A few weeks ago, I was on a quick jaunt to Target. I hurried past the dollar section avoiding all eye contact with the charming merchandise that often seduces me into bringing it home but I couldn’t help sneaking a peek. I saw the freshly stocked shelves of mother’s day trinkets and came to an abrupt halt.
A white mug with gold hand lettering surrounded by a colorful ring of flowers caught my attention, and I picked it up. “Best Mom Ever” I sighed, set it down, and kept moving through the store.
The Truth About the “Best Mom Ever”
What is it about those three words that were so difficult to internalize? Is it the grandiose word “best” that reflects such an unattainable goal for perfection and implies if there is a winner then there sure must be a loser. And I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen any mugs out there that say “Second Best Mom” or “World’s Average Mother”.
Behind every “Best Mom Ever” mug is a woman who questions whether she measures up to those three simple words and often times doesn’t feel enough. Not skinny enough. Not smart enough. And certainly not a good enough mother.
In fact, a new national online survey found that 60 percent of adult women have negative thoughts about themselves on a weekly basis. And according to Brene Brown’s research, the number one thing women feel insecure about is their outer appearance with motherhood coming in as a close second. And surprisingly enough, you don’t even have to be a mother to feel the wrath of motherhood insecurity!
What’s Really Behind Motherhood Insecurity
A few years ago I wrote on motherhood guilt (here) and since then have come to discover that some of those feelings of unworthiness that women (myself included) have of not measuring up may indeed have another word for it. A much scarier and unmentionable word.
In the book “Daring Greatly” Brene Brown defines shame as an intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.
We all experience moments of shame. It lurks in the dark corners of our hearts and comes out when someone drops an un-announced visit to witness your sloppy home. It’s a cutting sarcastic comment from a loved one. It’s the time you forgot to pick up your son from soccer practice.
As women, we desire to be able to DO IT ALL!
And heaven help us if anyone saw us break a sweat while we’re at it. We want our efforts to seem effortless as if we are natural mothers, naturally beautiful, and “oh this old thing?” There is nothing more vulnerable than someone stripping off the “I can do it all while holding it together” mask and peering in to find a woman scrambling to keep all the balls in the air at once. When our true self is revealed (even the unlikable parts) the gremlins of shame come out to haunt us whispering things like, “You are fat. You are dumb. You are a bad mom.”
How to Build Shame Resilience
But now what? What do we do with this? According to Brene Brown, we can’t create a shame-resistant shield protecting us from the fiery darts of shame, but we certainly can build resilience to shame. And although her book goes more in depth, here are four things I am working on personally to combat shame.
1. Call it by Name
Shame loses it’s power once it’s been discovered. Calling it by name will also help you recognize and become more aware of its presence. Now that I have a word for that feeling, I am able to communicate and express myself with others more clearly.
2. Recognize Triggers
Pay attention to how it manifests in your body and the triggers. The more I become aware of moments where I feel shame, the less power it has. When my husband comes home and immediately begins to wash dishes, I begin to feel my chest tighten. This triggers my insecurity of not feeling like I can keep up with my standards of a clean home and I find myself on the defense. Now that I have the vocabulary and recognize shame, I can communicate that to my husband and recognize where the feelings are coming from.
3. Share your Story
Find someone empathetic and trusting to share your shame secrets with. Empathy is the antidote to shame and if you can reveal those moments of shame to someone who listens and understands, you will be able to let it go. Last year I was running late to a school meeting and forgot to pull out my sleeping baby from the car. Luckily, there was a happy ending to that story, but the shame gremlins kept after me and I was angry at myself for days. I bravely told a friend about my experience and with tears in her eyes she said, “It could happen to anyone of us.” That response was all I needed to hear to be able to shake off the shame, forgive myself, and move on.
4. Choose Love
My dear friend painted this watercolor as a gift and a reminder to “choose love” and self-compassion instead of shame. Print off this printable below and hang it somewhere you can see it daily. You could even frame it and give it away as a Mother’s Day gift! I would love to know that women all over the world are “choosing love” instead of shame.
Find how to download over –> here. <– or scroll to the bottom for the direct email link.
Not sure where you are with self-compassion? Take a self-compassionate quiz here to see how you are doing!
Join me in the #LiveToLoveProject
This Year I have a personal goal to live a more wholehearted life.
I am calling it #thelivetoloveproject.
We took the watercolor and added it to a calendar to help keep us on track and plan love into our month.
And wouldn’t this be such a cute Mother’s Day gift as well? You could print off a stack and include it with a clipboard. Or you could even frame the 11×17 and include a dry-erase marker as a gift.
Find out how to download here!
What Happened to the “Best Mom Ever”
On my way out of Target that day, I swung back by the dollar section and picked it up again. And it now sits on my desk as a reminder that I AM the best mom ever. I am certainly TRYING MY BEST and that IS ENOUGH.
I AM ENOUGH.
Find out more about my #livetoloveproject here!
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