Turning Guilt Into Good
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’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.’
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?
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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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.
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