But it doesn’t have to be that way. Overhaul your thinking and banish the guilt with these three steps.
As I tuck my child into bed, another day in my mummy life is over – and that familiar feeling of failure sinks in. I feel like a terrible mother – I can’t seem to keep up with the kids, the household is a mess, everything just feels so overwhelming and exhausting. It feels like everyone else has their shit together but ME. I feel ashamed and frustrated – why can’t I keep up? The other mums seem to have it sorted. Everyone says I should have a minute to myself to get some energy back – but even that that thought makes me feel sick with guilt.
Unfortunately, this inner dialogue is way too common for mums.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
By changing our mindset we can drastically change the way we function as mums, banishing the feelings of guilt or overwhelm.
Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean putting your goals to the wayside. What it does mean is you’ll be able to celebrate your achievements and progress as you actively take steps forward in your life. Win, win.
This is the proven three-step process I use to change my mindset toward conscious action – and away from the black hole of guilt and overwhelm. Now, you can too.
1. CREATE A HABIT OF USING YOUR INTUITION AND THE WORD ‘KNOW’
Look at the scenario at the start of this blog. I want you to notice how many times I used the word ‘FEEL’. Well, let me give you a definition of the word ‘feel’: it’s an emotional state, reaction or belief – especially a vague or irrational one. Not the greatest basis for making sweeping judgements, right?
So let’s flip the coin. Reread that paragraph, changing the word ‘feel’ to ‘KNOW’ instead – meaning ‘done in full awareness or consciousness’. How true do those statements sound know? Did you notice that shift in your body? Does, suddenly, the idea that you’re a failure not seem so real after all?
It’s not easy to change our awareness from what we believe to be true to having full awareness around what we consciously know to be true – especially when we’ve navigated our motherhood journey for so long using just the feels.
Sometimes, I look at my unfinished to-do list and think I’m a failure – I feel like I’m a terrible mum and a bad partner. I can feel that guilt, overwhelm and failure right in my heart. Ouch. Can you feel it there too?
That’s when I bring my attention from my heart to my head – sometimes by actually physically moving my hands from my heart area to my head. Then I direct my attention from ‘feeling’ to ‘knowing’. Try it yourself today.
2. TAKE CONTROL, RATHER THAN BE CONTROLLING
I admit it, I’m a reformed control freak. It took me a long time to realise that trying to control the outside world was not helping me reach my goals. In fact, it was doing the opposite – causing overwhelm, and then guilt for underachieving.
(By the way, you often underachieve when you are being controlling because – spoiler – you can’t control the outside world.)
Here’s the thing: as mums, so much of what we experience is outside of our control – whether it’s the developmental phase that’s making our kid extra challenging, or a day-care sickness that smacks down the whole family.
But what we do is take control of our actions and our thoughts. By taking small steps, we can manage our feelings more effectively as well as create or break habits.
Whether it’s positive (taking a few deep breaths before you answer your toddler’s whine) or negative (beating yourself up for being a bad mum when the toddler’s whine turns to a full tantrum) – making small but repeated changes will compound over time to create significant and lasting change.
It’s important to note: this process of change is automatic – but progress is not. Here’s where you need to get really clear and conscious about your intentions to make sure you’re heading in the right direction, and away from the overwhelm.
3. MONITOR YOUR PROGRESS
Okay, so I start consciously observing how I see myself and take conscious actions that lead me to change. What’s next? Monitor your progress through self-reflection to collect valuable insights into how you’re actually doing.
Knowing that you are progressing is the best way to prevent feeling guilty and overwhelmed. It gives you the best evidence that things are changing and improving towards how you want them to be (or not – which then gives you a clear sign to make a reroute to the direction you want to head in).
Okay, but how do you monitor it? Now this is the tricky part. Very often (if we’re even monitoring our progress at all) we tend to focus on the external factors – validating words from others, numbers on a scale, or the number of items we DIDN’T get done on our to-do list. But remember, your goal is to shift your mindset.
What we need to measure instead is the awareness around the shift in our mindset. I personally know that my mindset has shifted if I catch myself noticing that I am ‘feeling’ the negative thought (with a lack of evidence) rather than ‘knowing’ the truth about it. When that happens I give myself a pat on my shoulder. Or if I notice a negative thought and I am able to rationalize it and dissolve any negativity around it by focusing on ‘knowing’ what the truth actually is, it puts a smile on my face. J
That tells me I am progressing and my mindset is changing. Seeing this progress helps me to reduce any negative emotions in that moment but also it helps me to prevent this feeling or minimise my reaction to it again in the future.
Ladies, you can only grow and make yourself greater if you start. You can always do something – as long as you don’t do nothing!
Here’s how you can get started.
- Notice the negative thoughts.
2. Give yourself a pat on the back when you do notice them.
3. Observe how much ‘feeling’ as oppose to ‘knowing’ you are doing (and then shift your focus to ‘knowing’)
4. Make conscious decisions about how you want to be, and
5. Recognise your successes – even the smallest ones.
Good luck! You’ve got this!
PS. I’d love to hear your experiences with dealing with guilt and overwhelm, or what you do when you feel like a terrible mum. Please share in the comments below!