  • After a great homeschool day, you immediately focus on updating your to-do list instead of congratulating yourself on a successful day full of good experiences.
  • When something goes wrong, you jump straight into blaming yourself: your son’s math skills, your homeschool budget, your daughter’s social faux pas—you are responsible for any problems that happen in your homeschool life.
  • When something isn’t going perfectly, you immediately leap to the worst case scenario—you missed a music lesson, so obviously your child will never graduate from college, have any friends, or have any kind of happiness in life. 
  • You tend to see things as good or terrible—either your homeschool life is great, perfect, wonderful, or it’s the worst, most horrible, awful thing you’ve ever done. You have no middle ground.
  • You keep rehashing problems and negative events—you’re focused on what went wrong, what you did wrong, and what might go wrong so that you’re spinning your mental wheels instead of moving forward.
  • You can’t seem to make any decisions because you get stuck going over the choices again and again in your mind—you can’t teach math because you can’t settle on the “perfect” math curriculum.

Identifying the places where you’re prone to negative self talk isn’t a cure-all—it’s just the first step toward a more positive attitude. But it’s an essential first step toward upping your overall optimism. Only when you recognize your negative thinking can you start to make a mental shift to the positive—and give your everyday homeschool happiness a boost.

Your mission this week: Keep track of your negative thinking. Don’t judge yourself! Just be aware of where you’re ruminating or over-focusing on the negative, and pay attention to possible triggers, from not getting enough sleep or skipping lunch to struggles over history readings or doing homework for outside classes.