Emotional Regulation

3 Steps to End The Toxic Relationship Between Guilt And Self-Care.

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Today we’re gonna be talking about the toxic relationship between self-care and guilt and why they need to break up with each other. It’s this crazy but common dynamic that happens when you go to do something you want or need to do but you’re meet with guilt.

These two, self-care and guilt, They’ve been listening to Mariah Carry for way too long – We belong together.

No, you don’t belong together, ok?!

So I’m gonna give you three steps to end the toxic relationship between guilt and self-care. Let’s get to it. 

Ya know, I believe one of the biggest ways that you can show up for yourself, not get lost in motherhood, and truly live a life that aligns with what you want, is being able to take care of yourself. 

But I also know taking care of yourself while being a mom might be the struggle of all struggles. Having two toddlers requesting, in many different ways, my attention, I get it. 

And then you add in guilt and it becomes even harder to do what already seems impossible. So let’s talk about that for just a second. 

Ok I know I don’t have to ask you this. I know you get it. But I just want to make sure that we are on the same page. that we see eye to eye, you and I, we’re here. ok!

Have you ever finally got the opportunity to do a little bit of self-care – you’ve got the support from your spouse, family, and friends, you’ve got the time and energy and now it’s just you and your plans to do a little self-care. 

Whatever self-care is for you right? Last week we talked about how self-care is on a spectrum. IF you haven’t checked that out, I definitely recommend that you do that. But yea, you have this opportunity to take care of yourself. You’re like doing this internal dance like ooohhh yea, I finally get to go to target and live my wildest dreams. I finally get to exercise. Have some quiet time. Focus on whatever it is that brings you joy, right. You’re getting ready, you’re getting pumped, and then… 

BAM.

Out of nowhere, you’re hit with…guilt. And she says 

“I know you didn’t think you were actually going to do that right?”

“Having peace and quiet? Having fun?” What kind of mother would choose to do something she enjoys over spending time with her kids. Are you saying your kids aren’t fun enough? 

She starts to tell you you’re being selfish for having some alone time. For only thinking about yourself when your kids need you. 

Or this one, this is a good one.

Guilt says, “maybe you need so many breaks because you’re not good at this”.

She says… “ohhh I get it. You can’t hold it all together like the other moms. Yea, because they don’t complain about not having time to take care of themselves. Got it. You’re the issue.” 

Been there?

I’ve heard those things before. I’ve heard guilt try to whisper those things to me. I’ve heard it from my clients and my online community.

So if you’ve heard it, you’re not the only one. 

Guilt, the feeling that you’ve done something wrong, can be the thing that blocks you from taking care of your needs.

Those whispers turn into loud screams whenever you go to do something for yourself. 

When it comes to self-care, guilt might actually be rooted in some unhelpful thoughts or beliefs that you have about what it means to take care of yourself, especially since becoming a mom. 

Because I don’t know about you, but I never questioned whether I was wrong for doing something I needed or wanted to do before having kids.

It was pretty straightforward.

If I wanted to do something, especially if that something brought me joy and helped me mentally or physically. I didn’t have this lingering feeling of guilt hanging around. 

Now of course, with all things, guilt is not inherently a bad thing.

It can actually help keep us in line with our values and priorities. But often when it comes to self-care, guilt is the overflow of unrealistic beliefs. 

So, maybe these beliefs come from your own upbringing.

Things like watching or not watching your caregivers take care of themselves. It quite possibly might be society and media molding your view that moms all-knowing, all-doing, the all-caring for everyone, except for themselves. 

So these things that you’ve absorbed all these years shows up in a mighty way when you got to do the opposite of what’s been laid before you. 

Because you’re doing the opposite of what we’ve seen, it makes you believe that you’ve done something wrong.

And, of course, nobody wants to feel like they’re doing wrong. So we try to fix it. You don’t wanna be bad so you’re like I need to get rid of this. I need to fix this!

And oftentimes that fixing looks like not doing something that might actually be good for you. might actually be what you need to go from surviving to living. To go from being left behind in your life to being included and considered in your life. 

Let me give you an example of this. 

Say you have been missing your creative outlet of painting or something. Let’s go with painting. You’re a painter now. 

You know that once you start painting you just feel so free and so much like yourself. You know that painting is your outlet for processing your feelings and having free reign over releasing stress. You’re not worried about being perfect or performing while you’re painting. it’s just you, your paint and brush, and a blank canvas. And it’s your safe haven, especially after those physically and mentally exhausting days.

You know those days right?

When everything that could go sideways in your day does. It starts with one of the kids waking up at 4:30 and ends with no one wanting to eat their dinner. Those days. umm hmm. 

But you know, as this fabulous painter that you are, that you have your paint, your brush, and your blank canvas waiting on you. 

You think about it. You start to build up the gut to ask your spouse for some time alone tomorrow so you can go paint. 

