A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken. - James Dent
Question #92197 posted on 05/16/2019 9:42 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I need some advice on how to stop judging people!

I'm in a situation that I've never really encountered before. I'm overweight and have usually been the biggest person among my groups of friends/roommates/coworkers. Now, however, I have somehow ended up living with people who are all bigger than me, and it is bringing out kind of ugly thoughts that I'm not used to dealing with. Before, I was always comparing myself to others, but from the point of view of the bigger person, so I often felt more insecure about my body. But now, I've realized that I am that person that I was always afraid of--I find myself internally judging the other people I live with almost constantly about their weight, and I know it needs to stop. I'll find myself thinking things like, "Wow, she's not even trying to dress in a way that's flattering, that looks awful" or "I can't believe she's eating so much junk food, that's disgusting, doesn't she know that it's bad for her?" or "I'm glad that I carry my weight better than she does," etc. Just generally awful judgy things.

I feel like I should know better, because of course I would hate it if people thought those things about me, but it's been hard for me to find a way to stop doing this. Any advice would be much appreciated! How do you guys stop yourselves from comparing/judging others?

-Oh how the tables have turned

A:

Dear Turntables

Ahh, that good old internalized fatphobia. Been there, girl. And it's the worst, because you don't want to be the person thinking the same thoughts that you're afraid that others would possibly think about you, just like you said.

This is something that I also have been working on for some time. Part of this for me is the kind of body positivity stuff that I've mentioned in other answers, slowly learning to accept and love my own body. The other big part for me in working on this is to consciously counter the unkind/fatphobic thoughts. For example, after your brain automatically says, "Wow, she's not even trying to dress in a way that's flattering, that looks awful", follow it up by thinking something like "What she's wearing looks really comfy and I bet she really loves it. Good for her for not letting other's perceptions of what's 'flattering' affect what she wants to wear." Especially in terms of the second thought about "junk food", it has helped me to consider whether I would see anything wrong with what the person is eating if they were skinny. Healthy does not always equal thin, but we often police what fat people eat as "unhealthy" even if we wouldn't give it a second thought if a skinny person's diet was exactly the same. Challenge those thoughts and remind yourself that they have the agency to decide to eat what they want and so do you.

Finally, a big part of my (continuing) journey to rid myself of fatphobia and prejudices as well as bring me toward body positivity was to join a fat positive Facebook group. Having a community of people to discuss this kind of stuff with that knows exactly what you're talking about has been invaluable to me. Plus, they have given me amazing recommendations about where to find jeans that don't wear out in the thighs as quickly :D. 

-Quixotic Kid

A:

Dear Turned,

Lately when I've had the stray judgmental thought, something really strange has happened. I felt the weight of my thought so incredibly deeply as though I were the person whom it was directed at, and was completely horrified at how I could possibly think ill of a fellow child of God. Except I don't really know why I felt this way, or how to purposefully replicate the sensation. It was definitely effective at halting my judgmental thoughts, though.

As far as other advice goes, I think it helps to think of how pretty the other person looks. Make finding something positive about the people around you a conscious effort. Hopefully the focus on the good will naturally decrease the thoughts of the bad.

~Anathema

A:

Dear Turn Tables,

When I first scanned this question in the inbox, I thought you were asking for advice on how to stop juggling people. This seems to happen to me fairly often (like the time I was walking quickly through the JFSB and thought I saw a flyer for the Obama Club and was halfway into a long reflection on how successful that club could be at BYU when I realized it was actually some sort of Drama Club).

But! I can relate, in my own way. I get really uncomfortable around people that are socially awkward. Now, you may think that people, generally, are uncomfortable around socially awkward folks, but this is a feeling that cuts deep for me. For a while when I was growing up, I would try to talk in a way that I thought made me sound cool and different and sophisticated and whatever. In my later teenage years, I realized that this wasn't the case, but to my frustration, it took a long time to grow out of that phase. In the meantime, I was stuck in this stress-inducing limbo where I would routinely blurt out things that made me cringe approximately one millisecond after they left my mouth. To this day, I can remember certain interactions I had with other people that fill me with a deep sense of shame and remorse (and, to be honest, while I've mostly grown out of the habit through conscious effort, it still happens from time to time that I'll try to say something clever in a group setting and end up completely mortified).

So, with that background, it made it hard for me to study around some of the other physics majors in my cohort, because they would say things that were awkward and would make me cringe and dredge up lots of unwelcome memories. And, here's the thing: it's not that they were even saying anything bad. Nothing they were saying was rude or offensive or hurtful to anyone else; it was just a little bit oblivious to social norms concerning conversation and whatnot. So it was basically just a bunch of college students joking around, bonding with each other, and having a good time, with me gritting my teeth in the corner for essentially no reason.

