Whether it comes from our children, our spouse, or the PTA chair, it’s guaranteed as a mother we’re going to feel guilty about something. Life Coach and author Connie Sokol shares how to avoid three guilt traps with effective self-questions.
The Guilt Sponge. We’re human so we will make mistakes. Healthy guilt helps us realize when we need to apologize and change. Unhealthy guilt, however, makes us feel inept, brings low self-esteem, and a desire to consume copious amounts of sugary foods. A simple way to determine which is which is to ask, “Is it mine?”
If it is, pick it up and deal with it. If it isn’t, don’t pick it up! One of our friends had a son getting married this summer. Apparently, the happy duo didn’t realize the page of wedding invite addresses from his mother had more on the back of the sheet. Oops. Instead of immersing herself in guilt over those who were dissed, the mother simply sent out a short email that said, this is what happened, sorry, know that you’re invited and we’d love to see you. No cry fest, no anger bout, no guilt food binge.
The “Less Than” Syndrome. Looking around you see accomplished women, clean homes, and tidy yards. Women who run for office, after training for a half-marathon, right after they bake a batch of cookies. Get over it. If you feel less than, ask yourself, “Is this important to me?” You probably don’t want to do or be half the things you see women do or be. But because they do them well, you feel less than.
Instead, try being a “B+” in life. It’s fabulous! Enjoy not being a neurotic “A” in things that aren’t vital and you’ll have more quality of life. Years ago my preschool daughter was asked to bring a poster to celebrate being “Blossom of the Week.” Good intentions aside, the poster was forgotten until 10 minutes before carpool. Bustling into action she and I made one just in time, except that my carpool friend was not that impressed. Sad to admit, I fretted, I worried, I felt “less than” for an entire 15 minutes until the phone rang. It was the preschool teacher telling me it was indeed the cutest poster that she had ever seen. From that sad experience I learned to relax and remember that it’s a poster (or a science project, or cupcakes), not a Nobel Peace Prize.
The Mary Poppins Mother. Mary was practically perfect in every way with the perfect thing handy in her bottomless bag at any moment. Fairytale. So the neighbor lady has children in music, dance, sports, and honor roll. That doesn’t mean you need to. Stop trying to be the neighbor lady and ask yourself, “What mothering do my children need?” My daughter enrolled in a dance class but I could see it was a wrong fit—they were trophy-oriented and she needed expression and enjoyment. So at the last minute I switched her and she loves it. After one tough day at school, she went to dance and visibly relieved her tension—laughing and dancing. That’s what hobbies should do.
If you’re feeling guilt, simply ask yourself a few questions and before you know it, you’ll be guilt-free.