Motherly guilt. It comes in all shapes and sizes for us over-thinkers:
- Guilt for going back to work.
- Guilt for not going back to work.
- Guilt for dirty floors and crappy dinners.
- Guilt for shouting.
- Guilt for not putting out.
- Guilt for wanting time for yourself.
- Guilt for putting him in day care to enable time for yourself.
- Guilt for wanting to throw him out the window at 2am.
- Guilt for being too tired to be a fun mum today.
The thing is, guilt is a waste of energy – a wasted emotion – incredibly hard work with zero return. It’s our problem-solving minds in overdrive rehashing past events, which serves no real purpose other than to exhaust us.
What’s worse is that guilt accumulates. It’s like a gruesome monster that gets bigger each time you feed it, devouring more of your happiness and spewing out more crap!
But there’s good news. Guilt is optional.
Guilt is simply an emotion that is triggered by thoughts. If we can disengage from these unhelpful thoughts before they take hold, the gruesome guilt monster will go hungry.
This may seem hopeless at first, “I can’t control my thoughts – I’m screwed!” But it’s not about controlling them. We have as much chance of controlling our thoughts as we have of controlling the weather. What we can do is notice them, and consciously choose which thoughts we latch onto and which ones we let float on by.
You can practice this as you go about your day. Start paying attention to the chatter in your head, and say to yourself, “I’m having the thought that __________.” I’m having the thought that I must to reply to that email. I’m having the thought that I’m anxious about the event on Friday. I’m having the thought that I’m a bad mother because I lost it when Mr Four wet his pants for the 6th time yesterday.
Over time this practice of noticing your thoughts will create space for you – the space to choose whether to feed the guilt monster with an unhelpful thought, or to let it float on by like a cloud in the sky.
Give it a whirl today and let me know how you go in the comments below :-)