“What Are You Thinking?”

Reading Time: 2.5 minutes

“You are not a good mother. You are not doing a good job. You are messing her up.”

These are words I hear too often. No, not from others, but from myself.

These words are my thoughts, or my negative self-talk.

We all have self-talk. The lucky among us experience a plethora of positive self-talk, and the unfortunate among us experience negative self-talk. Research indicates self-talk begins to form in the early years as our core beliefs, which are largely influenced by messages we receive from our primary caregivers, take shape.

My childhood was traumatic. In addition, I was heavily criticized and emotionally neglected. Therefore, I have an abundant supply of negative core beliefs such as:

“I am not good enough.”

“I do not deserve love.”

“Something is wrong with me.”

“I am responsible for other people’s feelings.” 

“I am an imposter.”

“I am a failure.”

Core beliefs such as these spawn self-talk. My self-talk resembles a long train, with each car holding a negative thought. This train is destructive and creates a negative feedback loop with my world.

Most of us have zero awareness a train is racing through our brain. We jump on for the ride and allow these thoughts to affect us. We believe them. We think they are true.

These thoughts make us feel things.

These feelings then make us behave in a certain way.

Consider the following scenario as a common example of this phenomenon:

Scenario: My three year old is throwing a public tantrum because her ice cream “Isn’t like it was the way before!” People are staring.

Thought: “People think we are broken. She is crazy.”

Feeling: Desperate, anxious, scared, mad, sad

Behavior: I have unrealistic expectations of my child. I resort to anger and self-blame. I dislike my child in the moment, because ultimately, I dislike myself. I blame my child because I am unaware of my negative self-talk.

Same Scenario, but with Awareness

Thought: “People think we are broken. She is crazy.”

Awareness: “Hi bad thought. I see you racing through my brain. You can sit down and stay out of my way today. I am NOT jumping on this train. Goodbye.”

New Thought: “She is sleep-deprived and overly-stimulated. I can be patient. I can handle this.”

Feelings: Empathetic, calm, and confident

Behavior: I can now focus on the needs of my child and calmly facilitate her big feelings. I can genuinely validate her and tell her a story about a bad ice cream experience I once had. I can wait out her storm with a calm heart.

When I am able to react with awareness, our connection and self-worth is maintained. For most of us, cultivating awareness and recognizing negative self-talk is a challenge, but we are capable. The human brain is capable.

How can we gain awareness? I will share ideas and techniques in my next post.


Crisp, R. J., & Turner, R. N. Essential social psychology. London: Sage Publications; 2012.

DeLamater, J., & Myers, D. Social psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning; 2011.



A fire in my heart

kendra godfrey 1I came upon Attachment Parenting by accident.

While 8 months pregnant, I searched the Internet for ideas on how to clean cloth diapers by hand. Yes, you read correctly — by hand. We had no washer or dryer and felt too cheap to pay the 75 cents required to wash them.

During my search, I discovered Attachment Parenting, Attachment Theory, the history of breastfeeding, and the vitality of human touch. I was sold.

Attachment Parenting — unlike washing diapers by hand — spoke to me.

No, it actually shook my core and lit my fire.

Upon discovery of Attachment Theory, I defended my master’s research thesis and graduated with a degree in marriage and family therapy. My daughter was born 2 days later. Four weeks after her birth, we were stocked with $20 worth of quarters at a time.

I soon began to see Attachment Theory everywhere. I saw it in my adult client whose mother abandoned her as a child. I saw it in my children clients whose parents suffered greatly.

I also saw it within myself.

My passion for Attachment Parenting grew stronger after my daughter was born. I was fortunate to discover 2 new moms who also shared my passion. We met every week. We supported each other by exchanging ideas and stories, read books such as Vital Touch by Sharon Heller, and dreamed of bringing an API Support Group to Long Beach, California, USA — an urban city crawling with people eager for support and education.

These women understood firsthand the importance of attachment. Like me, they lacked a secure attachment with their own mothers.

We needed Attachment Parenting International (API) to lead the way for us. We needed API to validate what we felt in our hearts, yet had no model of our own. We needed API to give us permission to trust ourselves.

But even more, we needed each other. These women were my lifeline. Their presence provided a cushion for me to land on and a sounding board for my heart. Their support proved to me the importance of interacting with other parents who could relate to my experience.

When my daughter turned 1, we moved to Iowa City, Iowa, USA, in order for my husband to attend medical school. I said “bye” to my tribe, and this proved heavy on my heart.

I longed for the company and support of like-minded moms and embarked on my API Leadership process. Almost 3 years later, I completed my training and started a new support group, API of Iowa City.

The women who embarked on my API journey with me remain close to my heart. We share a passion and fire that continues to drive me today.

This fire will not die — my heart will not let it. My fire is fueled by others who are burdened with the troubles of life and need tools to cope as a parent. My fire is fueled by parents seeking a better way, yet who feel at a loss for ideas and resources.

Mostly, my fire is fueled by families practicing Attachment Parenting. The closeness and security surrounding these families expands my heart and allows me to stretch even further to better myself as a mother and to continue to help others.

It is families such as yours that give me hope for this world, and hope for my daughter. Our hearts thank you.