Give yourself permission to be human
Raise your hands if you have beaten yourself up for not being super mum, for taking time to yourself, for being frustrated or annoyed at your kids or for failing to get to the end of your to do list day in and day out because life happens. We forget that perfection is just a myth – that we have all been designed to live, feel, fail, stand back up and keep going. It’s so easy to get caught up in striving to be better, to do more and we are hard on ourselves if we fall short of being perfect.
I want you to take a minute and ask yourself these questions. When was the last time that you gave yourself permission to do, feel or have whatever it is that your heart wanted? Did you feel any guilt or try to seek external approval? And how often do you allow yourself to do this seemingly indulgent and selfish act?
I personally have noticed some recurring themes when I have tried to give myself permission in the past. I would try to directly or indirectly obtain approval from others. And when I didn’t get it, I would get annoyed and feel extra guilty if I ended up doing what I wanted. Or my inner critic would pipe up reminding me that I was being selfish, that there were other things that were far more important. And on bad days I would have to face both.
The need to seek permission as well as the guilt we feel for giving ourselves what we need is all due to conditioning. Ever since childhood we have had to ask permission for what we wanted. We needed to ask permission to have a snack from our parents or be allowed to go to the bathroom when we were in class. This continues during adulthood when we have to ask for permission to take time off. It is no surprise that we struggle to give ourselves permission when we combine a lifetime of asking for permission with society’s definition and stereotypes of what it means to be a mother.
As a mother, there is always so much to do. The list becomes never ending when you add to it the role of a loving wife/partner, domestic goddess, successful worker, caring daughter, supportive friend etc. It’s really easy to get carried away looking after others and putting ourselves last because somehow we feel that, until we have looked after everyone else and finished all that needs to be done, we don’t really deserve a break. You know how exhausting it is to be everything to everyone all the time.
So ladies, let go of the guilt that comes with taking me-time. It’s not a luxury – it’s a necessity because we are only human. You are of great value and you cannot give from an empty cup. Besides, focusing on others and ignoring your needs for a prolonged time leads to stress, burn out, resentment and anger.
By looking after yourself and resting when you are tired, you are not only showing love and respect to your body but also setting a greater example for your children. Rest and sleep is an important as keeping healthy and balancing our hormones. The pile of washing or creating wonderful memories with your kids can wait at least another 30 minutes if not more. Give yourself some of that love and compassion that you so easily dole out to others and look after your body.
Forget the shoulds and instead focus on what you want to do. Put yourself first every so often and allocate time for you to do what you want daily. Reward yourself for all the hard work that you put in. Change your “I have to” to “I want to”. This will help you feel rejuvenated and energised to progress through your day. It will also help lift your mood and everyone is bound to notice the difference.
Feel your emotions
Allow yourself to feel all emotions that come to you without any guilt. Don’t feel bad for feeling bad, for having negative thoughts, for getting angry, for craving alone time. It’s all okay. We are humans and we are meant to be feeling a wide range of emotions. When you feel negative or overwhelming emotions, don’t judge yourself. It doesn’t mean that you are not grateful for all you have or that you do not love your children. It only means that you are human and that you are going through a trying moment. So yes maybe you did shout at your child when your patience ran out. Don’t let the guilt associated with that moment define who you are as a parent. Explain what happened to them, show them that you love them and make peace. Know that this happens to other mothers as well – it’s not just you.
Treat yourself with compassion when these strong feelings come for a visit. Don’t shove them down or they will come back and bite you. Bring your awareness to what is going on. Put your hand on your heart and acknowledge your feelings. Recognise that this is a moment of difficulty and that it is temporary. Tell yourself that you are okay and that this will pass. And then decide what you want to focus your attention on or change (if anything). Do not waste a minute beating yourself up.
So give yourself permission to be human. Take back your power and give yourself what you need, whether it be a little snooze, these shoes you have been eyeing for months or even the permission to feel frustrated or angry. You do not need anyone else’s approval. You know yourself best. You just need to check in every now and then and listen to the whispers of your heart.