Is Shame Causing You to Focus on the Wrong Things?
I’m a relationship-builder by nature. Not only is this one of my favorite traits about myself, but it’s how I’ve connected with so many women over the past few years. Through conversation, I’ve met too many women who, like me, struggle with everyday guilt and shame. That shit is hard to overcome! And frankly, a straight up waste of our precious energy. But, when we learn to edit our mindset, we can change our lives!
But how do we shift our mindset and free ourselves of the BS shame we feel? How can we start living the life we envision for ourselves?
This, dear friends, is the reason I started this journey. I want to help other badass mamas find their voice and their own version of a healthy lifestyle.
To do that, though, I want to focus on the importance of your role as a mother.
Moms are the foundation for their family’s wellness.
Both a blessing and a curse, being a mom means we are the center of our family’s literal everything. We create the meal plans, we do most of the shopping, we manage the constantly full calendar, we make sure our little people have the necessities, we volunteer at their functions, we make sure they go to the dentist and doctor…this is just the tip of the iceberg. The list goes on and on because we take care of so much!
Just typing out that shortlist makes my head spin a bit. Women really are incredible beings! But it’s no wonder we all feel we fall short on the wellness piece of life because sometimes it feels like there’s no time to worry about it.
But because women are the sun in their families, our children learn from us when it comes to how to live. We guide them on how to eat, be active, and even practice self-care. So when we eat junk, don’t make exercise a priority, and push our own wellness to the back, our children grow up thinking this is the right way to live. Think of them as tiny planets that live life based on the movement of the sun.
Comparison fuels shame for more than just you.
Mothers, women in general actually, spend a lot of time comparing themselves to other women. Their own mothers, their friends, their co-workers, people they follow on social media, the moms they sit by at ball games and swimming lessons. You name a woman, another woman is probably comparing herself to her in some way or another. Comparison fuels shame in so many areas of our lives. It’s the foundation for our negative self-talk and judgment of other women.
The constant comparison makes us believe we aren’t good enough and feel needless shame for not being what we consider perfect. Our skewed vision of success sometimes causes us to push ourselves too far, committing to things that don’t matter. It affects our mental health, which seeps into every part of our lives and affects everyone in our family. Here’s what I want you to focus on the next time you find yourself comparing your body, mothering skills, professional achievements, etc. to another woman—comparison creates a deceptive reality. You have to let go of your view of other women and center yourself from the inside out.
Fight feelings of guilt and inadequacy by consciously recognizing everything you do and everything you are. Here are a few ways to do that:
Call yourself out for comparisons you make – when you evaluate something you do or how you look to another woman, stop and own it. Why are you comparing yourself to this person? Does she have a direct implication on your life? If no (which 99.9% of the time will be the case), push your comparisons aside and focus on yourself. Disassociating from the comparison can help you narrow in on yourself and help you find joy.
Listen to yourself through your kids – how much do you cringe when your little repeats something negative that originated from you? I can’t wear this swimsuit, mommy. It makes me look fat. Ouch. If you don’t want your kiddo to compare themselves to their peers and say negative things about the way they look – don’t be the example.
Zero in on the feelings of shame – when we feel guilt, our instinct is to run from it. If we avoid it, it goes away, right? Nope, wrong. You may be successful in pushing guilt to the back of your mind for now, but it won’t be long before it rears its ugly face again. Not dealing with the feelings perpetuates the cycle of shame. And this keeps you from moving forward.
For every negative thought, think of three positives – at first, this is tough. It’s hard to believe good things about ourselves when we’re used to focusing on the negative.
Example: “My house is never tidy like so-and-so’s.”
- “My kids are cared for.”
- “I allow my kids to be creative by letting them make a mess with paint.”
- “My house is clean enough for us and a safe place for my family to live.”
Example: “I look fatter than so-and-so who has had the same number of kids as I have.”
- “My body is healthy. It allows me to move where I want to go.”
- “My daughter has the same color of eyes as me. She has beautiful eyes.”
- “I just carried in 8 grocery bags at once. I am strong as hell.”
These are just a couple of examples of common negative thoughts women have almost daily. For moments when you don’t feel good about yourself, reframe it with positivity. When you learn to focus on the good, there’s a mindset shift, and positivity becomes natural.
Journal for 3 minutes a day – journaling is a powerful tool for working through shame. But most of us feel there’s no time for it. While longer stints of journaling are ideal, you’d be surprised how much you can untangle in just 3 minutes. Begin with 3 minutes a day and move up in time as it becomes a habit. Using a timer helps if you lose sight of time like I often do.
Break the cycle for them.
You can’t undo the fact that you might have learned all the wrong things about health growing up. If you’re like me and raised in the 80s and 90s, you can probably relate to coming home from school and polishing off a boatload of chips and sour cream dip (while in front of the TV). You may have grown up eating Hamburger Helper and other boxed dinners. Everyone did! Our parents bought into the idea of convenient processed foods back then because companies branded them as nutritious and time-saving. It’s time to let go of the guilt that you’re setting your kiddos up with the same broken habits you grew up with. But to switch up the direction of the path you’re on, you have to work at it.
- Take the knowledge you have (and are battling to gain!) and make sure your kids understand what healthy eating looks like. This doesn’t necessarily mean they gobble up broccoli like candy and never eat sugar. You have to be realistic and let them still be kids.
- Let go of control and make kids part of the decisions. They love to feel like their voices matter, too! When grocery shopping, let each child pick out a fruit or veggie of their choice. Include their choice into your meal plan, so it gets eaten and not tossed (wink, it holds you accountable, too).
- Continue to offer fruit and veggies at every meal, even if your kids refuse to eat more than a mandatory bite. This is critical for your kids to learn they’re part of a healthy diet. Sometimes I go to hiding the veggies in a dish or disguising them with delicious spices. There are some tasty ways to cook veggies that your kids will love!
Be patient, and the mindset shift will come.
When we start paying attention to how our thoughts direct our lives and decisions, a few things happen. We focus on the right things rather than how we match up to other people. Our families notice a difference because we’re busting our butts trying to better ourselves. The whole house mood will feel lighter when we shed the heaviness of comparisons. And we find our voice and start living for our own version of happiness and health.
One thing to remember—miracles do not happen overnight! This inward focus is a constant work-in-progress. But when we stop letting shame guide us, we change our mindset and impact how our little people will grow up to think about their health, food, and their worth. Much like we would love to change some of our spouses behavior, we can’t force it. Same with your kids, rather than forcing it, let it be a gradual change they will pick up on. Whole family wellness begins with you, mama.
What an amazing job we have.
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