Do you remember what people said when you told them you were expecting a child?
Congratulations! How exciting! So pleased for you!
Then, perhaps, you notice the knowing looks between those that already have children, you get the pat on the shoulder, the gentle jibes about dirty nappies and sleepless night. This of course, is all softened with the messages that this will be the most amazing experience of your life and that you cannot even imagine how much you'll love this little person etc etc.
Love is indeed an extremely powerful emotion that comes easily to many of us when a child enters our world... but why oh why did no-one mention the GUILT!! Having discussed this with many clients, therapists and friends, guilt would appear to be one of the most familiar emotions to be experienced once we enter parenthood. To admit it though, somehow feels a little taboo; I can't help thinking that parents even feel guilty about admitting they feel guilty!
Let's look at the facts and dispel a few myths...
~ You are not alone
Just because people may not like to admit it, most of us feel guilty about our perceived shortcomings as parents. Too impatient, too soft, not enough money, can't do long multiplication, too tired, in a bad mood, kids in a bad mood, overwhelmed, praying for 7pm... the list is endless. Talk about how you're feeling, with friends, family, even with your children. They need to know that no-one is perfect; a very important lesson that will prevent them from unwanted 'perfectionist' traits later on.
~ Nothing exists above your best
Comparing ourselves to others or what we believe others expect of us is unhelpful and unrealistic. We tend to reflect negatively on past events, wishing we’d said something different, reacted better or remained calmer, but we don’t get to rewrite history. If you're doing your best, then the only thing that exists above that - is stress. By focussing on the positives; on what you do have and what's going well, you will shift the focus away from the negatives.
~ Perfection is an illusion
If you find yourself constantly focussed on creating perfection rather than enjoying the reality of the life you have, you're going to find yourself dissatisfied and frustrated as well as missing out on enjoying the present. Wishing you had handled a situation differently, or that you could afford something you can't, will only generate more negative thoughts or mood. Do try not to focus too hard on the "show-reel" of other people's lives that plays out on social media; remember, we ALL have "cutting room floor" full of the out-takes.
Children don’t need perfection, in fact they will benefit from knowing that
~ their best is always good enough
~ they matter just as they are
~ life can be messy - but they have the tools to cope
Be kind to yourself, embrace the life you have, appreciate your strengths rather than your perceived weaknesses and cut yourself a break!
If you'd like help managing perfectionism traits, boosting self confidence or self acceptance, get in touch for a free consultation. Let's talk.