Journal and Blog
This common phrase is used in a variety of ways all the time. Stop for a second and think about how it diminishes your experience, sells short the loss you feel.
After we have poured our hearts out- we finish our thought with "It could be worse..."
Not only are we capping off the grief we feel it sends a mixed invalidating message to ourselves, "what I am experiencing must not be that bad, the pain and hurt I am feeling is somehow not equitable to my experiencing must not be that bad, the pain and hurt I am feeling is somehow not equitable to my experience therefore, I should just stop... because somewhere, someone has it worse."
Having a positive outlook, having a grateful heart, recognizing others loss and having empathy for their circumstances are all healthy (highly valued) cultural norms- but don't for one second let that diminish your hurt or pain.
Feel it allow space and time to honor your loss. Let it pass, then fill in the holes with all the positive, thoughtful expressions you want. But don't use them as a way to invalidate your experience.
I know this famous quote from Dr. Seuss is referring to how we care of this beautiful world we live in. But lately, it's been on repeat in my mind regarding how I car for myself. I sure wish there was a way to hold someone, anyone else accountable for my unhealthy habits or even just the absence of healthy ones. But truthfully no one can make as big of a difference for my health as I can.
As a mom, it takes constant effort to remember to make (and take) the times you need to care for your needs. The reasons we don't are many...and all are very valid. But "Unless someone like YOU cares a whole awful lot, nothing about your physical, mental or spiritual health is going to get better. It not.
I say this to myself every time I get up to exercise in the morning or (more often) when I rearrange my afternoon to fit exercise in during babies nap times.
I say this to myself when I need a little pick-me-up in the afternoon and pass up a pop tart or some other for of quick simple carbs and sugar. Whether I do this out of convenience or habit...it only takes a little care to find a better fit for the fuel I need.
There are a few of the areas I know I need to care a whole awful lot for myself. What's on your list???
I am aware it's easy to believe there is no reason to care. If that is how you find yourself feeling, start there, with care. The behaviors on your care list are not meant to be knots in a belt you later use to beat yourself with when you fall short... that isn't caring. Some days might feel like two steps forward and three steps back. That OK! Nothing is going to get better unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot. It's not. One choice, one misstep at a time.
Good News! Anger responses are learned behaviors, not instinctive. This means, it's easier to change our OUTWARD anger behavior than change the INTERNAL experiences of anger.
This extremely important step helps repair damaged relationships and stops the repetitive cycle of acting out followed by remorse, shame, and guilt. When we act differently, we can begin to feel different.
When anger has gotten the best of you, think about restorative communication.
Use "I statements"
Be an active listener
Make eye contact
The vulnerability restorative communication requires isn't an easy to check off your list. Vulnerability takes emotional awareness. It takes differentiation, self-correction and self-compassion.
Keeping in mind responses to anger is learned, patterns of behavior can change.
I know a question we all ask over and over again. "Is this anxiety?" Or "Is this because I am too busy?" " I am a mom- isn't feeling overwhelmed part of it?"
At a conference with Margaret Wehrenberg, Psy.D she shared a concept about controlling too much activity something she called (TMA).
When we get caught up being "too busy" and over scheduled we limit our ability to learn to calm and exercise relaxation skills.
It is a phrase we use all the time, somethings we mean it, but most the time we just it to cover up how we really feel. Think about how you use the phrase in these 2 negative ways.
A Locked Door
Saying "I am fine" in interpersonal relationships isn't the same as saying it to someone offering to help you to your car with groceries. Using "I am fine" as a way to shut someone out damages close relationships. "I am fine" is like putting a lock on a door or a closed sign in the middle of the road. It prevents communication, limits growth and connection. Sometimes we aren't ready to "go there" and we need emotional space. In those situations try expressing those thoughts instead if using "I am fine."
As a Mask
"I am fine" can become a mask we hide behind. This not only isolates ourselves from genuine love and support but also isolates ourselves from genuine love Think about how you use it as a mask- Do you use it as a way to protect or conceal? Think about the times you wear it, and the situations when you take it off? awareness is a key ingredient for emotional well-being. "I am fine" isn't always a mask you wear to hide. Sometimes wearing this mask is the only thing holding us together.
