The most pervasive feeling I come across when I talk to mums is that they feel guilty. An endless, gut-sucking, guilt of not being good enough.
When I ask them why, only a handful have a reason that is genuinely blameworthy. That means that almost everyone is feeling guilty, for a host of reasons, but for reasons that only they believe. The rest of us would be saying ‘give yourself a break’, ‘you’re doing brilliantly’, ‘it’s such a hard job’, ‘the demands are ceaseless – you can’t be everything to everyone all the time’.
What can we do about this epidemic of guilt? Parenting is such a demanding (albeit rewarding) role and you want to do it from a resourceful place. A state of mind that brings out the best in you and allows you to believe in yourself and your ability to deal with whatever may come your way today.
So I want to talk about the yoga of permission. Giving yourself permission to believe you are a ‘good enough’ parent and in fact, that is all you need to be for your children to thrive.
Let’s start by taking an honest look at what a child needs, because I can promise you it is not perfection. From you, or from them. Perfect is an impossibility and we need to stop setting that as the goal for ourselves or for our children. Instead, children need to see their parents accepting and dealing with their imperfections and mistakes and growing from them. If they see Mum or Dad handling a mistake with humour and self-compassion, they are going to be able to do the same for themselves when the time comes.
Think of that – think of the resilience that would bring your child. To be able to fail, and to acknowledge the hurt or disappointment honestly, while still learning whatever can be learned and forgiving the failure straightaway. Wouldn’t that be magical?
So how can we learn to do it ourselves?
The first step is a technique that Granddaddy of the positive psychology movement, Professor Martin Seligman, calls disputation and energisation in his work on learned optimism. This work is based on recognising that your thoughts and beliefs about a situation create feelings, those feelings create behaviours, and behaviours have consequences – which of course then set off a new set of beliefs, with new feelings, behaviours, consequences. We can learn the 5-step ABCDE model for changing our beliefs and letting go of that mum guilt.
AUTHOR: JOANNE SUMNER
YOGA TRAINER, SURREY
Joanne Sumner is a coach and trainer in Yoga, Reiki, Meditation and Flower Essences. Joanne specialises in helping busy women rediscover their purpose, passion and peace.