Shame is one of the most unpleasant emotions humans experience. It can make us feel sad, angry, disappointed, and more. Over time, shame can severely damage our feelings of self-worth and make us feel like we’re inadequate.
Unfortunately, mom shame is a standard part of society that damages women’s mental health — but we can change that. With these five healthy methods at your disposal, you can overcome shame and remove it from your life and the lives of other moms too.
1. Learn To Label Mom Shame
In her book Daring Greatly, author and researcher Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, says, “The less we talk about shame, the more power it has over our lives. If we cultivate enough awareness about shame to name it and speak to it, we’ve basically cut it off at the knees.”
In other words, the best way to overcome mom shame is by simply learning to identify and label it. Instead of hiding and avoiding the feelings of guilt, you can say to yourself, “I am feeling shame. What is causing that?” Once you label it, you can process the reason behind the emotion and reclaim your power.
2. Talk It Out With Your Partner
Most women instinctively hide feelings of shame out of fear. However, sharing those feelings with a loved one can actually help you overcome the emotions and stop those feelings dead in their tracks. For this reason, Dr. Tracy Dalgleish of Motherly suggests that moms share their feelings of shame with their partners from time to time.
When you share your feelings with your partner, you gain several things. For starters, you may learn that you’re not alone in your feelings — your significant other may very well experience these feelings too. You can also receive some empathy and understanding from them, which can help you feel less alone and more empowered to cope or reframe your negative thoughts.
3. Separate Your Identity From Your Actions
Most moms look for validation based on their parenting and ability to juggle child-raising and a successful career. According to psychiatrist David Sack, M.D. of Psychology Today, attaching your self-worth to your actions can regularly cause overwhelming shame. Because of this, Dr. Sack recommends that moms learn how to separate their identity from their actions as much as possible.
When we define ourselves by what we do, we place all of our self-esteem and validation into the hands of others. It can cause disappointment and shame if we feel like others don’t appreciate us or they criticize our actions.
By separating our actions from our sense of self, we feel more confident and don’t worry so much about how others may see our actions. Instead, we can better accept parenting advice or feedback from others because we know it’s supposed to help, not tear us down.
Separating these can take time, but it’s worth it in the end because it helps quiet those feelings of mom shame that can overwhelm us.
4. Reset Your Feelings Of Mom Shame With Meditation
Meditation can serve as a powerful tool for anxiety, anger, or even emotional dysregulation in kids and parents. What’s more, Pam Davis with The Younique Foundation says meditation can also help moms cope with feelings of shame.
According to Davis, meditation allows you to observe your feelings and thoughts without judging them. Instead, you simply notice them and learn to move on to the next thought or feeling you experience. Over time, practicing this mindful dismissal of shame can help you learn to overcome those thoughts and feelings quickly.
If meditation is hard for you, start with quick, five-minute meditations. You can also use a meditation app that will provide guided meditations until you get the hang of it.
5. Practice Acceptance and Self-Compassion
For most moms, the feelings of mom shame are mostly caused by our own thoughts inside our heads, not comments from other people. We assume we’re not good enough or that other parents are judging our decisions and our kids’ behavior. Most of the time, though, that’s not the case at all!
For this reason, the team at Healthline says moms can “talk back” to the shame monster inside their heads by practicing acceptance and self-compassion. To do this, you have to reframe negative appraisals of yourself as they come up and replace them with something more beneficial.
For example, if you tell yourself, “I shouldn’t feel this way,” try replacing it with a phrase like, “My feelings are valid.” By simply changing the phrase, you practice acceptaning yourself as you are and showing yourself some compassion along the way. The more you do this, the easier it will become — and the quieter that voice of shame will become inside your mind.
Shame is a common emotion for moms, but that doesn’t mean it needs to rule our lives. By using these five proven methods, moms can overcome that overwhelming feeling of shame and reclaim the power it holds over them.
Previously Published on Moms.com
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