Make sure that when you use the phrase "I am fine" you understand why you are using it. Sometimes saying "I am fine." Becomes a voice of surrender. "It's fine" becomes a desperate choice not to care. Don't allow "I am fine" become the phase that silents your needs.
I work with women; who years later find themselves processing for the first time (or the millionth time) sexual trauma from their past. Because healing is not linear. It is important for both survivors and community members to understand how to respond.
First A Few Things To Know About Trauma
Research estimates 58%-94% of victims seek help from family and friends. That gives everyone a responsibility to help victims come forward, recover and heal. Regardless of when the experience actually took place. (Start Believing professional training)
An important thing to think about it the impact of positive/negative reactions.
When a survivor receives a negative reaction from a friend, family member of formal support. Research concludes that individual is more likely to develop Post Traumatic Stress, have delayed recovery and more likely to develop thoughts of self-blame.
Genuine love, and empathy are sincere. Trust the relationship they came to you, should say something about the trust they share with you. Think about their safety; both emotional and physical. Validate their experience, its not your role to decide why it happened, what they did or didn't do right...etc. Provide support as they move forward, offer open communication. Remember the way we share our experiences through the language we us creates cultural shifting, that can be empowering both to the survivor and those finding themselves in positions to be informal and formal support. Say Maya Angelou has said, "When we know better we can do better."
National Sexual Assault Hotline 800.656.HOPE (4673)
Start With Believing
Rape and Sexual Assault/Utah
Ask any mother you know and she will probably admit having somewhat of a love hate relationship with summer. While the care-free agenda of open schedules, less routine and more time together sounds ideal, it can also be a very overwhelming time. Trying to create a nostalgic experience of summer while maintaining work schedules can stir-up feelings of guilt. Balancing the needs of children in different developmental stages can leave any mother feeling like she is failing in more ways than she is succeeding. And let’s face it, even your children’s behaviors can be a trigger for frustration and low-stress tolerance. The thought of having to manage those behaviors all summer long seems daunting. If you are feeling more hate towards the summer months ahead than love. Try using these three ideas to help yourself feel more engaged and excited for the dog days of summer.
Respond Instead of React
Establish a mindset centered around responding instead of reacting. A powerful shift takes place when we think about responding to something instead of reacting to it. In this case, the emotional load of summer. Instead of reacting to the challenging aspects summertime creates. Think about how you can respond to them. Prepare ahead by thinking about your own unique stress-points. Time, energy, resources, and interest can be taken into consideration to make the shift from reacting to responding.
Have a Summer Theme
Create a plan for your summer based off what you want most from it. By working backwards from your end goal you can intentionally create opportunities to respond not react. Structuring the main events (or lack thereof) based off your end goals for summer decreases susceptibility to comparison and wasted energy spent chasing ‘it all.”
Use Being Scheduled Free to Your Advantage
Give your permission to do (or be) one thing at a time. Use the flexibility your open schedule summer creates in your favor. Maybe planning out your week based off weekly needs instead of daily ones. That way each day you can decide what is most important to do based off the resources you have. Focus on one role at a time creates a way to increase your productivity while feeling accomplished which is an important motivator for all of us.
There is so much about summer that is enjoyable and fun, especially here in Utah. It can be a time of adventure and trying new things. It can be a time to slow down and get respite from the busyness of the school year. By establishing a mindset of responding instead of reacting you can be prepared for whatever comes your way. Creating a plan for your summer opens opportunities to be intentional with your time and energy. Having directions gives you the ability to enjoy more fully what is important to you and not get as caught up in comparing what those around you are doing. Lastly by giving yourself permission to do one thing at a time allows you a chance to feel satisfied with the job you do. Using these three tools allows you to balance the positive and negative aspects of the emotional load summer creates.
Focusing on one role-at-a-time gives you the opportunity to see what it is you are accomplishing and feeling accomplished becomes a motivator for productivity. All too often, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed take over. This leaves us defeated and discouraged eroding our joy and satisfaction.
The saying your can't multitask being present.
