I was driving in the car with my son Max this week. It was the first time in a long time that we were alone. I was listening to a Podcast that my husband had sent to me. His Podcast with Kevin Harrington from Shark Tank is called Sharkpreneur. He had interviewed a very successful mommy blogger and he wanted me to listen to it. As Max and I drove along we were listening to this Podcast together. It struck up a conversation about my mommy blog. I told Max that my mission was to help other moms. I told him I was open to any of his ideas of how else he felt like I could do this. You may laugh at me asking my 13 year old son this question, but he is very bright. He has the same business mind as his father, and I wanted to hear what he had to say. He had just heard about all the ways in which this woman was super successful and all the ways that her blog has grown into so much more. Max’s response to my question blew me away. He tends to do that. He said “Mom, you are helping other moms. You are showing them that they are not alone.” That one sentence is exactly what I needed to hear. Whinypaluza’s tag line – You are not alone.
I want women to know that we are all experiencing similar feelings and going through similar situations. I want women to know that we can band together and be there for each other. I want women to be good to themselves. Women give so much to everyone else.
I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw my friend’s heartfelt post. This blog is dedicated to her. She knows who she is. My hope is that after she reads this that she will feel supported, uplifted and validated. I hope that she will hear her worth in my writing. This is for her.
She was asking her Facebook community a question. I was so impressed by her courage to put her question out there. She wanted to know how to forgive herself for things that she has done or said wrong. My heart went out to her as I read this. I know this friend. I know how sweet she is. I know her caring heart. I know she pushes herself to try to do her best every day. I miss our days of working out together. The response to her post completely blew me away. As I read through her comments, tears started to escape my eyes. I brushed away my tears and pushed myself to call her. I had already asked her permission to call her and use this topic to help other women. I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone and I needed to call her and talk to her. I didn’t want to bother her. I didn’t want to overstep by asking to talk to her. I want to thank her for being willing to talk to me and for sharing her struggle. Asking for help is one of the strongest things that we can do and we both agreed on that.
As she beat herself up for mistakes she has made, her friends surrounded her with love, guidance, advice and support in all of their beautiful comments. I personally asked her what she would say to her daughter’s or her friends who came to her with this same issue? Would she ever want to see her daughter’s beating themselves up like she does? We are modeling for our daughter’s (and son’s) how to treat themselves. Do I want my daughter to hear me say to myself that I am stupid? Absolutely not. Have I said it? Yes! Do I correct myself in front of her? Yes! I have come to find out through the years that women are the hardest on themselves. If we heard the voice in women’s heads, we would probably be astounded by how we talk to ourselves. We give grace and forgiveness to those around us but don’t always give this to ourselves when we truly deserve it. Shouldn’t we be the nicest to ourselves? Shouldn’t we forgive ourselves in the same way we would forgive others? Shouldn’t we be our own best friend?
As sweet and kind as I attempt to be to everyone every day, I told my friend that I screw up pretty much every day. Didn’t we all learn that it isn’t a mistake if we learn from it? Don’t our mistakes help us to learn, grow and evolve? We are human beings who are going to make mistakes. I can guarantee you that.
We tend to have anxiety and depression when we concentrate our attention on what we have done wrong. When our energy is spent on things from our past or what we think may occur in the future that doesn’t create positive emotions. Our brain is just like any other muscle in our body. As I jog on my treadmill, I watch my legs transforming. I see the muscle growing and becoming more sculpted. It is the same exact notion with our brain. Practicing how to think is as important as working any other muscle in our body. The more we practice the more we learn to think a certain way. One of the best examples of this is learning to be present focused. If my brain starts drifting to something that I did wrong in the past, I bring myself back to the present moment. For example, I was in a bad relationship for six years. Of course, it wasn’t all bad, but it was mostly bad. Sometimes I will dream about it and wake up startled and upset. Sometimes my mind will drift back to a bad moment in that relationship. I snap myself back to reality. Thankfully, I didn’t marry him. I remind myself that I got out of that relationship. I remind myself that I picked an amazing husband. I pat myself on the back and stay present focused. I can’t go back and change what is already over. I can focus on today and that I learned and grew from that relationship. I can also teach my children about that relationship and what to look for in a good relationship. There is always a silver lining. My silver lining is that it made me appreciate my husband. My silver lining is that I will teach my children what to accept and not accept in a relationship.
