Raise your hand if you’re harder on yourself than you are on anyone else. C’mon. It won’t hurt to admit it. My hand is in the air too. We often have a monologue running through our heads: “Why did I just do that? What a dumb thing to say! Why can’t I get anything right? I suck at life/parenting/marriage. I can’t seem to make good decisions.” These are the lies that depression and anxiety tell us.
Some of us beat ourselves up on a daily basis and say negative things to ourselves that we would never say to someone else. We can be our own worst enemies, allowing small errors in judgement, or even completely neutral events, to grow bigger and bigger in our minds until we have decided we’re the The Bad Mom.
On top of the things we tell ourselves, we also live in a parent-shaming culture. Whenever I make the mistake of reading the comment section on anything parenting related, I am always blown away by the harsh criticism directed especially at moms. Remember the kid who fell in the gorilla cage? My goodness, that could have happened to any one of us. My kids have slipped away from my watch in the blink of an eye. It takes only 3 seconds for my toddler to go from playing on the floor to standing on the kitchen table attempting to grab the chandelier. Thankfully I grabbed him before anything disastrous happened.
So how do we show some compassion to ourselves, especially when we’re surrounded by media telling us we’re doing the wrong thing no matter what choice we make?
Recognize, and repeatedly remind yourself, that to err is to be human. We all make mistakes. Take a look at those around you, the ones who you think are doing better than you. They are probably wishing they were as good as you.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Theodore Roosevelt said that “comparison is the thief of joy.”
Write a new story. Take a out a journal or piece of paper and write to yourself. Write as though you were talking to a friend. Tell yourself that you’re doing the best you can with what you have, and that is good enough. Your kids are going to be just fine.
Practice self-care. This doesn’t have to be splurging on a spa day. It might just mean taking some extra time to do your favourite hairstyle, close the door on your screaming children so you can pee alone, or having a glass of wine with a friend. Any little thing that makes you feel good about yourself.
Practice gratitude. Write down 3 things daily that you are thankful for. It can be something as simple as hot coffee in the morning or as momentous as being grateful to have little lives to shape. Just say thanks.
Self-compassion takes practice, and doesn’t generally come naturally to any of us. Making this a habit can increase our overall well-being, increase motivation, and decrease anxiety and depression. If you feel like anxiety and/or depression is taking over your life, contact me today to learn more about how counselling can help you.