By: Cara Maksimow
No matter what people might say, being a mom can be the toughest, yet most rewarding jobs there is. The vast majority of us do it, yet why do we constantly feel as if we are falling behind everyone else. We have this nagging feeling that somehow other women have mastered the job while we flounder in insecurities and self-doubt.
For me, it started early in pregnancy. From gaining too much weight to feeling as if I was missing something when I did not enjoy feeling tired, nauseous and ill prepared for the arrival of this little person.
I wanted to get this “right.” Trying to be “perfect” at what I believe is the most important thing I will ever do in my life. That brought on insecurities in so many areas.
I was comparing my self to what I “thought” was going on with everyone else. That was the problem!
We don’t see the whole picture with anyone else. We see ourselves every minute of every day. The good, the bad and the ugly. We are self-critical and have unrealistic expectations of what motherhood “should” look like. When we see other moms, we are only seeing what they chose to show us whether it is in public places or on social media.
For example, you go to a party with other families and the 45 minute struggle you just had with your toddler to wear her shoes has got you frazzled and overwhelmed as you walk in the door. The first thing you notice is how put together everyone else’s toddlers seem to look. We have this idea that somehow we are failing compared to everyone else and then that is all we seem to notice around us.
We get overwhelmed and form this belief that we are not measuring up and then we start to notice everything around us that confirms our beliefs, even if it is not consistent with what is really going on.
So here’s what I learned:
Stop comparing yourself to others!
Remember that what you are seeing is not the whole picture! Much of the information we get about other families comes from pictures, social media and stories that other moms tell us. All of those are carefully orchestrated points of time that reflect what other people want the world to see. The perfect smiling faces are not reflective of the yelling, crying or whining that most likely preceded the perfect picture.
Stop comparing what happens with you to what others want the world to see. We get caught up comparing our entire lives to other people’s perfect moments. Our self-talk becomes harsh and negative as we try to compete with a false reality. We start to believe we are not good enough as we try to live up to unrealistic perfectionist expectations. Let it go and know that behind every seemingly ideal picture is a mom who feels just like you do. So here’s what you can do instead:
Talk to yourself the way you would talk to another mom.
Practice self-compassion by changing your inner dialogue. Imagine you were sitting with a dear friend who was telling you all the things you tell yourself about being a mom. She feels insecure, like her kids are out on control, her house is a mess and she can’t seem to find herself. Sound familiar?
What would you tell her? Perhaps you would tell her she is doing a great job. You would point out all the positive moments you have witnessed her with her kids and the things you admire about her. Right? Now have that discussion with yourself!
Remind yourself that you got this! Treat yourself with the same kindness and compassion you would give anyone else.
Start by making a list of all that you have accomplished that day. Start looking for those good moments we seem to discount too often.
If you start looking for the good you will start to find it.
Try keeping a journal at the end of your day. You can even do it with your kids. You can identify the bright spots that went well and pat yourself on the back for all the awesome and wonderful accomplishments of the day.
Try this exercise:
Fill Your BAG Happy.
Imagine you carry around your insecurities and negative feelings in a BAG and you can empty that BAG out and refill it with the letters B.A.G. Start with Best part of your day by identifying the good and the bright spots that you made happen. Then list your Accomplishments, what did you get done during the day. There is always something. Finally, what are you truly Grateful for and why that is important to you.
Know that you don’t need to feel as if you don’t measure up because the reality is you are a mom and that makes you amazing!