I may drift to worrying about the future. What is going to happen with school? Is it going to shut down again? Is it going to open back up to five days a week? We don’t know. Worrying about it and agonizing over it isn’t going to do me any good. I can only focus on what I have control over today. Today I can still enjoy summer. Today I can make a decision about what I am going to do with my children. Am I going to send them to school in the hybrid model of two days a week or am I going to keep them home and do full virtual? Those are my options in my school district. That is what is going on in my present moment. The more that I snap myself back to the present the more that my mind automatically does this for me. The more effortless it becomes to do. Let’s not waste our energy on the past and the future and let us live in the present moment. Meditation is one of the key tools to learning how to live in the present. My friend loves the app called Calm. Don’t let your brain wander off to the past and the future. Every time this happens practice becoming aware that is where your mind is going and bring yourself back to the present.
Not only can we practice being present focused, we can also practice reframing. When my mind says something bad, I quickly correct myself to say something good to myself. For example, I will tell myself “You have so much weight to lose. I am so sad about the number on the scale.” I will hear the voice in my head and challenge myself to reframe it to, “You are going in the right direction. You are doing great. You are on your way.” I have been challenging myself to reframe to something positive for so many years that it is becoming easier and more natural for me to do this for myself and for others too.
Let’s say that you did something wrong that you are feeling really badly about. What can you do to remedy this situation? You can call the person and apologize on the phone or in person. I know that sounds easier than it is. I also know that you can do it! I believe in you. You are strong enough to take this step. You can write an apology letter. Writing might feel a lot easier to you. You may find that when you call the person and apologize for what you did wrong, they may not even remember the event that you are talking about. Have you ever agonized over something that the other person let go a long time ago? I bet most of us have done that.
I think that when I was younger, I took a lot of crap from people. I let people walk all over me. I wanted to do anything for people to like me. Why did I care so much that people liked me? Why do we care so much if someone doesn’t like us? Why does everyone have to like us? Everyone is not my cup of tea and I am not going to like everyone. That goes both ways and it’s okay that everyone isn’t going to like me either. I’m sure I was even willing to take blame for things that weren’t my fault. The older I get, the nicer I am to myself. The older I get, the more I want to surround myself with people who make me happy and make me feel uplifted. Do you have a friend who you leave and feel drained and unhappy? Do you have a friend who sucks the energy from you or expects way too much of you? Do you have a friend who tends to blame you for things? Why do you think that you need to accept that into your life? I am getting choosier over who I want to spend my time with. We set the tone. We allow people to treat us how they treat us. You may think you need to apologize for something and maybe you did nothing wrong. Think about that one.
What does she need forgiveness for? Did you really do anything wrong? That’s the big question. I am telling you all right now that if I did anything to upset you that I didn’t mean to. That’s never my intention. My guess is it is the same for all of you reading this. My guess is that you didn’t mean to hurt whoever you hurt. Say or write your situation down and let it go. Write it down for yourself and actually bury it. Go in your backyard and bury it and give it back to mother earth. Let it go. Going over things in our mind over and over again is like torture. We don’t deserve to torture ourselves. Someone suggested to write it down and actually burn it. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust – give it back to the earth.