It changed my perception of those people, and my resulting thoughts were not always very kind toward them. I recognized that these thoughts were wrong, but I'll be darned if it wasn't hard to stop thinking them. How did I overcome this problem?

I stopped studying in that area and then graduated from BYU.

Now, before you get the wrong idea: I'm not saying you should run away from the people in your situation. I am pointing out that I actually didn't solve my issue in a healthy way, and I missed out on opportunities to connect with other people and support them and learn something from them, too.

So I guess I don't have a sure-fire solution for you, Turny, but I can relate. And, I can also say that for me, if I'm dealing with unwanted thoughts about any number of topics (stress, anxiety, self-doubt, judgment, etc.), it helps if I just stop what I'm doing and point out to myself that what I'm thinking is wrong. Sometimes, if I'm concerned enough, I'll say a quick prayer and ask for help in stopping these thoughts. And it helps to talk to someone about it, too, which you've already done a little bit by asking us here.

Good luck, friend! I'm sure you'll figure it out, and you'll be a better person for doing so.

-Frère Rubik

Question #92217 posted on 05/16/2019 8:42 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

If I’m honest with myself, children don’t bring me joy but according to scripture they are a heritage of the Lord and happy is the person who has many of them. I have two children with one on the way. I don’t hate them, but I feel like instead of bringing me joy and making me realize who I truly am, I feel like I’ve lost a part of myself, I knew who I was before I had kids (first born when I was 27), and my body is less strong and will never function the way it used to. I do not have depression. How do I become one of those moms who just loves children. My husband works 70 hours a week in Fall, 50-60 in the Spring, and has lots of time off in the Summer. Raising children has brought mostly stress. And as the years go on there will be worry about their well-being on many levels. Are there scriptures I can read about finding the joy of parenting? I feel like I’m either not made correctly or not being righteous enough. I am a stay at home mom who sometimes has musical outlets. I do not want to get a job. Hopefully there’s someone else out there who feels like me.

-My Name Here

A:

Dear friend,

You, dear reader, are a mother. That is an incredible feat. It means you are strong, you are a lover, and you are the hardest working kind of person on the planet. Mothers are really the backbone of society. Your question tells me that you do love your children deeply. 

But love and joy are not always synonymous. 

Children are stressful. They are messy and loud and often disrespectful. They demand constant attention, require unmatched responsibility... and often, it may seem there is no reward. They may not say "please" or "thank you" or "I love you". They might take forever to learn to potty train. They may fight and complain and make your life difficult. Your task list on a day to day basis is nearly incomprehensible, and chances are you won't get everything done. Your body isn't the same as it used to be... but you have created 3 new human beings and brought them into the world... and that's amazing. You may not feel like you know who you are anymore... but you are still yourself. It's just been a while since you've had time to think about that. 

You are also not alone. Even mothers who have always dreamed of having a family feel stress all the time. And that is why I say that love and joy are not the same thing. You love your children, but they will not always make you happy. It may be a long time before you really get to experience the kind of joy that is mentioned in the scriptures. Especially while they are young, kids will more often make you sad, frustrated, exhausted, angry, and anxious than anything else. But those feelings do not mean there is not also love beneath it all.

Someday, your kids will be teenagers and you'll feel angrier and more upset and more disappointed. But those feelings do not mean you don't love them. Those feelings do not mean that you are not a good mom, or that you aren't righteous enough, or that you are doing something wrong. 

I imagine that like nearly all parents, you want the best for your children. I imagine there have been moments when you have watched them learn to walk or speak some of their first words, learn to read, start school, etc. that made you smile and feel happy. My best advice, though I currently do not have any children of my own, is to document those moments that you find that do bring you joy. They may be rare, but they do exist. You may do this by making scrapbooks and taking pictures, or by writing things down in your journal, or by making slideshows with music of your kids. It may even be as simple as trying to think of one thing that day that your kids did that made you smile. Maybe they played nicely together for a while or tried to help with dinner. Perhaps they did something silly. Does they way they wobble when they walk make you laugh just a little? Did they tell you they loved you today? 

The stress of being a mother is overwhelming. From the sentiment expressed in this question, it seems that when you look back and think about your experiences, that is the dominant feeling... which makes sense, it's probably what you feel most of the time. So do most moms. But I think trying to remember the times that your kids have done something (even small, that lasted only a few seconds) that has made you smile will perhaps help you see that your kids do bring you joy, just in small packages. Some days this will be easier than others, but I do think it's possible. 

Someday, they'll go off to college, they'll move out, and you will have time to really focus on yourself again. Until then, I asked a couple of moms I know about how they maintain their identity while being a mother, to help them feel happier and less lost: 

- Set goals, but don't beat yourself up if things get in the way

- Listen to music you liked before you had kids. Dance with them and see them enjoy your music. This helps connect your identity with your kids

- Find other moms to talk to. You can vent and feel like you understand yourself better

- Go on dates with your husband 

- Listen to podcasts & read books to keep learning 

- Accept motherhood as a new part of who you are, but not as a replacement of who you once were. 

