Sometimes things come up in the Whinypaluza Mom Group that really surprise me. Issues arise that I didn’t know were issues. It came out recently that a lot of women that I know are feeling like a failure. That made me feel so very sad. I sat with it for a long time thinking about how sad it was for these women to be so hard on themselves. I started to wonder where that voice and perspective is coming from.
I know that they say that our parents voice becomes our voice. That really makes me think as a parent. I don’t always love what I say to my kids. I’ve started to think about that voice in my head very differently in my 40’s. I’m happy to tell you that every year I feel like I’m growing and evolving into someone that I like better. I used to be extremely hard on myself.
I am a parent to three children. I am parenting my kids, but I also need to “parent,” my husband and I. What I mean by that is that I work on my husband’s voice too. I don’t allow him to speak unkindly of himself. I’m really working on how all five of us talk to ourselves. I think frequently how I talk to my children and my friends. I am always trying to lift people up and be supportive of them. I am creating that voice in my own head too about myself. I tell myself every day that I need to be my own best friend. It doesn’t matter how much outside praise we get from others. We have to find it and believe it from within. In fact, I’m starting to catch myself saying things like, “I’m so proud of you,” as an inner voice to myself. I will sit down at the end of a long day and think about everything and give myself a pat on the back. I’m not yelling at myself for what I didn’t do (I used to do that).
I just did prize patrol at school. We sorted prizes that the kids are earning for their Fun Run. One of the mom’s doing this with me felt so badly that she didn’t even register her child. Speaking of which, I better go make a pledge for both my daughters. It amazes me everywhere I go how hard women are on themselves. This wonderful mom had the day off and came in to help the school, but she was criticizing herself for not registering her child for the Fun Run. I wish she was giving herself praise for coming in to volunteer on her day off. I told the mom and grandma helping me how wonderful it was that they came in to help. I love when I see grandparents at school.
- You forgot to make a donation to the Fun Run.
- You forgot it was a field trip.
- You didn’t sign up to volunteer because you were busy, tired or had to work.
- You forgot to sign the permission slip.
- Your house isn’t “clean.”
- Your child isn’t getting good grades.
- Your child is struggling in school.
- Your marriage is struggling.
- You are getting a divorce.
- Your child is upset.
- You can’t get pregnant.
- You hit an obstacle/challenge.
- Your children are fighting.
- You can’t remember the last vacation you went on.
- You work “too much.”
- You haven’t started gardening.
- You don’t like your job.
- You haven’t signed your children up for any camps or activities.
- You feel out of balance in your life.
- Your child got into trouble.
- The IEP at school isn’t being followed.
- You forgot to make a doctor, dentist, vet, etc. appointment.
- You made a decision that you aren’t happy with.
- You’re feeling depressed.
- You didn’t cook dinner.
I could go on and on and on and on with my list above. There are so many reasons that women tell themselves that they are a failure. Maybe you don’t think you are a good wife. Maybe you don’t think you are a good mom. Maybe you don’t think you are doing a good job at work. Maybe your child is complaining that you never come to school like the other moms.
- Comparison is the thief of joy. We can’t compare ourselves to other people.
- Remember that we really don’t know what is going on behind closed doors. Don’t ever let social media make you feel bad. It’s people’s greatest hits. I know I don’t want to put out negativity onto social media, so I try to keep it light and positive as best I can. I think a lot of people do that, so please remember that.
- You are in charge of your inner voice. Change the voice. It took you years to create the negative voice so it may take years to undo it, and practice a new voice, but we can all do this with time and practice and patience. When you hear yourself criticizing yourself, start to identify it and give yourself a stop sign in your head. Criticism becomes the stop sign. Now bring in some of my favorite words of rewind, reset and replace with something nice to yourself. Be kinder and more understanding to yourself. You deserve it as much as your best friend does.
- Remove the word failure from your vocabulary. I couldn’t believe I told my husband that I was a failure because the mudroom was a mess again. That is not acceptable for me to talk to myself that way. My daughter Lillie helps me clean the mudroom frequently. I told her we need to develop a system so that it doesn’t become a total mess every day. This leads me to….
- Solve the problem. If there is something making you feel like a failure that is just telling you to call attention to it. What is the actual problem and how can you work on solving it? If I feel like I’m out of balance than what can I do to fix it. I was feeling like I was working endlessly all day and not having mindless fun in my day. This means that I need to add things to my day that bring me joy and I need to find joy within my day.
- Bring yourself from emotion to logic. Am I really a failure because the mudroom is a mess again? Are you really a failure because you are working too much? Does it deserve the intense word of failure?
- Replace intense words. This was a great conversation with my husband that he learned from Tony Robbins. Our word choices are our reality. I could feel a little sad or I could tell myself I’m depressed. I could feel like a failure, or I could tell myself that it’s okay that I forgot something. The word choices we make all day is the reality that we are choosing to live in. Let us all choose our word choices more carefully.
- Become aware of distorted thinking: all or nothing thinking, overgeneralization, mental filter, disqualifying the positive, jumping to conclusions/mind reading or fortune telling, magnification or minimization, emotional reasoning. We can find ways to feel bad about ourselves. Let’s purposely find ways to feel good about ourselves.
- Every time you say something negative about yourself, I want to challenge you to tell yourself one of your strengths.
- Don’t let one thing ruin your whole day. I do this! One person or thing upsets me, and I’m put in a bad negative mood. I was telling my husband Seth about three things that upset me yesterday. I so appreciate him listening to me and being so helpful. I realized as I was talking to him that I let three things put me in a really bad state. That’s not okay with me. There was so much good about my day and I was focusing on the three things that had upset me.
- Give yourself some wins. What is something that you know will make you happy? I know a long walk with my dog will make my dog and I happy. It will make me feel like a good dog mom and it will make me feel like I gave us both exercise. I know that getting my blog done today is going to make me feel really good, so I am really focused and driven to get this done. What can you do today that will make you feel good about yourself? Maybe it’s ten minutes of exercise. Maybe it’s a break at work. Maybe it’s taking an hour from work to go volunteer at school. Maybe it’s getting a work project done. What about cleaning up one area in your home? Cooking your family a healthy dinner. What will make you feel successful and good about yourself? Consciously create those opportunities in your days.
- At the end of the night when you go to bed. Think about the wins and successes. Let’s not beat ourselves up for what didn’t get done or what you feel bad about. Unwind at night with the good stuff and put your brain in a good state before bed. This is a good habit for us all to get into. This leads to….
- Journaling the good. The strengths. The positives. Start journaling to yourself as a nurturing, warm, loving mother.
I hope that you will take one thing away from thig blog to help you feel better about yourself. I am devoted to helping women be nicer to themselves. This is one of my missions. I will not let you or I talk to ourselves negatively. We are in this together ladies. Please start today. Start talking to yourself nicer and how you would talk to your best friend. You may not think you deserve that, but I know you do. I would love to hear from you what your greatest take away is from this blog. When you are spreading kindness in this world, begin with yourself.
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R
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