Turning around mother’s guilt
Even though I do all sorts of reading about and practicing to better manage my mindset to help me live a happy and healthy life, I still get caught in traps. I thought I’d share a great example of one very recently where negativity was pushing me into a downward spiral until a sudden moment of clarity changed my outlook and, as a result, my experience.
I’d been getting myself more and more worked up about whether I was being a good enough mother to my children. I had got it into my head that I wasn’t spending enough time with them, they weren’t happy and it was my fault.
Nothing much had changed in our day to day lives to lead me to this conclusion except for my own feelings. I was still working the same hours as usual, still being with them in the mornings and doing the school run, still sitting for dinner with them all, putting them to bed and having nice weekends with them. But for some reason, my guilt kept increasing.
On reflection, it may have been because I was struggling with giving all three of them enough individual attention and managing all their homework and music practice each day that I was starting to feel a bit overloaded, but nothing had really changed for them.
As a result, when I was already feeling guilty, I looked at every disagreement or tantrum as ‘proof’ that I wasn’t good enough and they were having a hard time because of me, and of course this guilt meant I then wasn’t managing situations as well as I could. This went on for a good few weeks.
When I shared my fear with my husband, he very lovingly told me I was talking rubbish. There was no reason to feel guilty and the kids were fine. But of course, it’s not enough unless you believe that yourself so I continued to feel guilty despite his very rational view.
Guilt is such a challenging emotion to deal with and it’s one I’m still working on… Sometimes it’s a useful emotion to send you a signal that you need to make changes. But sometimes it is just an unpleasant feeling that you might be inflicting on yourself. In this case, it was my own thoughts that inflicted this misery on myself.
Your thoughts can be just plain wrong
My eldest then went on holiday with one of his best friends and we decided to take the two little ones to the New Forest for an overnight excursion to a kid-friendly hotel. It was in the middle of mentally beating myself up whilst there that I suddenly realised how ridiculous I was being. Here we were, lavishing attention and fun on my very lucky boys in beautiful surroundings and I realised my thoughts were just plain wrong.
I suddenly realised I was falling prey to negativity, even though I was fully aware of how easily you can be pulled into this vortex. I can’t believe it took me so long to recognise it.
I very quickly realised that I was helping no one (including my husband and kids) by feeling sorry for myself and that I needed to very quickly change the story in my mind.
In that moment, I focused on how lucky my boys actually were, and how lucky I was to be spending such a lovely time with them. I told myself that even if I’m not there all the time with them, I do spend a lot of time with them, some of which is great fun, and some of which is filled with chores, homework, music practice and discipline. But that’s just life! I decided then and there to focus on the good stuff and just enjoy the time I was spending with them.
My mood immediately lifted, I felt relieved, and as a result we all had a much nicer time. That was about a month ago and since then I have rarely (ok just one or two small occasions!) felt guilty about how I am in my role as a mother.
This was a very vivid lesson to me about how you can change the lens through which you choose to view life in an instant.
You can change the lens through which you choose to view life in an instant.
What could you change your outlook about?
What are you currently feeling guilty about? What are you beating yourself up about? How can you question your current outlook and change it to focus on the positive?
It’s worth remembering that your thoughts become your actions. Change your thoughts and you can change your actions for the better and free yourself from needless mental anguish.