I see it happen all the time. Mothers notice amazing things other mothers are doing and it makes them feel totally inadequate. I have been right there with you. I even think to myself, “Will you ever be enough?” The answer is a big giant YES!!! We are all enough. You aren’t just going to take my word for it. Let’s see if I can work on changing your tune.
The next time you see a mother do something that makes you feel badly, here is what I want you to do instead:
- First and foremost, I want you to remember ALL THE AMAZING THINGS THAT YOU DO. It floors me that when I see someone do something that I think is awesome that I forget all the awesome things that I do every day. Okay, I may not do awesome things every day, but I bet we can all find great wonderful things that we do for our families every day. Don’t fight me on this. Make yourself a list of all the wonderful things about you as a mother. The next time you see something great that someone is doing, remember this list.
- If you are still fighting me about all the amazing things that you do every day, then I want you to change from feeling inadequate to feeling curious and inspired. If something is making you feel bad, shine a light on it. What is it about this that is making you feel bad? A perfect example I can give you is that I have felt bad in the past when I see awesome vacations people take. This is because I am not great at planning vacations. This is something that I want to work on. I have moved myself from feeling bad about it to feeling inspired. It inspires me to look at where people travel. It gives me ideas and it gives me motivation to plan something. I know this isn’t one of my strong suits. However, the more I practice the better I will get. My wonderful friend posted all the fun things her elf has been doing. I was so proud of myself for thinking – look at all these good ideas. You can feel crappy that your elf is boring, or you can feel inspired to be more creative.
- One of the things I’ve learned along the way is that our brains lie to all of us. Don’t let your brain be nasty to you. You tell that brain of yours to cut it out. Stand up to your brain. Is there proof that your brain is right? Look for proof that your brain is wrong and let’s work on rewiring our brains. The next time your brain tells you that you aren’t good enough I want you to tell it off. That is when we rewind and redo the comment to something much nicer.
- Realize that you don’t know what’s going on with people. I was laughing trying to take a family photo yesterday. You should have seen me trying to get this done. I should have done a really silly picture. The outcome is all of us smiling but how many pictures did I take? What you will see is the beautiful smiling picture but what about what’s going on behind the scenes in people’s lives. Their lives aren’t as perfect as you think. They are jealous of people and thinking they aren’t good enough too. It’s like this vicious cycle. Can we all stop being jealous or feeling inadequate and realize that:
- There is room for everyone to succeed! We all have our strengths! We want to teach our children to cheerlead for their friends. Everyone can succeed. Everyone can succeed at their own things. We are all different and unique and excel at different things. Maybe Sally is really good at sewing and her sewing projects are beautiful. Maybe you would rather sing and singing beautiful songs is what you like to do. We all have our unique beauty. It is really important to me that people smile. I love to make people smile. I don’t think my husband even notices if someone is smiling. However, if you need help improving your business, he will push up his sleeves and help you because he loves to help people succeed. Notice everyone’s unique strengths.
- Every time you compare yourself to someone else I want you to just push the stop button. Stop comparing yourself to anyone else. Compare yourself to yourself. My youngest child Lillie will even remind me not to compare her to anyone else. My three kids couldn’t be more different. Lillie is very different from her friends. She is her own unique person, and she makes sure that I remember that. Psychologist Dr. Amy Silver writes about comparison being the thief of joy. She reminds us to focus on ourselves and our own goals. She also encourages us to be courageous. The more courageous and brave we are and the less we let fear stop us the less comparisons will make us feel badly.
- My new buzz word lately is compassion. Oh, how I love that word. Give yourself compassion in what you are thinking. If you are comparing yourself to someone else and feeling badly, that is okay. Allow your feelings to happen and then make sure to evaluate your feelings. It’s okay to feel it but it doesn’t mean that your viewpoint is correct. If you think Sally gave her kids awesome presents and you didn’t, I would think twice about that. I bet you bought your kids awesome stuff too. Always remember that you never know the full story. Maybe Sally has gone into debt trying to buy her kids too many presents. Maybe that isn’t how you want your family finances to look. Maybe you are more responsible and sensible and give less presents for valid reasons. You never know the whole picture.
I want you to post all your wonderfulness on Facebook. I want to see what your elf is up to. I want to see all the winter shows you are going to. I want to see all the fabulous gifts you buy your kids. I want to see where you go out to dinner. I take it all in. I smile and I feel happy for you. I also make notes for myself because all of you inspire me. You inspire me to be a better version of myself. I can travel more and you can give me ideas. I can get more creative with my gift buying and you can give me ideas. I love to see the homemade things that you make with your kids.
Take as much stress as you can out of this month ahead. This is not supposed to be about stress. Try to enjoy the holidays as best as you can. Smile at Sally’s post and feel happy for her. Maybe her elf is doing something amazing and maybe her house is a total mess. Maybe your house is spotless? We all have our strengths. Maybe you didn’t buy your kids great gifts, but you are getting them a fabulous vacation. Maybe you are taking them somewhere cool as a family experience.
I refuse to ever allow myself to feel inadequate. My husband has been helpful with this. I remember one day I said that I was being lazy, and he strongly disagreed with me. He told me I am never lazy and that I should remove that word from my vocabulary. That was really good advice and he’s right. Resting on the couch is resting, it is not being lazy. Reading my book is not being lazy, it is taking care of myself. Skipping dinner and having everyone have something super easy is taking care of myself. I don’t need to be “ON” all the time and neither do you. My Rabbi told me that women think they need to be superhuman. Such a smart man who has observed a lot of women including his wonderful wife. You don’t have to be superhuman. You are good enough just how you are. You are human. You don’t have to have the perfect gift. You don’t have to make the perfect dinner. You don’t need to plan the perfect vacation. Everything that you do every day is good enough. Sally is not better than you. She is different and she probably has very different strengths and weaknesses.
Allow all these wonderful women to inspire you. Let’s not let anyone make us feel inadequate. Use it as inspiration and run with it. I hope that this can help you enjoy the holidays even more.
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R
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