I know Mindset has been a big buzzword lately and is often overused or misunderstood. However, as a registered social worker, with over 12 years of experience in the field, I can honestly say that Mindset is everything. Our thoughts hold so much power as they can dictate our mood, emotions, and even our behaviors.
As moms I feel we have an even greater responsibility to be mindful of our mindset as our energy often influences that of our family’s. In Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) we believe that our thoughts are largely responsible for our emotions. An event on its own doesn’t cause an emotion – it’s our interpretation of that event that does. And unfortunately, our thoughts aren’t always the most accurate. However, the neat thing is that we can learn to control our emotions and behaviors by learning how to interpret situations in a different way. And since overwhelm is a feeling we can use a couple key mindset shifts to help overcome that feeling of overwhelm or stress.
I love this quote by Lori Jackson, “Our mindset is an established set of attitudes created in our brain. Mastering our mindset – changing the lens – requires us to retrain our brain to see the good already there. It is not a matter of working harder to find happiness, just smarter.”
- Grace Over Guilt – Mama, society is hard enough on moms as it is. (Thanks popular mom culture ** eye roll**) We don’t need to be putting unattainable expectations on ourselves too. We need to transition the Mom Guilt mindset to a mindset of grace. When you come from a place of grace it means you are owning the fact that regardless of what you get done or don’t get done in a day you are still a good mom – you are enough!
One more important thing to understand about guilt is that guilt is a normal healthy emotion. The purpose of guilt is to tell us that something isn’t in alignment with our values. This means that most of the time when moms label their feeling as guilt, it is actually shame or sadness. Let me give you an example…. I am a working mom. I come home from work, feed my children dinner and then go upstairs to get ready as I am going out on my monthly date with my husband. I have been looking forward to this time with my spouse for weeks but as I start getting ready and hear the kids whining about having a babysitter I begin to feel “mom guilt”. My thoughts start to tell me that maybe I shouldn’t be going out. Or that I am a bad mom for leaving my kids with a sitter. However, if I was to stop and reflect on my feeling of guilt I would realize that going out with my husband for a special date is fully in alignment with my values. So, as I reflect on my emotions, I come to understand that what I am actually experiencing is sadness as I am going to miss not putting my kids to bed and I am sad that they are going to miss me. But because I don’t like that feeling of sadness I try to discharge it by shaming myself and telling myself that what I am doing is wrong and label it mom guilt. I hope that makes sense and that you are able to begin to transition from a mindset of guilt to grace.
- Radical acceptance – There is this thing in counseling called radical acceptance. Radical acceptance is learning to truly accept and let go of the things we cannot change and learning to cope in a healthy way with the difficult emotions that are present. When you start to feel overwhelmed, I encourage you to stop and make a list with two columns. As you reflect on all that is causing you stress, on one side of the paper list all of the things that are in your control and on the other side list all of the things that are not in your control. Then make a decision that everything on the “I have no control over this” list you are going to radically accept and find a way to make the best of it or to cope through. Ps. Radical acceptance is hard and takes practice and still comes with hardship and heartache. But ultimately it will bring you peace and joy.
Secondly, take that “I have control over '' list and choose 1 thing that you can do to make something on that list less stressful whether it is accomplishing something, having an important conversation with someone, or choosing forgiveness and a mindset shift. When we come from a place of lack, scarcity, or over controlling we experience lack, fear, and stress. But when we can be intentional about our response and come from a place of abundance and calm we will experience abundance, clarity, and calm, even when life is challenging.
- Balanced over stressed – Did you know that feeling stressed or balanced is actually a choice? That we actually have the power to choose not to feel stressed out even when things are busy and chaotic around us? It’s true!
I love this quote from Rebecca Olsen, “Balance is not found in a perfect schedule, a low-stress job, a family-friendly company, or a supportive husband. Balance is a feeling. It is literally found inside my body. Which means I need to look inside of me to create it.”
Two simple ways that we can create a mindset of balance is practicing our gratitudes and monitoring our self-talk. When we truly reflect on and express our gratitudes we train our brain to scan the world for the positive. Take a minute to pause and find the joy in the little things.
And, like I mentioned above, our thoughts are powerful so when things get stressful, we need to
give ourselves a good ol’ pep talk. One of the things that I find most helpful when I start to get stressed and overwhelmed by all of the things going on is to remind myself that I can only do 1 thing at a time, so I ask myself what is the next best right step and focus on that.
Lastly, I want to end with this thought…. All those unhealthy mindsets (mom guilt, hot mess mom, Pinterest Perfect mom etc.) are socially created by someone else. All of those mindsets are based on someone else’s expectations of you and of motherhood. You have the power to unsubscribe from those limiting beliefs and to create a mindset that truly serves you and your family and releases you from the grip of overwhelm. What are you going to choose?
About the author
Sarah Reckman is a social worker, certified life coach and the host of the Wholehearted Mom Podcast. Sarah coaches working moms to make life simpler, balanced, and more joy-filled.