Turning Guilt Into Good

Turning Guilt Into Good
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Is mom guilt / mummy guilt taking up too much of your valuable headspace and eating away at your happiness?

How often do you have thoughts like:

I shouldn’t be working – my kids need more attention.

I should be working so we can afford more for the kids / I can be a better role model for my daughter / I can use my brain. 

I didn’t spend enough time playing with my child today.

I didn’t get anything done today because I was playing with my child.

I let my kids eat too much junk / play too many computer games.

I’m too strict / too lenient / too inconsistent.

I didn’t make it to the gym AGAIN.

I haven’t sent out the thank you cards. 

I’ve got nothing decent to make for dinner.

I was so moody and mean last night.

It goes on and on and on….

Some guilt is pointless and soul destroying. We ‘should’ all over ourselves, ruminating over small things that don’t really matter or big things we can’t do anything about.

But can guilt actually serve a purpose? 

Could some of those guilty feelings be a signal to look at parts of your life and see where you might not be living in alignment with your values? Could uncomfortable pangs help you to pay closer attention and motivate you to make changes? Could guilt be the push you need to do things differently?

I don’t suffer from mom guilt very often anymore. I certainly don’t feel guilty doing something for myself because I know it makes me a happier, better mother when I do. (It’s not called Project ME for nothing!)

But when I notice myself repeatedly feeling waves of guilt over something, it’s a sign that I need to figure it out.

I’ll hash it out with my Power Posse or use a Project Me Challenge Solver action sheet and figure it out on paper.

I’m honest about whatever’s making me feel like a ‘not good enough’ mother / wife / daughter / friend (or like my worst version of me) and once I’ve identified the triggers, I brainstorm some ideas to ease the tightness in my chest or knot in my stomach. We all have the answers inside of us and putting a pen to paper unleashes them.

But what about all of those things you feel guilty about that you can’t really change? Plenty of working mothers feel riddled with guilt and suffer from ‘not good enough’ syndrome daily.

I turned to Sherry Bevan on this one. Sherry is the creator of The Confident Mother, helping women get clear on what they really want then finding the confidence to go and do it.

Sherry agrees that guilt exists to tell us that we are hurting someone or doing something wrong. She quite rightly points out that too often it’s our PERCEPTION that we are hurting someone or doing something that we believe to be wrong.

Feeling guilty does not MAKE you guilty. (click to tweet

It could be a sign, ‘I need to let go.’ Or a sign that you’re falling into a mind trap or that there’s something in your life that needs addressing.

Sherry urges women to look at the part perfectionism may be playing in their guilt. Are you being too hard on yourself? Trying to be everything to everyone? Taking on too much and then feeling guilty when you can’t manage to do everything?

Perhaps you have unrealistic expectations about what you can achieve in the hours available?

Sherry says, ‘Guilt is a complex emotion. What is important is that you acknowledge and investigate the guilt that you feel. Then you can decide whether or not that guilt is justified and whether you want to do something about it.

It’s important to appreciate yourself and what you do as a mother. Take stock of your current situation, your strengths, your experiences and your skills. These are different for every woman, for every mother, for every parent.’

Ask yourself:
What is special about me as a mother? What do I do for my child that nobody else does? What are my limitations? What are my boundaries? What stops me doing more or less or different? What are my strengths? What are my special skills?

Sherry has some great resources on her website, including her Back to Work Confidence Essentials guide and the Back to Work 15-Day Challenge.

She also runs an online programme, Working Mum’s Guide to Ditching the Guilt and is offering Project Me readers a special discount. Enter promo code DTGKP for £50 off.

Whatever you do, start to notice that voice in your head that’s telling you you’re not good enough or you’re doing things ‘wrong’. Remind your mean inner critic that you’re doing the best you can with what you’ve got. And change your relationship with some kinds of guilt by viewing it as a helpful signal to figure things out.

Become the project manager of your life and get into the driver’s seat. You’re in control of your own happiness and persistent mom guilt will only zap your energy and wear you down. Show yourself the compassion and love that you deserve and stop beating yourself up. You’re doing much better than you think.

The Project Me Life Wheel® is a great way to look at the 8 key areas of your life and what needs your focus first. It comes with full driving instructions so you can give it a spin straight away. Just pop your name and email into the box below then check your inbox (including your junk / promotions folders).

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I’m passionate about helping you find a happier balance. Take this free gift – and let me know how it works for you.

In the comments below, let Sherry and I know: What are your most common guilt triggers? Also share one of your mothering strengths! We know you have plenty. 

 

Kelly Pietrangeli

Kelly Pietrangeli

Mama Motivator at Project Me
Kelly Pietrangeli is the creator of Project Me for Busy Mothers, helping women find a happier balance between the kids - and everything else.

Mixing practicality with self-awareness, Kelly helps mothers get on top of their endless to-do’s, set goals and improve their lives one small step at a time.

Grab her free Life Wheel Tool for discovering what needs your focus first.
Kelly Pietrangeli
Tell Us What You Think.

