Reneé Davis, the inspirational author and blogger at Mummy Tries writes frankly and emotively about overcoming adversity in her life and how it’s informed her brilliant book, ‘How Become the Best You’.
Over to Reneé:
I’m the survivor of a dysfunctional childhood. I was abused in various ways, bullied at school, and left home following a punch in the face when I was fifteen. To say I went ‘off the rails’ after that would be an understatement. I spent over a decade with my finger firmly attached to the self-destruct button, drinking too much, partying too hard and wasting far too much energy on negativity.
During that time I had two mental breakdowns, and eventually hit rock bottom. It came with the epiphany that I needed to assess every aspect of my life, and get comfortable with making serious changes if I were going to turn things around, and become the person I wanted to be. So I did just that. After truly making peace with my dark past, I distanced myself from toxic influences and identified my own detrimental behaviour. Then I set about implementing all the necessary lifestyle changes I so desperately needed to make.
Taking my own advice
I documented my journey in my book, Become the Best You, which is part memoir, part self-help. I wrote it to give others a helping hand in identifying the root cause of their own troubles, and get back on track to the life they deserve.
Rock bottom was ten years ago now, and life couldn’t be more different. Apart from anything else, I’m a wife and mum, two things that I once believed I was incapable of being. I have an awesome husband, who is my unfaltering rock, and three amazing children. I also work in my dream job, being a writer. On the surface I ‘have it all’, but curveballs are thrown, and sometimes no amount of positive thinking alone can get you through difficult periods.
I’ve had a few wobbles in the last ten years, including one very recently. Each time I have gone back to my own advice, that is detailed in Become the Best You, and have had a quick and noticeable boost to my happiness levels. Here are five ways to feel better about yourself and your life, I hope they come in useful.
Make peace with your situation
Last summer my eldest daughter Polly was diagnosed with high functioning autism, but the writing was on the wall well before the doctor told us her verdict. Polly’s incredibly poor sleep, multiple food intolerance and on-the-surface lack of empathy were our biggest red flags.
It is said that parents of autistic children experience similar stress levels to soldiers fighting in a war zone. I’ve never been on the front line, but I can certainly say I’ve felt more stressed out in the last few years than ever before.
We’ve had to work relentlessly on getting Polly to a happier place, and at points it’s been completely desperate. One year on though, and we are seeing progress. Incidentally, we’ve opted to send our middle girl Clara to school, which was not a decision that was made easily.
It’s certainly been a bumpy ride, and I’ve had to dig deep to accept our situation on many occasions. Once I’ve accepted it (whatever ‘it’ is), and made peace with it, I am able to concentrate all my efforts on tackling our issues and creating a more harmonious family. I know, without a doubt, that had I not been through the process of making peace with my own childhood prior to having kids myself, that I wouldn’t be capable of being the mum they need me to be.
Identify negative behaviour
This is always the hardest thing to do, because it involves unflinchingly honest self-reflection, and when the chips are down, who wants to do that? I know for me, that taking a long hard look in the mirror, and giving myself a stern talking to can be the difference between a situation spiralling out of control, or me putting a stop to it. I’ve been out socialising more this year than ever before since becoming a mum, and while that isn’t bad in itself, what is far from ideal has been my inability to know my limits when it comes to drinking. Which leads me onto my next point.
Alcohol has always been a problem for me, but it took a long time and rock bottom to come to terms with this. Back then I knew I needed to learn the art of self-control, and imposing a booze ban on myself was the first thing I did. For those who have crossed the line with alcohol, complete abstinence might be the only sensible option. For those who have pushed the boundaries, but don’t think becoming teetotal is the solution, a period of abstinence allows us enough clear-headed time to work out what’s troubling us, and start figuring out the answers to our problems.
For me personally, I’ve also found that after having a break from alcohol I am able to go back to enjoying a glass or two, without feeling the need to overdo it. I’m currently one month into a booze ban, and am feeling great for it. Self-control, in any form, is a brilliant tool to have up our sleeves.
Social media break
In the midst of a tricky time it can feel like everyone else in the entire world is doing better than we are. Social media has many benefits, but it can quickly turn into a hostile place, full of negativity when we are already feeling bad about ourselves. The grass looks so much greener, especially on the other side of a social media fence. Each time I’ve hit a low point, I’ve distanced myself from my feeds, which has had an instant positive effect.
When we are feeling overwhelmed, it can be near on impossible to see all the wonderful things in our lives. At points this year I’ve been convinced that my life was doomed, that my kids were never going to improve, and that my marriage was destined to end up a statistic. Taking a step back has allowed me to break the cycle of toxic thinking, and realise how lucky I am to have all I do.
Become the Best You has solutions for every kind of problem. You can read an excerpt here.
The book is currently on offer for just 99p until Sunday 16th October.