Mom Guilt - What keeps it alive and 4 steps to get rid of it.

Apr 28, 2021

If I asked you to list the top 3 feelings that you feel on a regular basis, what would they be? Working with parent clients, I find that the top contenders are guilt, doubt, anxiety (worry), and overwhelm.  Guilt is typically right up there.  There’s even a name for it, “Mom Guilt”.  When you say that everyone knows exactly what you’re talking about.  It doesn’t matter what your background is: if you are a single or divorced Mom or not, if you work or not, if you have money or not...  Mom Guilt is one thing that Moms from all different walks of life can relate to.

I’m quite familiar with it myself.  If you asked me to list the top emotion that I felt on a regular basis for the first 10 years of my kid’s lives, guilt would have been at the top of the list.  And you know what?  It didn’t serve me at all.  The guilt robbed me of so much joy.  And the kicker is that I did it to myself.  There was no one else making me feel guilty.  It was all me…  me deciding that I wasn’t doing enough for my kids, I wasn’t being a good enough Mom.  I can’t list a single benefit that I got from feeling guilty.  All those years, all that time, and I got nothing from it. NOTHING!!

Mom Guilt is debilitating and self-destructive, and it certainly never helps you be a better Mom. So why do we do this to ourselves?

Mom Guilt actually starts in the brain.  Our brains are wired to keep us safe, away from the unknown, and in the community.  It’s how our species survived and evolved.  The ultimate threat to our ‘caveman brain’ is getting left out in the cold and excluded from the tribe, so our brains want to make sure that we fit in and are safe in our tribe.  This has us comparing and evaluating our relationships, watching what others are doing, and looking to others to measure ourselves and what we “should” be doing.

We evaluate every single thing that we do and then assess how we should have handled it better.  Our 'caveman brain' has morphed into an invisible bully, constantly telling us that we are not doing enough, being enough, or that we are doing it wrong… and that brings up guilt.  

On top of that, your brain is also wired to look and filter for evidence to prove your thoughts true.  If you are feeling guilty, your brain will look for more reasons that you should feel guilty which becomes a never-ending cycle of guilt that keeps the guilt alive. It’s debilitating and self-destructive, and you certainly aren’t the best version of the parent you want to be when you are feeling guilty.  

This is how our brain runs on default.  Please hear me on this because it’s important…  Feeling guilty does not mean that anything has gone wrong.  It’s just how our brain is programmed to run by default.

So how do you start getting rid of the guilt?  There are a number of things that you can do on your own when you get conscious and aware of what your brain is doing... This is how you start becoming a conscious parent! 

First, stop judging yourself for your feelings to begin with!  Your brain is running its default programming, just doing its job... I call it “humaning”.

Can you start to just look at what your brain is offering you with curiosity and compassion? Here is one thought that you can try on: “Hmmm, there goes my brain again, wanting to point out everything that I should be doing, and that’s okay.  I trust that I’m a good parent whether or not I do those things and I can just focus on being present right now.”

Second, take the word “should” out of your vocabulary!  “Should” is basically “could” with “shame” piled on top, and it never makes you feel good.  When you tell yourself you should do something and then you do, you still feel like you failed because you should have been doing it all along or sooner.  Consider replacing “should” with “I want to...” or “it would be a good idea to…”. (This comes from my dear friend Dr. Jane Tornatore at everydaylove.me)

Third, ask better questions and shift your focus.  Your brain will answer any questions you ask it. Start asking questions that lead you in the direction that you want to go.  Shift your focus to what you want to consciously create and how you want to consciously show up and parent.  Where your attention goes is what will grow.

Consider some of these questions:

What are ways that I am being a good parent today?

How do I show my kids that I love them?

How can I show up like I want to for my kids?

What lessons do I want to teach my kids by my example?

Your brain will start answering these questions and filtering for ways that you are being a good parent.  Then, you put your attention on the ways that you ARE showing up in the way that you want to.

Finally, hire a coach!  That was what brought it all together for me.  The coach was able to show me what was happening in my brain that I could not see for myself.  I was finally able to release the guilt and change my patterns of thinking, and I became the kind of parent that I always wanted to be!

Now, imagine how much time and headspace you would bet back if you dropped the guilt…  imagine trading guilt for some peace and actually enjoying parenting more.  I’m here to tell you that it’s 100% possible and happens when you start parenting consciously.

If this resonates with you and you would like some help to drop the guilt, you can get on my calendar here.  I am currently accepting applications for my Conscious Parenting Coaching Program.  If you want to drop the guilt and stop parenting reactively so you can have more purposeful interactions and a better relationship with your kids, I invite you to get on a call with me to see if this program is right for you.

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