18 Responses to Turning Guilt Into Good

  1. Marie says:

    Great article. I am so much better at dropping guilt since I started following Project Me and making a monthly date with myself – 7 months in a row now! I now understand that it’s not selfish to take time for me and it does make me a better mum. I also use that time to plan things out in my life using your life wheel and taking the time to do this helps me and my family in so many ways. My guilt trigger lately has been not making time for exercise. My mothering strength is that I am funny and I can make my kids laugh and I think that makes a difference. We are not always so serious! Thank you Kelly 🙂

  2. Samantha says:

    I feel guilty over way too many things. I am going to take your advice and stop trying to be perfect and taking on too much and then feeling bad when I can’t do it to the standards I expect of myself. I have used your challenge solver worksheet and think it’s great. I need to print many so I have them ready.

    My mothering strength I guess is that I am a pretty good listener. My son talks and talks and talks and I listen listen listen! I have learned to be much more patient.

    • Sue says:

      Samantha I have a chatterbox too! Patience is not one of my virtues but something I am working on.

      Another great post Kelly. You always write about whatever is on my mind. I need to stop feeling so guilty about the house not looking perfect or the meals not being homemade every night or feeling too tired for my husband after the kids are in bed. I have three under 6 years old and it’s hard work. Thanks for reminding me that I’m doing my best. I know it will get easier. x

    • Sherry Bevan says:

      Listening is such an important and valuable skill. Your son will really benefit from having a mum who listens.

      • Sherry Bevan says:

        Wow, Sue, three under 6 years old. That IS hard work. You are doing your best and that is what counts.

        • I’ll echo that! When your kids are still young and need so much of your physical time and energy it’s extra important to let yourself off the hook A LOT. Use the tools and resources to help you and keep reminding yourself every day that you’re doing your best with what you’ve got that day. x

    • Samantha, dropping perfection and recognising when good enough truly is good enough will really help you to let go of that unhelpful guilt. Learn to say no.

      I’m happy the Challenge Solver action sheet is a tool you’re using with success! Yes, keep a stash printed out and at your fingers tips for hashing things out on paper. Never in your head!

      Well done for being such a great listener. 🙂

  3. Jackie says:

    As a working mother I really needed to read this today. I never feel good enough at work or at home. I never knew there were any websites specifically aimed at working mothers so I am going to explore Sherry’s website later this evening. Thank you! Oh – and my strength as a mother are the eyes in the back of my head – ha ha! I have a sixth sense for knowing when something is going on! 🙂

    • Yes, I was amazed when I first came across Sherry’s site and think she’s a wonderful resource for the Work life area. She really gets the challenges working mothers and mothers who are returning to work face. Love your sixth sense Jackie! I’m sure that comes in VERY handy!! 🙂

  4. Sherry Bevan says:

    I love that Jackie’s strength are the eyes in the back of her head. That was my strength when I worked in corporate though my team members hated it! I’m not a perfect mother and never will be. I give myself permission to not be perfect or irritable or impatient or stressed or tired. My guilt trigger is not paying attention when my youngest is telling me her latest story because I’m thinking about work. She’s a story writer and it’s important that I listen to her stories. My strength as a mother: patience.

    • Love this Sherry. Thanks for your valuable contribution to this piece which will help a lot of women to drop unnecessary guilt and turn other kinds of guilt into good by taking positive action. I wish my mothering super power was patience! Good for you – and your kids! 🙂

  5. Mariah Dolan says:

    I’m totally unrealistic about what I can get done in 24 hours running a business with 4 young children. Thank you Sherry and Kelly for giving me permission to let go of this guilt!

    xx

    Mariah

    • I admire you so much for running your amazing business with 4 little ones Mariah. It’s hard when you want to achieve so much in a day and are restricted by your time and family obligations. Acknowledge all frustration, see if any of it can be alleviated through inspired action and whatever can’t, breathe and let it go. You have plenty of time ahead of you to achieve ALL that you want!

      Use this mantra: “I have plenty of time.” xx

      • Sherry Bevan says:

        I echo what Kelly says here … acknowledge what you feel. It’s ok to feel cross, frustrated, overwhelmed, exhausted. That doesn’t make us any less a mother or any less a business woman. Simply human.

    • Sherry Bevan says:

      So often our unexpectations are unrealistic. Sometimes that’s because we remember that when we were younger or before we had children, we could get so much more done. And I know from experience that when you run your own business, it’s not so much work-life balance, more of a work-life blend. Running a business with 2 children is tough! Hats off to you for doing it with 4 young children.

  6. Erika Chotai says:

    Hi,

    This was so gooood!!! Got deep into my soul like a yummy apple cake.
    Yes, I am a good mummy!!! 🙂

    Triggers:
    my parents. Just the thought os them, or any other threat to my son’s safety (used to be mother-in-law, but now the relationship with my kids’ father has gotten better, so there is less fear on that angle, too.)

    My strength: I incorporate (is that a correctly spelled word?) with my own visions of the future, what is needed for my kids. I think I’ve managed to reach out pretty well to other people, for help, when I had no friends and family backing me. I am creative and that helps to create new urroundings and friendships that suit my life right now. “Networking” – thinking New::
    <3

    /Love Erika. ¤

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