guilt-stricken

Dear Jenn, 

As a mother of two boys, I could not even begin to comprehend the amount of guilt that began with my first.  Guilt over my career choices, the food I'm feeding them or not feeding them, my lack of patience on some days, the list goes on and on.  Do you have any tricks to battle guilt?                    - Guilt-Stricken


Dear Guilt-Stricken,

Thanks for your question... a really great question that I’m sure many of us can relate to, even those of us who don’t have kids.  It sounds like you have a case of both the beating yourself up and the second guessing yourself syndrome.  And you are definitely not alone. 

Although, I have not had children myself, I can absolutely relate to this question in other areas of my life where I have second guessed myself, tried to always do the right thing and be perfect (especially with my animals, my work, my relationships, my family, what I say and don’t say, my behaviour, etc). When we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get it right all the time,  we set ourselves up for guilt, agony, discomfort, anger, frustration, self-hatred... it feels terrible!  

Whenever I get into this mode I need to remind myself that we’re all already perfect and there’s no such thing as getting it right

The only "way out" of this feeling is through love and acceptance, to go easy and be gentle with yourself.  It’s ok - you are human and you are going to make mistakes, over-react and make choices that don’t work and that’s ok.  It’s all part of being human and living life. 

When you beat yourself up and question your every move, you stay stuck in the guilt pattern.  Thoughts that create feelings of guilt takeover your mind leaving little space for loving thoughts and positive possibilities to emerge.  Give yourself permission to play and experiment with “getting it wrong”. It can be fun to make mistakes, laugh at yourself and also learn from them. Life doesn’t have to be so serious.

When you notice yourself beating yourself up and questioning your decisions, perhaps you could put your hand on your heart and say to yourself, “it’s ok" over and over again.  See if you can bring a warm feeling to your heart.  Recognize this is just a pattern and it will pass.  You are doing the very best you can as a mom in this moment. 

You may also want to ask, "What kind of love do I need right now?" (Patience with myself, time for self-care, unconditional love, nurturance, tenderness?)  And, "How can I take care of myself?" (Take a warm bath, go for a walk, listen to soothing music, hire a babysitter, watch a movie, give myself a hug?)  You may even find it helpful to think about how you would treat your own children if they were feeling this way and treat yourself with the same tenderness.

I love listening to this song by Karen Drucker, I'm Gentle with Myself when I notice I'm being hard on myself or I'm just needing some love and tenderness.

Rather than battling the guilt, make self-love and self-acceptance your remedy - it will help you feel so much better.  And that sweet little part of you that gets judged - it SO needs your love.

Love, 

Jenn xo