By Viki de Lieme
Motherhood can feel like the synonym of should. No matter what we, mothers, do, there will always be someone to tell us we didn't do enough, or maybe that we did too much. It could be coming from our parents who have a different idea of parenting or our spouse. It could be coming from dear friends with whom we parted ways or the neighbor downstairs. But from all possible shoulds, the most painful ones are those spoken with our own voice.
I shouldn't have yelled this way.
I shouldn't have allowed so much screen time.
I should have spent more time connecting.
I should have cleaned the house.
I shouldn't have spoken to them the way I did.
I should cook healthier meals.
If these statements sound familiar to you, Mama, I can assume that you are familiar with the guilt that follows. That feeling that tells you that you are not good enough.
The Truth about Guilt
Here's the thing - it's not the feeling that's telling you that; it's your brain. It tells you this because this is the way we, human beings, were trained to think; this is the way we have been thinking for the past 7,000 years. We think in terms of guilt, blame, and shame.
But what if there was another way of thinking?
The truth is that guilt is a form of self-regulation; it is not a feeling that is meant for us to spiral down with. Rather, it is a feeling telling us that we took action against our authenticity, an action that doesn't align with what we hold within.
When we listen to our guilt with an open heart and a big pillow of self-compassion, we begin to see it for what it truly is: a call to action. A bell ringing loudly for us to reconnect with our deepest values and take different actions that align with our souls' true beauty.
Clean Minds, Clean Souls
Transcending above the should, parting from guilt, happens when we purify the voices we let in - when we clean out the neighbor's voice, our parents' voices, and those friends' voices. They don't share the same values as you do. No one does.
Only you know what is right for you, and only you know what is right for your child. Once you connect to this message from within and realign your actions - guilt, the way you know it, would be a relic from the past.
Your Guilt - Your Strength
Your guilt tells you what you truly value, and it tells you that these values have gone missing today. If your guilt creeps up after you’ve yelled, it is because you value peace and positive communication.
If guilt pops up after a long and busy day in which you hadn’t seen too much of your children, it is because you love them so much. Because you value connection, nurture, and contribution. You value being their mother.
Beneath the guilt hides great love, and this is where your strength is.
A Call to Action
Listen to yourself today; search for that should. Whose voice is it? Is it yours, or does it voice the thoughts of another?
Does being a good mother mean that your children need to eat a warm meal for dinner, or are you OK with cereal? If you are OK with cereal, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.
Does being a good mother mean a strict no-screen policy, or are you OK with a daily hour? If you are - then everything is OK.
If, however, the voice your guilt speaks is your own voice, and you are not OK with something that happened - take action.
Claim responsibility. Make amends. Craft a plan to allow you to stay true to your values and show up as your best self. Only you know what that means.
Try this today, Mama, and allow yourself to experience freedom from guilt.
** Viki de Lieme is a life and parenting coach, specializing in Nonviolent Communication and Mindfulness. Combining these two practices, Viki brings the worlds of words and actions together and teaches how to live and parent with intention and clarity.