If you are feeling shame or guilt over a situation, I encourage you to take action to make yourself feel better. Rewrite the event how you would have wanted it to go and learn from this. You will do better next time. Go get a journal. Journaling is one of my biggest strategies. I will vent everything down onto paper. I will write it down more than once if I need to. I will read it over and over again to try to get over it. I will go on my treadmill and pound my feet on the treadmill and pound it out of me. I will reach out for support. You don’t have to go through anything alone. Finding a good therapist is always a great idea. Every single one of us can benefit from therapy. Every therapist isn’t for you. You have to feel a connection to the therapist. Having a good relationship with a therapist will lead to your success with that person. It doesn’t have to be a therapist. Talking to my husband, my parents, or my friends always tends to help me. Don’t carry it yourself. You cannot go back and change anything. It is over. We don’t have a time machine to go back and change it. We do however always have the power to learn and grow. Become the best version of yourself not only for you but for your children. If you don’t think you deserve it (you do by the way), do it for your children. They deserve for you to be happy. They deserve for you to mentally be in a good place. We are all worthy of forgiveness.
Are you spiritual? Do you believe in a higher power? Do you believe in prayer? Before I go to bed every night, I say a prayer. If something is bothering me, I give it to prayer. I also believe we were all created to do good on this earth. I believe we are striving to be the best versions of ourselves. We all have obstacles to overcome. I didn’t like how sensitive I was. I didn’t like how I let people walk all over me. I didn’t like my lack of confidence. I’m liking myself in my 40’s. I like who I am becoming. I wish my 44 year old self could go talk to my 21 year old self. Go write a letter. Go tell yourself everything you like about yourself. Tell yourself what you are going to work on. Give yourself a couple action steps to do this month. In a month, go back to the letter and work on it further. I have said things to people that I’m not proud of. I try really hard to think before I speak but I don’t always succeed. I will tell you something, I have learned a great deal from the ways that I have messed up in the past. I’m trying hard to learn from my mistakes, to grow from my mistakes, and to do it differently when similar situations arise in my life.
How to forgive yourself:
- Talk to the person directly and apologize. You can do it!
- Write an apology letter to the person you want to forgive you.
- Write a letter to yourself. What are you going to do differently?
- Journal your thoughts and feelings.
- Write it down and bury it in your backyard. Give it back to mother earth.
- Prayer always helps me.
- Exercise – go pound it out on the treadmill and leave it there.
- Reach out for help from a therapist, a friend, a family member. Don’t handle it alone.
- Rewrite how you would have liked to have seen it gone and learn from this for next time. You will do better next time.
- Stay in the present moment. Leave the past in the past. Learn, grow and evolve from it.
- Think about how you would want your child or a friend to treat themselves in the same situation.
- Focus on what you do right. Practice reframing things.
- Practice makes perfect. Take charge of your brain. The more you practice the more it becomes second nature. Keep your mind on the present. Keep your mind on things you do right.
- Give yourself grace. You are human and allowed to make mistakes.
- Don’t take full blame. It takes two to tango. Make sure everyone is taking responsibility for their part in the situation.
- Meditation to help you learn to be more present focused and to not dwell on the past or to worry about the future.
- Know that this is a highly charged time in our lives. We feel more stressed than we usually do, and it can take a toll on our ability to cope and problem solve. This means we need to be even easier on ourselves.
- Know that you are not alone. We all need to forgive ourselves. You are not the only one. If you are reading this, find something to forgive yourself for. That is my challenge to you today.
My hope is that my friend read this and is smiling. I hope that she knows how much she is worth. I hope she knows how much her two beautiful girls need her and need her to know how great she is. I hope she doesn’t take anyone’s crap. I hope she has already apologized and forgiven herself. We are human and it’s okay to make mistakes. It is impossible to be perfect. She can’t go back and change anything. She can however learn from this experience and move forward in a positive direction. We shouldn’t take crap from ourselves and we shouldn’t take crap from others. We deserve better than that. I hope that if any of you are beating yourself up for something that today you can let it go. I hope that you can teach your brain to be nicer to you. If we could hear the tape in your head, I hope it is saying something nice. The present is a gift. Use it wisely.
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R