Monday, August 22, 2016

Why I put my oxygen mask on first

A few weeks ago I got a call from a fox news writer asking me to provide some insights for an article on "7 things moms need to stop feeling guilty about."  Here's the list of things she asked me if I had any thoughts on:

  • Working
  • Breastfeeding
  • Yelling
  • Not playing enough with your kids
  • Using digital devices as a babysitter
  • Feeding kids not-so-healthy food
  • Date nights and "me-time"
YES! Every single one on that list! 

Every single one of these topics have been sources of guilt for me personally and for so many moms I know. I learned over time that there is no such thing as "perfect parenting." For me, the key to being the best parent I can be is to let go of the guilt that makes it so much harder! I just do my best each and every day.

As a working mom I felt guilty when I missed out on school events and milestones but a huge part of my guilt came from the fact that I "liked" working. I admit it, although I missed my children, I enjoyed going to my job.  I used to think that made me a terrible mother. The reality is, I was a better mom to my kids when I was happy, feeling fulfilled, challenged and accomplished with things outside of the house. I will never forget the very first day I dropped my daughter off at day care at the age of 4 months I met another mom who said to me, "I did not get my MBA to sit on the floor and finger-paint all day, that's what school is for." I was feeling awful and overwhelmed at the idea of leaving my baby at day care for the first time, but that mom's comments took a huge weight off my shoulder that day. 

Another big topic on that list is breastfeeding. For me, it was a disaster! Chapter "Bigger is not always better" of my book goes into all the excruciating details of my failed attempts at nursing. It wasn't pretty, but my kids came out ok! As much as I wanted to breastfeed both of my children, I managed a few weeks each and then switched to formula. It was not how I wanted it to go, but once I accepted it I was much more relaxed and better able to care for my children without feeling so defeated and broken. 

As far as the other topics on this list, like yelling, not-so-healthy foods, screen time ect... I learned to do the best I can with what I have. Every day is different. Balance is key. Some days things go really well and other days not so much. Recognizing moments of imperfection and being able to accept and forgive myself helps me be a better parent. I am able to take a closer look more objectively at situations and seek to understand how I can do better next time. The guilt and shame does not help me improve, only acceptance and striving to do better does. In order to raise happy, healthy and confident kids, I needed to start with me. Letting go of the unnecessary guilt over being human, for me is like the saying, "put my oxygen mask on first." This way I am able to handle the stressors of parenting, react less, make good choices more often and model the type of confidence, self-care and self-compassion I want for my children.

Click here for the fox news article with lots of great info! Click here for more info to get your copy of "Lose That Mommy Guilt" today. If you are interested in coaching or are in NJ looking for a counselor, feel free to reach out today! 

Monday, August 1, 2016

What's your Mindset?

So what's your mindset? How would you answer that question?  My 8 year old brought home this picture of a lesson about mindset in grammar school last year: 
The book "Mindset, The New Psychology of Success" by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck is one of my favorite's which I often recommend to clients who are feeling stuck in a negative thinking pattern.  Dr. Dweck teaches readers that people who have a fixed mindset believe that qualities and talents can't change, therefore limiting motivation to improve or grow. Talent is considered to be something someone has or does not have. People with a fixed mindset tend to be more judgmental and negative.
Growth mindset is the belief that basic abilities can be learned. People with a growth mindset are motivated and more optimistic. This mindset fosters a love for learning and allows people to increase feelings of control over success in life. 

In a recent article for Bustle I was asked to provide some insights for an article "Unhealthy Mindsets Everyone Should Get Rid of for a Better Outlook on Life".
The article lists unhealthy mindsets that contribute to negative feelings and self doubt from myself and other therapists and health care providers. They are:
  • Believing you're a victim
  • Believing you're not worthy
  • Seeing an Obstacle rather than opportunity
  • Believing everything is permanent
  • Thinking you will never find love
  • Being afraid you will get sick
  • Believing in absolutes
  • Being afraid of the doctor
  • Feeling shaped by your past
  • Believing you can't do something
  • Believing life is a struggle
Go HERE to check out the full article.

So much of what we believe becomes our reality. When we have a negative belief pattern we then find ourselves then acting in a way that perpetuates the beliefs we have about ourselves. 
Being able to check in with yourself and really identify what type of mindset is driving your actions can be a first step to making positive change in your life. 

An amazing example of how mindset affects our lives comes from researcher Kelly McGonigal on stress. In this video she describes how people who believe, "stress is harmful" had more of a negative health affect than stress by itself. She reports that if we change our relationship with stress itself we can actually reduce the negative affects stress has on our lives. 

So what's your mindset?

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