No job on earth is all sunshine and rainbows. Motherhood, like any other responsibility or profession, has its pros and cons. If you heard a doctor say, "You know what I love interacting with patients but despise washing my hands 500 times a day." You wouldn't jump to the conclusion she was in the wrong profession regardless of the years of training and hard-work to do something she truly loves. Not loving everything about motherhood doesn't undermine your ability to be a good mother.
It's important to acknowledge that feelings are not good or bad, right or wrong. In fact, we are more likely to be emotionally healthy when we experience a wide range of emotions, too much of one or bottling up others leads to psychological problems. When we understand that motherhood encompasses a wide range of emotions and all those feelings are a part of it, we are less likely to categorize emotions with unhelpful labels. Feeling frustrated and annoyed doesn't make us selfish. Being worried, overwhelmed, and insecure doesn't mean we are not capable. Feeling valued, loved, and confident isn't the only way to feel good about the job we do as mothers.
Thanks to valuable research on shame, we understand it better than ever before. We have a better way of verbalizing our feeling of shame and can identify the role shame plays in our lives. When we talk about not feeling good enough as a mother, or not enjoying motherhood, we are talking about shame. When we assess how we feel and take time to listen to what those emotions are without judgement, we can identify the shame we feel and recognize how to process and move past it in our lives. Being able to collaborate with other moms, or our spouse, really any member of our support system can help create a perspective you are not alone, you are not the only one struggling.
Feeling like you shouldn't be a mom, or your kids would be better off without you as their mom can be a symptom involving perinatal mood disorders or depression. Feeling this way is sensitive and can provoke feelings of hopelessness in all of us. If as you read through the ways to change this perspective and you still feel like that isn't enough for you. Or you can't think of how you would do that in your own life and circumstances, you may want to look into receiving some therapeutic help.
Utilize Your Resources
Once we have recognized our emotion and examined our perceptive we can turn to resources to help us cope with the harder aspects of motherhood.
Take time to do the things that recharge and refuel you as well as your kids. If your mind is drawing a blank, start by thinking about the things you enjoy and tweak them as needed for your kids' ages. Have a long list of things you and your kids enjoy doing. Simple around the house ideas. It can be a good idea to expand that list to simple outing types of things too. The more ideas you have, the easier it is to find the fit you need. I worked with a mom that loved to swing with her kids in their backyard. As her kids grew into adolescence, they would still go and swing with her. It became an easy a way to connect. Many moms have used reading a good chapter book with older children as something to look forward to at the end of the day. For me and my kids a 15minute game of hide-and-go-seek can be a game changer. I have come to realize these kind of breaks are important for me to stay present and work towards being the mom I want to be. Use these activities as breaks, use them to refuel you. Use your energy to heal, recover, and to brace yourself for what's ahead.
Be careful of what you compare yourself to. Our minds are a muscle designed to predict what is coming and does this through connecting patterns. Be careful of the pattern you create. When you start the day with, "ugh I don't want to be doing this today, being a mom isn't for me." You can bet that beautiful muscle in our head will find all the ways to support that thought. From your mom fails, to negative emotions, you experience and classify as wrong or detrimental.
Decide what is really important to you and focus on that. If you like to have evidence to measure your progress, measure yourself on the qualities and tasks that are important to you. Cut out the nonsensical things. Don’t let these activities and characteristic creep in and be the things you beat yourself up about. My best doesn’t have to be your best.
Having a strong support system is a common dominator that strengthens us during emotionally difficult and stressful times. Whatever our reason for not liking motherhood, be it a difficult
child, our own emotional instability, life stress surrounding us, or conflict in your relationship, having a support system to lean on can be a valuable resource. This can help with tasks and responsibilities or lending a listening ear. Find your tribe and hang on tightly to them. If that isn’t available to you, find support in community resources. Crisis nurseries, support groups, find a nanny, join a facebook group, reach out to a church group of your faith.
Keep in Mind
Motherhood is something we hold in high esteem, and rightly so. Sometimes as mothers we can experience shame in varying degrees when our own experience and emotions don’t measure up to the standard motherhood holds in our hearts. When we acknowledge our own feelings good, bad and in between it does not mean we are any less fit for the job. By utilizing the resources our energy, focus and support can be. We can except those tougher times with more strength and courage.