Guest blog by: Lisa Abramson best-selling author of The Wise Mama Guide to Maternity Leave: Avoid Burnout, “Bad Mom Syndrome,” and Other Common Pitfalls of Motherhood
Being a mom is hard. Being sleep deprived is extremely hard. And when we’re exhausted, our inner critic can get even louder than normal—essentially kicking us when we’re down.
So, what can we do to quiet our inner critic and better support ourselves even when we’re feeling depleted?
Here are 6 things you can do right now to be kinder to yourself this Valentine’s Day, as a gift to yourself.
Put yourself at the top of the list.
Start to understand how important taking care of you is for the health and wellbeing of your whole family. If you feel guilty practicing self-care or think it’s “selfish” to spend time alone or away from your kiddos, start to question where these beliefs came from and whether or not they are serving you. Is your self-care only reserved for times when stuff really hits the fan or when you “deserve” it? See if you can adopt a new mantra such as: “I deserve to have my needs met,” “I’m worth it,” or “Taking great care of me makes me an even better mom.”
Notice your inner critic.
This first step is all about mindfulness. Anytime you find yourself saying you’re a bad mom or criticizing yourself, notice the troubling thoughts. Once you notice the thoughts, acknowledge them by saying “I hear you, but I’ve got this.” You can acknowledge the thoughts while also not believing them as facts.
This is the most effective way to silence your inner critic. Fighting with your inner critic just makes him/her even louder.
Acknowledge the pain caused by your inner critic.
Stop and pay attention to how you feel when you’re ragging on yourself. Say to yourself “Ouch, this hurts,” and acknowledge the emotional pain caused by speaking unkindly to yourself.
Recognize that others experience difficult emotions just like you do.
It’s natural and normal to feel difficult emotions when our inner critic is pointing out our perceived flaws. Tap into the wisdom and comfort that comes from knowing you’re not alone in this. We all feel this way from time to time.
Take a self-compassion break.
See if you can talk to yourself like a dear friend would. Take action to give yourself the compassion you need. Or, if that feels too hard, simply set the intention to do so. Listen to this five minute self-compassion meditation, or take a few minutes to journal or grab a comforting cup of warm tea or coffee. If you have more time, you might want to text a friend for support, go for a brief walk or take a relaxing bath once the kiddos are down for the night.
Know when to get additional support.
If you feel like your inner critic is running the show and causing you distress, or you’re not feeling like yourself since becoming a mom, it could be helpful to talk with a therapist. Asking for help takes an incredible amount of courage as does letting someone come in and support you. So, if you’re feeling under water, don’t delay. Find local support here.
Lastly, it can be helpful to connect with your “why” and find a deeper and personal meaning for starting to change your inner dialogue. My biggest incentive for being kinder to myself has always been to be a better role model to my daughters. I want to lead by example and show them what a healthy relationship to self-care looks like. I want them to see that mom taking care of her needs is not only ok, but wonderful. And, remember, having needs doesn’t make you “needy,” it just makes you human.
So, here’s to you taking care of you this Valentine’s Day and beyond.
Lisa Abramson is an executive coach, mindfulness teacher and best-selling author of The Wise Mama Guide to Maternity Leave: Avoid Burnout, “Bad Mom Syndrome,” and Other Common Pitfalls of Motherhood. As a trusted coach, Lisa has worked with senior executives, consultants and high performers of both large companies and startups and lead workshops at organizations like Cisco, Salesforce, Microsoft and the Stanford Graduate School of Business on Mindfulness and Creating Sustainable Success.
Her popular mindfulness meditations have been streamed around the globe over 750,000 times and she has been featured in Fast Company, NPR (She Wanted To Be The Perfect Mom, Then Landed In A Psychiatric Unit), Health Magazine, Refinery29, The Guardian and numerous other publications and podcasts.
She is a mom of two girls, survivor of Postpartum Psychosis and has given a moving TEDx talk about her transition into motherhood that’s been viewed over 60,000 times. For more information, visit: www.lisaabramson.com/
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