04 May Dealing with the Mom-Guilt
Can we discuss Mom-Guilt for a minute? Because it is a thing. I know you know what I mean.
I’m going to tell you an embarrassing story of what happened to me the other day, and then I will tell you some EFFECTIVE AND EASY ways to get rid of guilt.
So – the other day my daughter and I went to visit my aunt. My daughter is in full toddler-mode so she never stops moving. It’s fun but exhausting.
So, she is toddling around their house while my aunt and I are catching up when I hear my daughter say “splash splash”. I turn to smile at the cute thing she’s pretending to do when I see her holding a watering can that was full of water, pouring it ALL. OVER. THE. CARPET.
I jumped up to grab it from her and of course my quick reaction took my daughter by surprise and she started to cry.
So now I’m holding my 30lb toddler in one arm trying to comfort her while trying to help my aunt sop up water with the other, and doing a crappy job of both.
Sighhhhhhh. The challenges of motherhood, right????
My aunt was very cool about it. I apologized repeatedly and my aunt basically said don’t spend another moment thinking about it.
Except I did.
I still felt bad about the mess, and I felt bad for scaring my daughter and making her feel sad when it was a completely normal toddler thing to do. And for a hot minute, I thought that my aunt must think that I’m an awful mother because I didn’t teach her any better. Or because didn’t discipline her. Or because I didn’t clean the whole thing up.
A nice morning visit turned into a guilt-filled afternoon.
The thing about guilt is this:
Guilt without action stays guilt.
Does that make sense?
But if you substitute it with an action that is productive and helps you move on or move forward or grow, then you can not only get rid of it, but literally take an uncomfortable feeling and turn it into a GOOD FEELING. #momwin
And we all can use more good feelings.
Guilt is like anxiety. When we are feeling guilty, we are in our heads, thinking. We aren’t present. We aren’t connected.
And because we aren’t present AND walking around feeling bad because of the guilt, it changes our mood and how we interact with people. Usually our partner and our children.
So here’s some really helpful strategies to transform your mood when guilt is the culprit:
• Acknowledge what happened
• Make amends
• Asking for forgiveness / Say you’re sorry (even to your child, this sets a great example)
• Do something different next time
• Know if it’s guilt or sham
• Decide to let it go
Any one of these will make a difference to how you feel.
Some guilt is really not an issue to anyone other than you. And there’s really nothing to do that would fix it because nothing really happened.
If this is the case, then the action for you is to consciously decide to let it go.
That decision is still an action…as long as you do it.
Now – if your guilt is more like bad feelings about YOURSELF, then about something that happened, then that is shame.
Shame can’t be changed by action. Shame comes from deeper within us and takes more time and work to undo. Shame is when we have an underlying feeling that we aren’t good enough, that we aren’t loveable, that we will always mess things up, that we aren’t worthy.
If you’re feeling like you can’t get out from under the bad feelings – and taking an action isn’t enough then it’s time to get support from someone who can help you overcome the “I’m not good enough-ness” that so many of us carry deep down.
The feeling that will keep showing up and showing up until we believe something different.
It’s time to love yourself enough to finally start feeling good. It’s time to role-model self-love to your children, so that one day they will also make a strong decision that’s best for them.
It’s time to leave the Mom-Guilt behind for good.