Guilt, worry and regret are common feelings for executive moms. They can motivate you into action and they can keep you from achieving personal and professional goals. Staying mindful of your feelings and emotions, when and where they show up, and most importantly how they influence your actions is important to achieving greater work-life balance.
Guilt–If you’re a professional working woman chances are, at least once a day you feel guilty about something you’ve said or didn’t say or something you did or didn’t do. There’s even a term for it, “mommy guilt”. Mommy guilt, if allowed to go unchecked can lead to inequalities in household chores and co-parenting responsibilities amongst couples. For some moms guilt can translate into actions like overspending on a child to make up for working long hours or having to travel for business. It can also lead to depression, psychologists say.
If guilt is keeping you from getting the help you need or eating up the little time you have for yourself, here are two ways to keep mommy guilt in check:
- Focus on the blessing. Focusing on the blessings helps you to see the benefits (for everyone) of the tough choices you have to make as a working mom.
- Acknowledge what you’re doing right. Take a moment at the end of each day to recognize all the good you’ve done and said, from the simplest to the most complex. Incorporating this practice into your life will help to dismiss the inner-critic. And the biggest benefit of all? You’ll begin to give yourself permission to take care of you.
Worry–Is my child eating enough green leafy vegetables? Can I afford childcare or to send my child to college? What will happen if I get the promotion, what if I don’t? Moms worry about everything from the silly to the serious, which can cause stress in the body and lead to disease.
Worrying also robs you of power, happiness and time. It takes you out of the present moment and into some far off place where nothing ever works out for you—the land of fear and doubt.
You and I know that you’re far too busy to stay stuck in a place that’s not serving you. The next time you notice yourself worrying, consider taking one of the following actions:
- Shout, “STOP IT!” to yourself then think of productive solutions to the worry.
- Carry around in your purse or on your smart phone, a positive affirmation. When you catch yourself worrying read the affirmation several times.
- Plan a worry time. Choose a set day and time to worry. Set a timer and give yourself between 10 and 20 minutes to go through your list of worries, fears and doubts. Don’t go pass your allotted time. When you’re done, enjoy the rest of your day.
Regret–How many times have you said, “I wish I’d gone ahead and done that?” or “If only I’d said what I really wanted to?” Life’s uncertainty makes regret a powerful emotion. For a lot of working moms the fear of future regrets causes us to limit ourselves.
Year after year wants and needs end up on the back burner, authentic communication is stifled in favor of keeping the peace and living up to other people’s expectations becomes the norm. Often, for a lot of moms, this is the result of focusing on what could go wrong—not wanting to screw things up, instead of on the potential positives of change or a new endeavor.
Here are a couple questions to ask yourself to help you get from fear into possibility:
- “What opportunities could come out of this change for me/family/career?”
- “What if my next move, whatever I choose, is precisely the right one?”
- “How does choosing inaction/not changing serve me?”
Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about how to improve your work-life balance.
Akanke Adefunmi helps professional women shift from stress to success in their work-family-personal life. You are always invited to attend one of her free work-family-self balance webinars or join her monthly Working Moms Virtual Retreat. Follow her on Twitter, @Akanke_Adefunmi, Like her Facebook page, facebook.com/claimyourshero