Mommy Guilt & Woman Shame

“….the father represents the outer world point of view, the collective ideal that pressures women to be wilted rather than wildish. Even so, there is no shame and blame if you have given away the flowering boughs [psychic innocence]. Yes, you have suffered for it, no doubt. And you may have given it away for years, even for decades. But there is hope.”

Mommy guilt is the uneasy, doubtful, sorrowful feeling you get for not doing something you’ve been told you ‘should’ or for doing something you think you shouldn’t have done. This guilt causes many mothers to: second guess parenting decisions, over perform or over give in the parenting dynamic sacrificing themselves without expectations or out of fear, not ask for help, feel crappy when we don’t share EVERYTHING! – Hide and have your snack mommas!, never invest in ourselves but instead on the children only, withhold/negate your dreams and goals to uplift the children in their activities, etc., and feel like you shouldn’t feel or act a certain way about an issue or topic related to your child based on social pressures – not your values. These are just a few that I’ve experienced. How does mommy guilt affect you? (more on this later)

Woman shame is the feeling that something is wrong with you because of something that has been done to you or you’ve done.  Shame causes women to hold on to secrets that are insidious to their well-being. As a result of these actions woman tends to feel like there is something wrong with her – as if she is not worthy of happiness, freedom, peace or any of her desires. Woman shame is closely related to mommy guilt because we live in a society that shames women for not expressing ourselves in ways that others prescribe. If we do something outside of the norm we feel guilty and are shamed for it – making us feel the need to hide. From our youth girls are taught that the “correct” way to be is quiet, unassuming, not desiring of much, modest, to muffle the emotions, etc. Of course we carry this into adulthood – any infraction we keep secret for fear that people will see us as unworthy or worse – not see us at all. This spills over into the way we perceive mothers and carry out our mothering. This shame causes us to: hide our truth, Not speak our true desires and interests let alone live them, incessantly compare our lives to other’s with disdain – staggering our own growth, chase perfectionism, feel unworthy of love and support thereby affecting our receipt of love and support, expect the ‘good’ child and feel overwhelmed when the child is not and so much more. Woman shame is the feeling that something is wrong with you because of something that has been done to you or that you’ve done.  Shame causes women to hold on to secrets that are insidious to their psychic, emotional and spiritual well-being. Many women who harbor shame are afraid someone will find out what has been done and excommunicate her from her community or label her as a bad woman or mother.  As a result women tend to feel like there is something wrong with her – as if she is not worthy of happiness, freedom, peace or any of her desires. Woman shame is closely related to mommy guilt because we live in a society that shames women for not expressing ourselves in ways that others prescribe. If we do something outside of the norm we feel guilty and are shamed for it – making us feel the need to hide. From our youth girls are taught that the “correct” way to be is quiet, unassuming, not desiring of much, modest, to muffle the emotions, etc. Of course we carry this into adulthood – any infraction we keep secret for fear that people will see us as unworthy or worse – not see us at all. This spills over into the way we perceive mothers and carry out our mothering. This shame causes us to: hide our truth, Not speak our true desires and interests let alone live them, incessantly compare our lives to others with disdain – staggering our own growth, chase perfectionism, feel unworthy of love and support thereby affecting our receipt of love and support, expect the ‘good’ child and feel overwhelmed when our children don’t fit into societal and familial boxes and so much more.

Guilt and shame causes a woman to harbor confusion and lack of self-trust. In confusion, clear values and ideas can not thrive because decisions are based on fear and the desire to please others. Living by values that come from a deep inner guide solidifies the confidence, resilience, trust, self-respect, and authenticity which with one lives their lives. After all, these are the very skills we often try to build within our children. I posit that in order to build those in our children we have to unearth what has caused us to block a healthy relationship with these within ourselves. Guilt and shame can not survive in authenticity and trust.

Moreover, women get many mixed signals from society that further exacerbates guilt and shame. For example, women may hear these conflicting ideas – “A woman that stays at home doesn’t contribute to the household.” and “A working woman can’t take care of her household.” Imagine the guilt and shame of women who may not keep up in either area. The authenticity and trust we build internally will cause us to speak truthfully about our ideas and try methods that suit our needs without feeling like a failure or unequipped. Some women may stay at home and know that this is an unpaid worthy position negotiating the ability to still have assistance. A working woman will budget for cleaners to come to her home a few times per month or order a meal prep service without feeling insufficient. She will determine if these work for her and shift if she needs to. Or a woman may shamelessly and unapologetically take on the task of being a housewife or working mother as it is. The point is that whatever the decision – it is yours for you to own and ponder and shift as you see fit. Our decisions should negate the guilt and shame that causes us to become paralyzed in our decision-making by either causing us to concede without thought to ideas and actions that do not serve us or causes us to NOT take action at all.
 

It is time for us to unpack these expectations and stories that cause so many women to live in guilt and shame so that each woman can live authentically.  It is time for women to set their own blueprint for mothering. It is time to release shame ridden opinions and child rearing practices. 

ACTIVITY: SPEAK YOUR TRUTH TO POWER RELEASING GUILT/SHAME

Take a sheet of paper. On the left side of a sheet of paper write down a few things you may be feeling guilty or shameful about. Remember guilt is how you feel about something you did whereas shame is how you feel about yourself based on something you did or someone did to you. Write these out. For example you may put – I yelled at my child for ‘x’, I got jealous toward my friend for ‘y’, etc. Whatever it is for you – be truthful about it. It is good to write it out because guilt and shame lives in the shadows and in order to deal with them you have to call them out. Only do a few the first time 3-5 perhaps. On the right side of the paper, express WHY you feel the way you do. Did you yell because you were tired, feeling overwhelmed, didn’t know any other way to express yourself. Did you feel the tinge of jealousy because you aren’t in the place you desire to be or feel like you need to be in competition with all your female friends? You may need to sit with this a while. Since guilt and shame rides off of an internalized social construct around how we should conduct ourselves this will have to be unraveled to become more intentional and authentic about our responses.

Now I want you to place your hand over your heart and speak to your body: “shame and guilt does not live here. I feel the full range of my emotions and know what I desire. I speak of the shameful to release myself from mine and other’s judgments. ” 

Continue to release yourself. To work closely with me sign up for my six week, self-paced masterclass “Evolve the Inner Mother” where women gain the foundation to unearthing their authentic selves and discover a blueprint for evolving. This life changing class will shift you. Sign up at momevolve.setmore.com – for inquiries write momevolve@gmail.com

Self-care is often shamed, especially for mothers but mommy evolve is unpacking this and calling you to join my mommy mini retreats. Step outside of your duties and jump off your weekend in fun, play and release. Play games, drink wine, get a massage or yoni steam, and so much more. Save the date – August 17th. More to come soon! Spaces are limited. 

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