20: Mamas, Stop Beating Yourself Up

Mom guilt is a real thing – a really ugly, insidious thing. And I've got a simple mantra and mindset change to help you stop the mom guilt and beating yourself up for good!

Mamas, Stop Beating Yourselves Up! A pep-talk for mamas to have more self-compassion and less mom guilt

Episode Recap

Self-criticism is a form of bullying ourselves and it actually doesn't serve to motivate us to do and be better. It instead erodes our self confidence and peace. Add in some mom guilt and we've got a good serving of toxic thoughts that sabotage our success as moms, wives, and in other ares of our lives. So how do we stop it? With a simple mantra and mindset shift that I share in this episode, I believe you can start to replace those negative thoughts today to believe the truth of who you are!

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I am Always Doing the Best that I Can

This is my new motto, my mantra! I literally say it daily when I need to.

A few years ago I realized I'd basically become a professional at beating myself up, and had to think to myself… stop beating yourself up. I had bought into the idea that in order to motivate myself to be better, do better, achieve more, be a better mom, a better wife, etc. I needed to scold myself first. You know like, “get it together!” “You know better than that!” “Why'd you do that? That was stupid.” Our inner dialogues can be pretty nasty. And that dialogue will spill over in how we talk to our kids and our spouses. Just like that Bible verse says, “From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Our thoughts create the state of our hearts. And our thoughts come from our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us.

As psychologytoday.com puts it: “instead of helping you reach your goals or become a better version of yourself, self-criticism belittles you and erodes your peace of mind.” We become our own bullies and then we wonder why kids bully each other? I truly believe they learn how from their own parents!

I don't about you, but it became very important to me to raise my kids with positive tapes, or MP3's for you millennials, and actually, I am technically a millennial, playing in their heads. I didn't want to motivate them by criticizing them, which doesn't work anyway. So I realized the best way to change that was to change the way I talk to myself first. Then giving them grace and kindness is easy, it's a natural overflow of what's in my heart.

Did you know we can still be both successful AND be kind to ourselves?

So I came up with this mantra and say it to myself as often as I need to. For instance, just the other day I had a ballroom dance performance and watched the video back and was like, “UGH, that sucked! My arms look dumb there, my belly's sticking out there, I messed up that turn.” Those old tapes came back FAST.

Then I stopped myself and realized I truly gave it my all and did the very best I could with the energy, strength, knowledge and skill I had at the time. That's all I can do so it is ENOUGH. So, I say the mantra, “I am always doing the best I can” and it's true! Because we are always doing the best we can with the time, energy, sleep, skill, knowledge, maturity, and confidence we have at that current moment. This mantra can also help you to forgive yourself for past mistakes and will help you stop beating yourself up.

I say it all throughout my day for when:

  • I don’t get my workout in for the day and I feel like I'll just never be able to succeed at working out EVER
  • I don’t get to the grocery store like I really needed to and now feel guilty because the kids don't have their favorite foods for their lunches
  • I don’t get up a weekly blog post or get my podcast ready in time because I was so busy with the kids (which is a pretty darn good reason for things to get delayed, right?)
  • I have laundry piled up everywhere and feel guilty that my kids don't have any more clean socks or underwear
  • I have dirty bathrooms and floors and feel guilty that we live in a dirty house
  • The kids watch more TV that I promised myself I’d let them watch and now their brains are ruined and they're going to be addicted to screens and become lazy couch potatoes forever
  • I eat “too many” chips or chocolate and now think I've gained 5 pounds and it's just going to keep getting worse and worse
  • I lose my patience with the kids and feel guilty that I've ruined their self esteem and they're going to be in therapy forever
  • I snap and say something rude to my husband and feel guilty that I'm not a good wife and might not ever be
  • I don’t finish the things I’d like to do for my businesses and then feel like I might not ever succeed like I want to
  • I don’t make my bed or clean my room and feel like I must be a lazy slob
We are always doing the best we can with the time, energy, confidence, knowledge, maturity, information and skill we have at the current moment. Don't beat yourself up.  - Sara McFall of MyMerryMessyLife.com and The Merry Messy Moms Show Podcast

Talk to Yourself Like You Would Talk to Your Bestie

So your best friend's having a tough day. She texts you and says she’s crying – there’s a giant pile of dirty laundry, another two piles of clean laundry that she hasn’t folded yet, she just yelled at her kids, her bathrooms are dirty and she needs to go to the grocery store. What would you text back and say?

