I’ve been in therapy for quite a few years now and one concept I’ve heard over and over again when it comes to my catastrophic, paranoid, and anxious thoughts is “You need to reframe your way of thinking.” Reframing is a buzzword in the psychological world. Reframing in it’s most basic form, is taking a situation and reframing it in your mind in a more positive or realistic light. Essentially it’s changing the way you approach a circumstance and thereby changing the circumstance itself.
I happen to love reframing. It’s a tool I’ve used for so long now that it comes naturally to me. Even when it’s done in a way that’s less sincere, just the act of taking and reframing your thought in general creates a distance between you and the negative thought.
Today I was to talk to you guys about reframing for one of my favorite groups of people-moms. Whether you became a mom through adoption, foster care, biology…there’s a very high chance you’ve felt the dreaded “mom guilt.” (If you haven’t, this probably isn’t something you need to read…and teach me your ways, please.).
I spent a good portion of this past year battling my initial feelings of failure and guilt and working to reframe my thoughts and feelings to be more positive about the bumps in the road we met along the parenting way. By the time we hit December, I shared a post about Christmas morning and a rough time we had then. If you follow my Facebook, you may have seen it when I originally shared it but in case you didn’t, the story is pretty simple.
I got locked out of our church on Christmas morning.
You can see the full story here, but that’s the jist of it. Monkey had a rough time, we got locked out we walked home. End of story.
After talking about this, I had friends respond to me with “Wow, I am SO sorry!” and “You must feel terrible!” and I realized…I didn’t. When we first left the service, I felt embarrassed we had to leave and guilty I was peacing on Josh with the baby and the older girls, but by the time I had walked home-there was no guilt or shame left.
I’ve found a lot of moms I know get upset about situations that are out of their control or simply kids being kids. In that moment? I get it. It’s hard to wrap your head around little Susie biting some boy at the playground. What I want to offer you today is a simple tool, STAR, that is meant to help you reframe those hard to swallow moments and create a peace within you surrounding them.
STAR is the little acronym I came up with to help you remember these five steps a little easier. They work so well for me and I truly hope they work for you as well!
If you’re like me, Mamas, you spiral down the rabbit hole after an occurrence. My child refusing to drink their milk at dinner quickly becomes “My child is never going to willing drink milk and will have oseterporis as an adult and it’s AL MY FAULT.” First things first- STOP that thought RIGHT when they begin. It’s harder than it sounds, trust me I know, but try your very best to focus on that moment, that time, that situation sitting in front of you. Don’t think about the last time you had to leave the middle of a church service, don’t think about the next time you might have to leave the middle of a church service. Halt your thoughts and focus on right here and now.
Take A Step Back and Take a Breath.
Our word for the year is peace and this is one area I’m trying to become more peaceful in that helps reframing incredibly: Take a step back. Take a breath. When your child has made a mistake, when you have made a mistake, when your spouse has made a mistake…take a mental(or physical) step away from what is going wrong. The old ideal of taking ten seconds of breathing is great here. Stop the downward spiral and take a step away to recompose yourself. This helps get your emotions under control a bit and hopefully will help you abstain from only using your emotions to think.
This is the best step to apply logic to. I find assessing a situation can also help in preventing it from happening again. It also helps you understand what caused it in the first place and moving forward to reframe your mindset becomes easier for me when I have a logical assessment on the situation instead of simply my emotions surrounding it. For example, Christmas day: after assessing the situation, I was able to recognize that Monkey had half a dozen triggers happening that day, all of which would make controlling and communicating his emotions harder than usual.
After you have fully assessed the situation, you can finally reframe it! After recognizing what Monkey had thrived through earlier in that day, I began to feel pride in how hard he had worked than disappointment in us having to leave. I felt more comfortable with our choice to give him a break than trying to force him through it. I was happy he told me he wanted a break instead of having a meltdown in the middle of church. It’s all about perspective! Instead of feeling mom guilt, I felt mom pride! Once you can begin to reframe these moments, you can begin to change the entire way you look at your motherhood journey. It’s so much easier to find joy in motherhood when you’re not feeling guilt at every turn.
For a week, give this a try! Don’t allow yourself to wallow in the mom guilt but instead find a STAR and focus on the light that brings into your life! What else do you do to battle the mom guilt?