Mom guilt is very real. You’ve felt it. I’ve felt it. It affects us as mothers in all kinds of different ways at different times.
Mom guilt is a catch-all term that encompasses feelings of guilt, inadequacy, worry, and anxiety. It is a common term for very real feelings and thoughts that affect all moms.
It arises when moms feel that they are not meeting their own or societal expectations of what a “good” or “perfect” mother should be or do. Remember that perfect social media mom comparison trap? It happens to everyone at some time or another.
When those mom guilt feelings creep up, I want you to know 2 things…
1. You are not alone.
- Moms across the globe have these same types of feelings.
2. The fact that you are worrying about these things shows what a good mom you are.
- It shows that you care and that you are striving to do even better in your motherhood journey.
Mom guilt can manifest itself in so many ways. You may be second-guessing your decisions or actions. You may be feeling down, sad, apathetic. You may feel angry or upset with yourself or others.
There is no one way to feel mom guilt. There is no one way it shows up for all of us.
Noticing the cues in your body can be one of the first steps to doing something about these unhelpful thoughts and feelings.
How has mom guilt shown up for you in the past few days? Where do you feel your worries, frustrations, or guilt? Is it in your head? Do you feel a heaviness in your chest? Do you clench your fists or your jaw?
Notice what you feel and where you feel it. Don’t try to stop it or control it. Just notice it.
What about your thoughts?
What are some common mom guilt thoughts that come up for you?
For so many moms I work with, it’s the “shoulds.”
– I should have done this; I shouldn’t have done that. I should know how to handle this; I shouldn’t have said that.
What is a common “should” for you? When these “should” type thoughts come up for you, what do you do about them?
Common pop culture themes of “self-care” tell you to replace these thoughts with positive statements, to argue with them.
The “good vibes only” culture tells you to not have these mom guilt “shoulds” in the first place.
So when they inevitably happen, what do you do?
I encourage you to notice these “shoulds” and all your mom guilt thoughts.
That’s right. I said the word notice again.
First I encouraged you to notice where you feel these things in your body. Now I’m asking you to notice your thoughts.
Are you thinking, “But I want to DO something to get rid of this mom guilt!”
Noticing your thoughts and your sensations is doing something. You aren’t fighting against the mom guilt anymore.
Have you ever tried to ignore or stuff down these “shoulds” or mom guilt thoughts? How did that work out for you?
I’d like you to imagine something with me…
Imagine you are in a swimming pool, and there is a beach ball that keeps floating right into you, bumping you. What are you going to do about this annoying, unhelpful ball that keeps bothering you? You want to shove it down and make it leave you alone, so you push that beach ball underwater. What happens? It pops right back up! But gosh darn it, this pesky beach ball is ruining your pool-time good vibes! So you shove it down even harder! Push that beach ball underwater as hard as you can!
And then what happens? It pops back up even harder than before, splashing you in the face, and knocking your tasty beverage out of your hand.
What if your thoughts are like this?
The harder you try to avoid, shove down, make them disappear, the more they interfere with your life.
But what if you just let that beach ball float around? Let it bump into you every once in a while. Notice it and move on with your pool time. It might eventually even float away to the other side of the pool and not touch you. Even if it kept bumping you once in a while, you aren’t fighting it anymore. You’ve got your arms free to swim and play in the pool, your attention free to enjoy the company you’re with or your thoughts. The ball is no longer controlling your day.
Are you willing to notice your thoughts and your sensations?
Are you willing to try letting the beach ball just float around the pool?
If it’s new to you, it’s going to be weird or maybe even challenging to just leave alone that beach ball of our thoughts and mom guilt. But, like most things, it does get easier with practice.
When those mom guilt thoughts and feelings creep up, try just noticing them without shoving them down.
You CAN do something about the persistent mom-guilt, and it starts with just noticing your body and your thoughts – and letting those thoughts be!
– Give this some practice and let me know how it goes.