Are you a mom who is incredibly hard on herself? Who constantly thinks about what she should be doing, but isn’t? Who believes that she is not a good enough mom/daughter/worker/friend/etc.?
So many of the moms I see in my practice are super-critical of themselves. They focus on what they feel they should be doing, and end up feeling miserable and guilty as a result. And of course, when they are preoccupied with what they aren’t doing, they’re less effective at parenting and working.
We mothers hold ourselves to impossibly high standards, and expect more of ourselves than we would ever expect of fellow mom friends. In an effort to get ourselves out of our own heads, it can be helpful to try a classic CBT technique: ask yourself what you would tell a friend in your same situation.
To illustrate, consider this scenario: A working mom feels guilty because she does not “go the extra mile” at work. Let’s say Tracy, a mom of three, is feeling very bad about saying “no” to an extra project at work. Tracy technically has the time to complete this project. But Tracy is exhausted and stressed and feels like she can barely manage her work and her kids as it is.
What if Tracy had a friend in Tracy’s situation? What might Tracy say to her friend?
Perhaps something like this: Even though you are technically able to take on this project, you have your hands full managing three young children. This project would necessitate working nights and weekends. Is it fair to ask yourself to devote what little free time you have to additional work? It’s important to use your precious free time to do something that’s purely for you, whether it’s watching Bachelorette episodes on the DVR or taking a walk outside in the sunshine. You deserve some time off!
That sounds pretty reasonable, right? Based on this exercise, Tracy realized that she needed to start showing herself the same compassion she would show a friend, if a friend were in her shoes.
Have any experience trying out the “What would I tell a friend” technique? Tell us about it in the “comments” section below!