New moms, older moms, EVERY mom experiences Mom Guilt.
Those feelings that you aren’t doing enough, that you don’t have enough, that you aren’t there enough. And as a new mom, these feelings can feel so intense and debilitating.
- Guilt that you want to spend time by yourself
- Guilt that you don’t play enough with your baby
- Guilt that you work or don’t work
- Guilt that you get frustrated with your baby
The list could go on and on. And on some more. Because as moms, we try our best to be everything we can possibly be for our family. We want to be good providers, good nurturers, good wives, and good daughters.
But Mama, these feelings of guilt don’t have to take over.
FIRST, LET’S LOOK AT ALL OF THE WAYS THAT WE CAN TELL GUILT IS TRYING TO TAKE OVER.
Not feeling worthy
When mom guilt kicks in, we feel like we aren’t enough. We are knocking ourselves down, telling ourselves that we are not good enough and what we are doing is wrong. This creates low self-esteem – we feel bad about ourselves. And low self-esteem can really bring us down.
We try to avoid feelings of guilt because no one wants to feel like they are doing something wrong, right? Maybe we strive for perfection. So, in order to avoid this guilt, we DO MORE. We do things that are outside of our ability to do – we burn ourselves out by doing too much.
Dangerous coping strategies
It’s a cycle. We don’t want to feel guilt, we feel overworked and burnt out, and therefore we search for things that make us feel better in the moment. And sometimes those things can be worse for us, like alcohol, social media, food or even shopping. These unhealthy coping strategies can lead to negative consequences that make us feel even worse, thus more guilty.
Mental health diagnoses
When guilt starts to take over, we might end up with a mental health diagnosis of postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. Our minds aren’t made to be constantly put down, and that’s what guilt does. We are telling ourselves that what we are doing is not good enough, and that can really take a toll on our mental well-being.
SO WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO ABOUT THIS GUILT TO KEEP IT FROM TAKING OVER?
When you find yourself spiraling into a guilt trap, follow these steps to try to work through those thoughts and make your way out.
Whatever you are doing, stop. Take a second to slow down and focus on your breath, or anything that can ground you (use your senses!).
Identify the source of the guilt
Talk to yourself about what is causing this feeling. Is it that you are at work and miss your little one? Is it that your kitchen sink is filled with dirty dishes? Is it that you don’t have the energy to entertain your toddler? Sit with whatever it is that you are feeling guilty about.
Challenge your thoughts
That’s right. That’s why they are called thoughts and not truths. They are simply thoughts. Challenge them by saying “I am enough even if my kitchen is full of dishes.” or “My work is important to me and my family and I will be with my baby soon.” You don’t have to believe those guilty feelings.
Give yourself some love
After challenging those thoughts, don’t tell yourself you were wrong for thinking them. Tell yourself “I am human, I am a mom, and I am enough. What I do is enough, what I have is enough, and who I am is enough.” Remind yourself that it’s common to feel guilty as a mom, but those feelings don’t have to take over.
End with another grounding technique to bring yourself back to the moment.
Take a breath, drink some water, put on some lotion that smells good – use your five senses to come back into the moment and notice that you are okay. You are doing your best, and that is enough, mama.
If you notice that your guilt is just too strong to overcome, please reach out for support. You can find support from other moms through our organization, or reach out to your doctor or therapist to get medical help.
Overall, I want you to know that you are enough. Have patience with yourself and show yourself love, because you deserve it.