We live in a society where we are always told to be better, faster, stronger, thinner, richer. Might sound harsh..but come on you know its true. How many times have you heard/said to yourself “I should exercise more”, “I should lose weight”, “I should work harder”, “I should be nicer to strangers in line” Okay that last one might just be me.
My point is we live in a world of shoulds a world of judgements. News flash, should is a judgement word and we judge ourselves more than anybody else ever could. Next news flash, this isn’t one of those things that necessarily gets better with age or goes away when you become a mom. Unfortunately it usually gets worse when motherhood is on the horizon. I can explain why in detail but it would take about three blog posts or $120 in my office so what I will do is give you the general idea. Motherhood comes with lots of first and changes, which creates more anxiety and grief…yes ladies don’t get holier than thou on me now, we have all grieved (our former bodies, free time, peeing alone, sleep, alcohol, money….I can go on and on). This is NORMAL! However, the judgement – the “shoulds” this creates can be harmful to us.
Let me explain what I mean by harmful. Our thoughts create our feelings. If you have a negative thought you are going to have a negative emotion. If you have a positive thought you are going to have a positive emotion. Understand? Great, congrats, this is your first lesson in cognitive therapy and you didn’t even know you signed up for the class! When we judge ourselves we are saying/thinking we are not enough, we HAVE to change. No wonder moms are always stressed out and tired, those thoughts sound exhausting to keep up with!
What if instead we thought, I am enough today, and I can strive to be better if I want. That feels a lot better to me.
Moms are constantly looking at how we should have handled the past better, and worrying about the future. We are the glue that holds our family together, the ones that look at the big picture and who plan ahead so everyone is taken care of. And it is in our DNA and our hormones to protect our children. And we worry, this isn’t going to change. However, we CAN control how much we worry and how much it effects us. It is so easy to let the “shoulds” go unnoticed and become a habit.
You may be “shoulding” yourself all the time and not even know it.
So here’s the thing, we grieve and we worry, but we also celebrate. Motherhood is a gift, a miracle, and no matter how often we want to scream and run for a bar in the Bahamas we wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. And here’s another thing, we are doing the best we can. I’ll say it again.
We. Are. Doing. The. Best. We. Can. and that best is ENOUGH. So PLEASE stop judging yourself.
I’ve been there, and I’ve observed it in so many amazing mommies I know, we “should” all over ourselves. Stop it right now!! I am asking…nope scratch that…I am challenging each of you to take the Could not Should Challenge (I just made that up). For one week (I’d prefer a month but lets start with a week) pay attention to your thoughts and your words. If you hear yourself think or say “should” change it to “COULD”. It is as simple as that. Okay there is a lot more we can work on, or I’d be out of a job, but it’s a start. Don’t believe me? Try it. “I should go to the gym more” vs. “I could go to the gym more” see how I took the pressure off? So for a week, change as many “shoulds” to “coulds” as you can. Then see how you feel.
In fact let me know how you feel. Leave a comment here or on my Facebook page @melissafishergoldmanLCSW www.facebook.com/melissafishergoldmanLCSW (I don’t Twitter, that seems like too much for me. Sometimes I think I SHOULD, then I say I COULD and think no thanks not today 😉 )
We can start a revolution no more Shoulding on yourself. We can even have hashtags, because revolutions have hashtags, I’ve been told. #istoppedshouldingonmyself #couldnotshouldchallenge If you have a better one I’m listening. Remember it takes 21 days to create a habit. So you Could change your thinking, and your life today 🙂