Yesterday I was plagued by guilt. Practicing mindfulness has helped to disclose much of my internal chatter, but guilt is something that seems to play on below the radar of my conscious mind. This is the part of the mind we’re aware of, which neuroscientists say makes up only 5% of our cognitive activity – which leaves 95% rumbling on beneath our awareness. Could this be the early indoctrination of Catholic guilt? Partly, but strangely, lapsing as a Catholic is something I’ve never felt guilt about. Or is it just plain old Mum Guilt? Nearly 38k posts (#momguilt nearly 100k!) confirm it's real!
Mum guilt can wear several disguises – it poses under the labels of nutrition, sleeping, working/not working, discipline, quality time, stimulation etc – but what is behind it surmounts to the same –the feeling that what we are doing is not good enough. Guilt is connected to our beliefs - irrational or otherwise - and they can become a stick to beat ourselves with. A good way to deal with this is to bring some curiosity around it. By writing down what is making you feel guilty, we make the unconscious, conscious. What beliefs is it connected to? Many of our core beliefs are downloaded from our parents before we are 6, so it’s healthy to unearth the beliefs to determine if you still believe them now. Having illuminated my ‘belief’ that children should get out every day, I realise it’s a nice-to-have rather than a necessity. I actually love staying in – especially in winter – but use a range of activities to assuage my guilt: Lego, puzzles, games, trains, books, and way too much TV (if I’m honest). Other seemingly insignificant thoughts like ‘I should have got his breakfast more quickly’; ‘I should’ve changed her nappy sooner’ are miniscule judgements and like any thoughts, transient, yet they still have a negative physiological effect. When I become conscious of these, I remind myself that I’m doing my best and try to practise self-compassion. I also try to limit my own screen time. The irony is not lost on me that as I post this my toddler is climbing on me. See 10 things mums feel guilty about
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help let go of your mum guilt:
What do I feel guilty about?
Is this connected to a specific belief?
What is this belief?
Where has it come from?
Do I still believe it now?
Are there any other points of view that I can bring in?
Can I do anything about this thing I feel guilty about?
With the Mindful Mums Project, a brand new venture from Coach Yourself Better and Mindfulness Skill4Life, we help Mums to recognise this type of thinking to get you on your way to losing the Mum Guilt...see more on the Mindful Mums Project page for London events starting on 27 Feb '22.