“Mother the mother. Take inspiration from that unconditional love you have for your children. You can forgive them anything they have done – you can do that for yourself as well.” Sarah Napthali
Reading this quote makes me wonder why we tend to be our harshest critic as first-time mums. Is it our perfectionism? Is it the fear to be a failure as a mother? Or is it because we’re trying to please everyone? Maybe it´s all of the above or something completely different for you. Whatever it is though, I know one thing for sure and that is that we need to drop the high expectations we put on ourselves and start having more self-compassion.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we shouldn’t strive to be amazing mums (whatever that means for you personally) on a daily basis. What I am saying though is that we do need to be able to forgive ourselves when we fail to be the mothers we want to be. We’re all human and part of being human is that we make mistakes. I think what really matters is that we take responsibility for our actions, apologise to people we might have upset with our behaviour and take it as an opportunity to learn, so we can do better next time.
We have a chance to show our little ones that no one is perfect and teach them what they can do when they made a mistake
What would you like your child to do when they make a mistake? Would you want them to beat themselves up and feel like a failure? Or would you want them to own their mistakes and apologise? I know which one I’d choose…. We know that our children will make mistakes and even though we don’t necessarily like it, we accept and even expect it to some degree. But because we´re adults we struggle to extend the same courtesy to ourselves.
We are so gentle and caring with our little ones, but when it comes to ourselves, we seem to forget that being compassionate includes having compassion for ourselves. We are sleep deprived and exhausted because our little ones keep us up all night and we just can’t seem to get a break. Yet, we expect us to be the perfect mother, wife, daughter, friend etc. We always expect us to have it together and I call BS on that! Having those sorts of expectations only sets us up for failure and it´s time for us to be a bit more realistic.
You won’t be a calm and gentle mama all the time and that’s ok. You’re giving your best and I want you to know that you’re good enough!
I know from my own experience as well as from coaching other first-time mums that we often struggle with self-compassion and that’s why I’d like to share some tips with you on how you can dial down the expectations you have for yourself and start being more compassionate with yourself.
1. Stop judging others
This might sound like a bit an odd step to start being more compassionate with yourself, but let me tell you something: How you judge others is how you judge yourself. What that means is that the judgement you place on other people is often an extension of your self-judgement. Next time you catch yourself judging someone ask yourself “Do I have this same behaviour or attitude that I judge within myself in some shape or form? Or would I like to be a bit more like them in a way?” If the answer to one of those questions is yes, then that’s something you can explore further for yourself, which in return can help you to become more accepting not just of others but also of yourself.
2. Laugh about your mistakes
I’m serious about this! (Pun intended.) In order to let go of perfectionism it’s necessary to remind ourselves that EVERYONE makes mistakes, including ourselves. Once you accepted this fact, you can start seeing mistakes for what they really are: learning opportunities.
Laughter can help you to deal with the initial embarrassment, disbelief or whatever emotion might come up at the time. Laughter is the best medicine, because it instantly shifts your mood and helps you to release stress and tension. Plus, it’s contagious and it might shift someone else´s mood as well when you´re able to laugh about yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Nobody is perfect!
3. Write yourself a love note
This might feel a bit awkward at first but trust me it’s a great way to remind yourself how awesome you actually are! Start with writing down “[Your first name], you are amazing, because …” and then write down things you appreciate about yourself. I understand that this might feel weird at first, especially if your self-talk is usually quite negative. But give it a go anyway. It’s not about getting it perfect. Just write down a few positive things about yourself - no matter how big or small they are.
Once you’re done, put the note somewhere where you’ll see it regularly. You could put it in your planner, your wallet or take a photo of it and have it as your screensaver on your phone, whatever works best for you. The more you’ll see it the better. Also, if you can´t think of many things to write, you’ll possibly come up with more things over time. It can be a slow process, but it’s a powerful one to change your negative self-talk. Trust me!
I hope those 3 tools will help you to realise that it’s totally possible to be as compassionate to yourself as you are to your little one. It´s a process that takes time, but I really hope that you will use those tips to start making some positive changes in your life. You deserve to be treated kindly – not just by others but also by yourself!
If you feel like you have a long way to go to become more compassionate towards and accepting of yourself, feel free to send me an email at email@example.com to see how I can help you.