Let Go of Guilt

We’re giving you permission to lighten your load! Author Connie Sokol shares advice for letting go of the “mom guilt.”

As mothers, guilt can unintentionally become our best—but worst—friend if we’re not careful.

I’ve found there are two kinds of guilt—positive and pointless. Positive guilt is the type that makes you realize you need to listen better to your children, focus on helping others, or be kinder to your spouse. Pointless guilt is like a running negative conversation in your head. It continually says you’re doing it wrong, you’re stupid, you should have chosen something different, you should be more productive, etc. It’s negative talk with a weight attachment.

You’ll know which guilt is which by how you respond. Positive guilt leads to a positive action—we want to remedy it and be a better person. Pointless guilt makes us eat a pan of brownies. It weighs us down, makes us feel badly about ourselves, and leads to defensiveness, comparing, and self-loathing.

From not having the cutest cupcakes at the school party to not being able to be at every single baseball game/piano recital/scout award ceremony, pointless guilt is exactly that—pointless.

To let go, try asking yourself one of these questions:

Is it a good thing? Sometimes we feel guilty for things that are good, that are a matter of motherhood, but we fear it’s wrong. A friend did a “staycation” at their home with their husband, while the little ones went to Grandma’s house. At first she felt guilty for being away from them, and then for having a good time! Then she realized, this was a good thing and made her a better mother.

Is it essential? Sometimes we get caught up in other people’s traditions that become the norm, but perhaps it doesn’t work for us. We have taken ONE official family picture in the last 20 years of our married lives. I felt guilty for a long time about that until I realized I have plenty, plenty of spontaneous shots, and love to scrapbook them. What matters to me is that I have pictures of my children and our family—whether they’re official or spontaneous, is not essential.

Was it within my control?
Women tend to berate themselves for things that they couldn’t control. They see the situation and wring their hands but they’ve done all they can do. And yet, they still feel guilty. A lady I have stewardship over just had a baby while I was in Paris. I’d contacted people to take care of her before I left but for various reasons, they didn’t. I felt horrible! But, it wasn’t within my control. When I got home I moved on it, but I had to let the guilt go.

Remember, if it wasn’t in your control, explain, validate sad feelings of the other person, and get an ice cream together! If it was in your control, then apologize, make it right and move on.

Connie Sokol is a mother of seven, national presenter, former TV and radio host, and author of several books, including the newly released “Life is Too Short Collection.” For tips, columns, products and podcasts, visit www.conniesokol.com.

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