What if you you talked to her like you talk to yourself? “Gah! What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you do anything right? You failed to do the laundry AGAIN. You’re such a dirty slob, why can't you keep the house clean? What is that teaching your kids? When are you ever going to get it together?”

Would she ever speak to you again? Nope. So, why do we talk to ourselves this way? I think part of it is how we are raised – we hear that same scolding voice we heard when we were 5. Part of it is also our culture – we think we can motivate ourselves to succeed by criticizing and putting ourselves down. Thankfully no matter how we got into this habit, we can change it going forward.

Realize that your best friend IS yourself. There is no one else in the world you will spend more time with than you.

How Does Self-Criticism Affect Us and Our Kids?

So I'm going to read to you from a Psychologytoday.com article and I'll have a link to it in the show notes below for you:

“Negative self-talk and worrying about what others would say can zap the energy needed to become a better you. The results of five psychological studies demonstrated a consistent pattern of negative relationship between self-criticism and goal progress: Participants reported significantly less progress towards goals when they ranked higher in self-criticism. A positive relationship between self-oriented perfectionism and goal progress was also established: When self-criticism was controlled, participants reported significantly more goal progress.” (see that study here).

It goes on to say “Self-bullying arises from lack of compassion and kindness towards oneself. It is often engendered by painful childhood experiences that left a child with emotional scars. Children are more vulnerable and susceptible to negativity, so harsh criticism from parents, teachers, or peers can easily shatter their confidence, making them feel insecure or inadequate.”

It All Comes Down to Not Feeling Like We Are Enough

Really all of this stems from us feeling like we aren't good enough, so nothing we do is good enough for ourselves either. That's just made up nonsense our brains come up with to keep us safe – our brains are all about survival and not about thriving, so it really takes some brain training to change those beliefs about ourselves. To know we are enough simply because we are human beings and exist.

Growing up as a Christian, I was always taught that we are loved simply because we are God's children and there is nothing that can separate us from His love. But it has taken me many, many years to feel and know this deep down. I think partly because many do still believe that if they aren't praying enough, going to church enough, giving enough, volunteering enough, reading the Bible enough, being good enough they still aren't enough to receive God's love. But that's not what the Bible says!

So regardless of which belief system you come from or have, we can all begin to believe that WE ARE ENOUGH.

Kindness Actually Motivates

The good news is that kindness actually motivates! Think about how others motivate and encourage you – when you are told you’re doing a great job, are praised, appreciated, and feel loved, you feel even more excited and motivated to accomplish that thing. Encouragement and kindness really do work. So why not speak to yourself that way? It will motivate you as well.

Also take a step back and make sure you're motivating yourself to do things that you actually want to do, not things you feel obligated to do or are doing to please other people. Ladies, we gotta stop this nonsense! Stop doing things and volunteering for things to be nice, to make others like you. Because it's NOT nice to yourself, stop beating yourself up. Be your own best advocate and that way when you do volunteer for things, you'll show up as your best self and do a fantastic job because you truly want to be there. It better serves the people you're helping anyway.

So as you hear those negative MP3's playing in your head, remember to take a deep breath, and say, “I am always doing the best I can.” And just like any new habit, you won't believe it at first and it may feel silly. But give it time – the more you practice this, just like exercising, the stronger your self-compassion muscles will get and soon you'll find you've got more confidence and peace.

Mamas, Stop Beating Yourselves Up! A simple mantra to help you have more self-compassion on The Merry Messy Moms Show podcast with Sara McFall

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