- Do things that used to make you happy, but also find new ones

I think it's also a good idea to keep things in perspective. When they fly the coop, you'll miss them, and more likely than not, you will probably (mostly) only remember the good things. It seems that many of the women who feel like you do ultimately do feel joy... it's just a long time coming. You will have learned things you could not have learned anywhere else and felt emotions unlike any other. I believe when the scriptures tell us about the joy of parenthood, they certainly don't mean all the time. Most of the things we do or choose not to do, do not bring immediate joy or gratification. Rather, that comes much later, but we will realize that it was worth everything it took to get there. 

Best of luck, friend. I hope some part of this helped you feel a bit more at peace. I don't have kids, but my mom has 10... and if you email me, I could ask her some more specific questions. Over the years I've found her insight particularly helpful. 

Cheers, 

Guesthouse

A:

Dear person,

That sounds really stressful, to be honest. I think it would be hard to be on your own for over 50-70 hours per week for the majority of the year, even if you love your kids to death. I don't think I know anyone so righteous that they wouldn't experience diminished capacity for enjoying their kids in your situation.

-Sheebs

A:

Dear Mother,

You are not alone. I'm aware of many parents who feel like you. As a parent, I understand what you are feeling because I've felt that and I know my wife has felt that.

You need some time to yourself. You knew who you were before you were a parent. How? You spent time getting to know yourself. It sounds like you aren't spending enough time to get to know yourself. I know that sounds like adding one more thing to the list of chores you have to do as a parent but try to find a baby sitter once a week or once every two weeks and do something for yourself. If you like playing board games, find another person or couple to play games with, maybe your kids can play together. If you like music, try something with that like joining a community choir. I recommend Utah Voices for fun, broadway-type songs (directed by one of my favorite people on Earth), Sterling Singers for spiritual and uplifting songs, or Lux Singers if you really want to work with some very talented singers. I'm not as knowledgeable with orchestras but most of these choirs need orchestral help at some point.

Basically, you need some time away from your kids every once in a while to discover yourself again. It will help you enjoy yourself and your kids more. I know that's easier said than done but if you make it a goal or a priority you are more likely to do it. If you have family nearby who will babysit for free, do that. If you need to hire a babysitter, try budgeting for it so you have money set aside specifically for this time alone. Talk it over with your husband too and maybe do something together (not every time but sometimes). Don't feel bad about needing time to yourself. Getting to know yourself as you are now will help you endure the harder times a little better.

-Spectre

posted on 05/19/2019 2:16 p.m.
In addition to the excellent advice from the writers, it may help this mom to speak to a good therapist, and if she is comfortable with him, to her bishop. The bishop holds the keys to promised blessings, and a therapist can help her deal with the consequences of the stress she is experiencing, including the difficulty feeling joy.

When I was going through something similar, I found joy in observing how the Lord was building and changing me (and my children) in ways I had not expected, even though sometimes it hurt abominably.
posted on 05/19/2019 2:16 p.m.
Are you sure you don’t have depression? I have two children, ages 3 and six months, and I have multiple family members with depression, and I never would have said I have depression until I got to a point where I didn’t want to exist anymore and finally went to the doctor.

I thought I couldn’t have depression because I got out of bed every day and had many happy moments, and I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom (mostly), but it turns out I do have depression! I have been on sertraline (the generic of Zoloft) since January, and it has been LIFE-SAVING. I spend more time looking at my children and enjoying them; I have enough energy (though I’m exhausted) to exercise every day; and I’ve started pursuing things I’m passionate about, like writing, when all I wanted was to sleep or watch TV (good things, but not necessarily filling the measure of my creation).

If you do have depression, it can be a long journey to let yourself admit it, because it can feel so subjective. One of the things depression does is tell you that you don’t have depression, you’re just messed up.

Forgive me if I’m overreaching, but you sound so tired. You’re pregnant, your hormones may be crazy, you are working long, long days and nights, and it can be so lame. I’m so sorry.

I’m so grateful I had people tell me that I deserved to feel happy and resilient, not just to exist. I would seriously consider talking to a doctor or psychiatrist about how you’re feeling. I have done therapy multiple times in the past, and it has been awesome, and medication is being awesome. The one I’m on is safe to take while pregnant and while breastfeeding, and it’s considered preventative because being depressed has such a huge effect on kids.

Also, if you’re up for it, a part-time job could be a “good” compromise between staying at home and working; it’ll get you out of the house, doing something you’re interested in, interacting with people. I’m rooting for you! Y