But guilt steps in “do you know how much time that’s going to take you?” The kids are gonna miss you. It’s supposed to be a family day. And aren’t you gonna miss the kids. What are you, against spending time with your family now? 

so you don’t do it. you don’t paint. even though you know painting is exactly what you know you need to do. 

You know you need an outlet. a way to take care of yourself and replenish. But guilt is loud and she said you shouldn’t do it because it’ll make you look bad. So you don’t do it.

You see? Do you see it? Ok. 

This toxic relationship between guilt and self-care does it again. They start doing this weird thing where they leave you feeling discouraged, confused, and wrong for doing something so good. 

So now, how in the world do you move past these polarizing accusations from guilt that you’re being selfish or wrong for wanting to take care of yourself? How do you not let it get to you? How do you break up the toxic relationship between guilt and self-care. 

Well, here’s how I think you can do this. Here are my three steps to ending the toxic relationship between guilt and self-care

NUMBER ONE

Recognize that just because guilt is showing up, it doesn’t mean you’re actually doing something wrong.

Remember that guilt can be attached to some unhealthy and unrealistic expectations. And the key here is unhealthy and unrealistic. 

In the example I used earlier about painting and having that creative space to process and release stress. What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with painting? What’s wrong with a good set of acrylic paint and a blank canvas? What’s wrong with having time to do something you enjoy, something you need?

Nothing! Nothing at all. 

I think oftentimes we can get stuck on the feeling of guilt and attach truth to it. But it doesn’t have to be true.

It could just be an invitation to revisit some old conditioning from society.

You can decline the invitation. You can say, guilt – no thank you. I know I’m not doing anything wrong by taking care of myself. I’m actually doing a lot of things right. By taking care of my needs and loving on myself, I’m setting myself up to love on my kids and spouse even better. I’m making sure my well doesn’t run dry.

And there’s everything right about that. Everything. 

So recognize that although the feeling of guilt is showing up, it doesn’t mean it’s true or even worth entertaining. 

NUMBER TWO

Reconnect to your why.

Truly, why is it important for you to take care of yourself? If nothing else, it’s because you’re worth taking care of too.

Your wants and needs deserve a spot in your life and meeting them does not make you selfish, it makes you human. Your why could also be because you’re setting a new generational tone of what it means to mom.

You’re giving your children a new definition of what it looks like to not do it all for everyone while leaving yourself behind. you’re setting new standards.

You’re also giving yourself attention and refusing to give in to the notion that you have to turn down the volume of your needs in order to listen to everyone else’s.

NO! You matter mama. And showing yourself that you matter starts with listening and honoring your needs. 

And this leads me to the final step.

NUMBER THREE

Respond to your needs even if guilt is still there.

Because let’s be real. It takes some time and effort and practice, ongoing practice to rewire our brain to not give into unhealthy and unrealistic beliefs.

This one is one of the things I tell the mamas in MYA. We have to keep at this thing and constantly practice and grow our brain muscles to think in new patterns. 

We often to hear, progress over perfection and I one hundred percent agree. but I like to take it one step further and say practice over progress.

Because sometimes we won’t see change the first, second, or tenth time that we do something. Sometimes it will feel like what you’re learning isn’t working.

But maybe true learning is practicing.

Stabilizing on one idea. Practicing some more. And then one day, we start to see the progress. 

So say, after you’ve recognized that just because you’ve heard guilt whispering to you that you don’t have to believe that it’s true, you’ve also connected to your why, and you know the importance of seeing and meeting your needs you STILL feel that guilt.

You still hear that little whisper. 

I encourage you, mama, to respond to your wants and needs with action instead of responding to guilt with compliance.

In other words, listen to your wants and needs instead of listening to guilt. 

Follow through with your self-care, even if guilt is haunting you down. Because in doing so, you’re again turning up your needs and turning down guilt.

As you move, take action, you’ll start to hear guilt’s volume get lower and lower. 

There’s so much research about how movement helps us combat our obstacles.

If we’re able to see this mountain (in this case the mountain of self-care) if we’re able to see that and STILL move forward we’ll start to see that hmmm that wasn’t so bad. 

I had a great time…painting.

I felt so much better after I took a nap.

I felt so much better after I went to therapy or started going to a group.

Whatever your self-care is, right. You’ll start to notice your body’s response and your mind’s response. You’ll start to notice the way you interact with your kids with your spouse. You’ll start to see that your boundaries become a little clearer. Your values start shining through. 

You start to see that moving past the feeling of guilt when it comes to self-care was so much more helpful than being paralyzed by it. 

So just to recap the three steps to ending the toxic relationship between guilt and self-care is

  • recognizing that just because guilt is showing up, it doesn’t mean it’s true

  • reconnect to why self care is important to you in the first place

  • and lastly, respond to your needs not to your guilt.

So there you have it. Your blueprint to breaking up self-care and guilt. 

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