Inside: Negative self-talk is the reason why moms feel so much guilt. Learn these three simple steps to banish the negativity and learn how to banish the mom guilt. This post contains affiliate links.
Why was I crying?
Why did I feel so guilty?
I had tons to get done at work this morning, but somehow I felt guilty for dropping my son off at daycare today.
I should have stayed home with him longer, I told myself.
I can get some of this done while he’s sleeping tonight, I convinced myself.
I worked through the guilt. I spent the morning responding to emails, phone calls and catching up on paperwork, blog writing and other essentials that ensure that I stay in business, not wasting one second. Then, I rushed off to an elementary school for a group counseling session.
As I rushed off to the classroom, thoughts raced through my head…
Did I set out the meat for supper tonight?
Did I remember to give my son his medicine before I dropped him off?
Am I going to have enough time to call the pediatrician before my next client?
I’m late today so I don’t make it to the classroom; I see the kids already on their way to the lunchroom.
Miss Emily! You’re here! I thought you forgot about us!
if feeling guilty about abandoning my son wasn’t enough, now I feel like I’m abandoning other important kids in my life, kids who need me to be there for them too.
I can’t do it all. I lose if I’m at home or at work.
Other moms can work, raise their kids and make it look so easy, why can’t I?
Ugh, I’m failing at everything…
Now, I’m crying in the hallway surrounded my kids that I’m supposed to be counseling. This is not how I wanted the day to go.
The Impact of Negative Self-Talk
When I find myself putting this kind of pressure on myself and falling into the bad habit of negative self-talk, I have to remind myself about what I learned years ago when I was training to become a counselor: this kind of thinking can lead to anxiety and depression neither of which won’t help me to feel better as a mom.
Do you ever find yourself in this situation? Stressing yourself out over every decision only to criticize yourself for not meeting your high, unattainable standards?
Of course you do. You’re a mom and it seems that this is just what moms do.
Maybe it’s slogans like “Moms don’t take sick days” that make you feel like you have to keep powering through to the point of exhaustion and if you don’t, you’re somehow failing your child.
Maybe it’s your own childhood and the desire to be a better parent than your parents were to you.
Maybe it’s social media that makes you feel like you are somehow falling behind because your kid doesn’t seem to be as well-behaved as those Facebook posts make so many other people’s children appear.
Whatever the reason, it has to stop. You don’t deserve that kind of pressure on yourself. You deserve to be happy and to enjoy the moments you have with your kid.
Stopping the Negative Self-Talk Pattern
To truly enjoy your role as a mother (and protect yourself from unhealthy levels of depression and anxiety), you have to kick negative self-talk to the curb and replace it with more productive thoughts.
When I say “more productive thoughts” I’m not asking you to be Pollyanna. I’m not asking you to twist every negative aspect of your life into unicorns and rainbows. That’s not realistic!
Instead, what I’m suggesting is that you take that unproductive thought, challenge it, and turn it into a thought that’s going to do something to help you.
It may seem difficult at first, but to do this, there really are only 3 simple steps:
Step #1: Recognize Your Negative Thoughts
In order to challenge your negative thinking patterns, you have to be aware that the thought is happening in the first place. Pay attention to the thoughts that fill your mind throughout the day.
Look for signs that you’re starting to think negatively…
- Does your face hurt from all of that frowning or teeth gritting?
- Are you still thinking about something that should be over and done with?
- Are you tossing things around more aggressively than is appropriate for the situation?
If so, you might be caught in a negative self-talk pattern.
Ask yourself, “Is this way of thinking making my life better?” If the answer is yes, then go right on ahead with whatever you’re thinking (as long as you’re truly being honest with yourself).
But, if the answer is no, then identify this thought as a negative thought and move on to the next step.
But sometimes I just want to vent. Can’t you just let me be angry for awhile?
Sure, we all need to have our moments to vent and express what’s really bothering us. If you need to take some time to be angry, then go for it. Just know that the quicker you’re able to identify the thought as negative self-talk and move on from it, the quicker you’ll experience a release from all of that anger and negativity.
Step #2: Challenge the Negative Thought
Once you realize that you’re caught up in negative self-talk, it’s time to challenge that thought process so that you can turn it into something more productive.
Ask yourself, “Instead of thinking this way, what’s something that could help make things better?”
Notice how I didn’t suggest that you just be positive or just be happy? That’s not what I’m talking about here because most people tell me in my counseling practice that just trying to be happy doesn’t work for them. They need something more.
Challenging the negative thought isn’t about just choosing to be happy, it’s all about thinking more productively…
Step #3: Create the Productive Thought
Now that you’ve asked yourself what you can do to make things better, it’s time to turn that negative thought into a more productive one…
Are the criticisms true? Instead of grumbling to yourself about how much you do around the house and how little your husband does, take some time to think about all that he actually does around the house.
Don’t settle for things that make you unhappy: Instead of beating yourself up about the little amount of time you have with your kid, think about what you can do today to make the most of the little time you have with him. Or maybe you can create a plan for how to increase the time you have with him since the current amount of time doesn’t make you happy.
Take action to make things better: Instead of saying to yourself, “My daughter is never going to listen to me” try asking yourself, “What changes do I need to make so that she’s more likely to listen to the things I ask her to do?”
These favorite books from Amazon can also help you banish the negativity.
I know you’re skeptical and maybe you just want to vent and be negative for a while. But my guess is you don’t have the time or energy for this type of thinking that’s just going to make you feel worse. Try these tips out and see what they can do to increase your happiness and help you lighten up on yourself for once!
But the truth is, negative-self talk gets to all of us…hence my crying in the hall. It takes practice and sometimes it gets to even those of us who know how to manage them.
The key is to pick yourself back up, shake off the negativity and keep going.