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Is guilt a given when you are a working parent?
I talk to so many parents about trying to manage the ever changing and ever growing guilt around trying to be all things to all people. It can often be a difficult and challenging juggle when you have a job to do, the house needs sorting and your children need taking care of 24/7. This doesn’t even include contemplating what your individual needs are, and that its important to have time and space for yourselves, whether that be to rest and reset or to spend time socialising and having fun with friends.
It may feel familiar, as so many of us do this, that you put yourself at the bottom of that list, and then may actually find yourself occasionally resenting your life, wishing you could find more hours in a day, and wondering how other people and families seem to manage and have it all! Now when we do make the time and effort to put ourselves first occasionally, this is where it can lead to feeling guilty, as there is always something else we ‘could’ or ‘should’ be doing. I don’t think I have met a parent yet who doesn’t find themselves trying to manage everything as best they can and yet still feel guilty in and amongst everything else, its almost like we can’t win.
A number of years ago I was able to understand guilt and see it for what it really is, and I want to share that with you now as it was a great relief for me. Guilt is a feeling just like any other, and feelings always come from our thinking, not our external circumstances, but our thoughts about our external circumstances. We can often be tricked into thinking that we feel guilt because its an indicator that we need to do better, that we are not enough, and we need to make some changes or improvements. However, guilt comes from our thoughts about ourselves and our situation, so the feelings of guilt come from thoughts such as, I need to do more, I should be spending more time with my kids, I am not on top of my work and so on.
When I started to really see that my feelings of guilt came from the thoughts I had about myself, I started to see guilt as a wonderful alarm and indicator for me to actually lower my expectations of myself, relieve the pressure and be much more patient and compassionate with myself! It is simply and indicator that our thoughts have gone off in an unhelpful direction. When we see thoughts for what they are, thoughts and not facts, we can much more easily let them come and go, creating much more space for thoughts around how amazing we are at managing the juggle even when we lose sight of that. If you can do one thing for yourself today, remember you are only ever doing your best and that is more than good enough!
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