Article content by Melanie Greenberg Ph.D.
Postpartum I’ve experienced a great amount of guilt. I’m trying to juggle baby, my two toddler daughters and a business. At the end of the day I just feel bad and guilty for not doing enough. I came across some great tips and tools by Dr. Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. that I can practice to change this pattern of guilt I’m feeling. Here is what she suggests us guilty-feeling people do:
- Look for the evidence
If you feel guilty, she says, because you’re not doing enough for your kids, partner, or family, list all the things that you regularly do for them. Then keep the list in your purse or wallet to pull out when guilt rears its head! I started a running “to do” list and now I’m checking it at the end of the day and just see everything that I really DID do. I don’t focus on what I still have left undone.
- Be direct and get more information
She advises to ask the people you think you’re neglecting whether they actually feel neglected. “My dear customer, do you feel neglected by me?” She says, think about how an outside observer would view the situation. If you conclude that you really aren’t doing enough, then come up with some solutions or compromises that balance everybody’s needs.
- Appreciate yourself and all that you do
Write a “self- gratitude” diary at the end of every day, noting at least three things you did that day that furthered your goals or helped someone you care about. At the end of the week, read what you’ve written. Guilt and perfectionism have a negative bias. They make you pay attention to what you’re not doing right. By writing down what you actually did, you can overcome this bias and force yourself to focus on your accomplishments.
- Think how you would you see things if the roles were reversed?
Would you think your customers, friends or partner wasn’t doing enough given all they had going on? We often find it easy to be compassionate and understanding with others but are too harsh on ourselves. By deliberately taking the other person’s perspective, you’ll likely see your situation in a more objective light
- Curb the “black and white” thinking
Are you thinking about the situation in all or- nothing terms? Do you think that if you’re not the perfect partner/daughter/parent you must be the worst one on the planet? Try to find the gray amid all that black and white. Consider other ways of seeing the situation. Try to judge your efforts in context, rather than always expecting perfection.
- Look for the emotions underneath the guilt
Perhaps there’s hormones talking. Or you’re just tired, so that’s why you’re feeling bad. Maybe you just had a bad day. Maybe there are other emotions you have that are deeper that you need to consider and work through.
- Decide how much you’re willing and able to do
At the end of the day, there are only so many hours and you have only so much energy. Only do what is most important.
- Realize it’s ok to take care of your own needs
And sometimes sleep or alone time, even a few minutes a day, is what you need. Take it!
Now, I’d love to hear from you…
Which one suggestion can you put into practice to experience more balance in your life?
Share as much detail as you’d like in your comment. Lots of us entrepreneurs turn to each other for support, insight and inspiration, and your story may help someone else have a meaningful breakthrough.