In my calling to support women to discover who they are beyond mom, one of the primary things I see that gets in the way of their progress is a lack of self-worth.
How did we get this way?
Women are natural caregivers, and societal norms have reinforced this beautiful trait by telling us that as moms, our role is to pour everything into our families to ensure that they are well taken care of, and to prepare our kids to leave the nest. And we do so willingly. Although it can be really hard work to raise a family, most women derive a great sense of purpose in doing so. There is something very gratifying about playing such a pivotal role in raising great humans that no amount of dirty diapers, teenage angst or ACT prep can undermine.
In fact, we are so vested and dedicated to our role that we tend to push our own dreams, desires and sense of self to the side. Our sense of identity becomes ‘mom’. And honestly, as busy moms, who has the time or the bandwidth to take time out for what WE want? Or spend time figuring out what WE need?
Until that magical time when your hard work comes to fruition and your kids in their growing sense of independence need you less and less.
And you are left looking at yourself in the mirror wondering who you are beyond being a mom.
This is where my work comes in. The women I meet in this place face so many inner demons as they adopt this new role. They wonder who they are. What they are good at. What they want to do next. Where to start. Many of them suffer from a devalued sense of self-worth – they have been identified as mom for so long, doing for and taking care of others – that they don’t know how to shift the focus to themselves. It feels uncomfortable and wrong. It goes against everything they have known for the prior 20+ years.
It can be overwhelming.
I have been there. Rearranging your life to fulfill you is incredibly difficult at the moment. And when we get on the other side of that obstacle, it is also incredibly heartbreaking to acknowledge how long we denied ourselves happiness and a richly fulfilling life experience. So how do you begin to break through the negative self-talk and low self-esteem? How do you start to change the monologue that tells you you’re not good enough, or that you’ll probably screw it up anyway?
When I work with moms, we spend a lot of time identifying and dismantling these saboteurs. It does take time and someone to be there with you to shine a light on those times that you are undermining yourself.
But there are some ways you can start to work on this today. Right now. One of the most simple, effective ways is by practicing gratitude.
And I want to make a special note of the word ‘practice’. This takes intention, every single day. Set aside the time you need to do this – whether it’s when you journal in the morning, or before you go to bed each night.
There are so many benefits of practicing gratitude! Among them -
A recent study shows that this practice helps you sleep better, relieve stress and improve relationships.
Another shows that it reduces the debilitating comparison to others rather than feel resentful or envious of others success, gratitude helps you see all the good in your life, allowing you to simply be happy for them. (Journal of Applied Sport Psychology 2014)
Practicing gratitude puts you at a lower risk of depression according to a study conducted by researchers in Rome.
Ready to give it a try?
If you are a mom who is struggling to figure out what’s next, or where to start, start here:
Appreciate Yourself – look in a mirror and say 5 good things about yourself. I am beautiful, loyal, disciplined, organized, kind, loving etc. Hint: if it’s tough for you to come up with something, ask someone you love and trust to tell you the good they see in you.
Keep a gratitude journal or list this helps you focus on good – what’s present, not what’s lacking. What we focus on expands. This is why we celebrate Magenta Moment Mondays in our Facebook Group to celebrate those small moments that bring you joy rather than let them slip away unnoticed.
Make an effort to thank people who have served you – whether it’s the barista at Starbucks or one of your best friends who has lifted you up when you needed it. Don’t just say it – feel it. Sometimes it helps to put your hand on your heart while you’re saying it to remind yourself to be present and connected. Authentically acknowledging them will not only make them feel good, it will make you feel good as well, knowing that you’ve made a difference in someone else’s life.
Donate your time, talent or treasure to a cause you care about. This is one of the best ways I know how to get really clear on all the gifts you have in your life - helping others who are not so fortunate.
Yes, this can be hard work. And it takes patience, self-compassion and commitment. But as someone who has been through this sometimes painful yet unbelievably rewarding journey, I can tell you that as hard as it was, I would happily do it all again because my life today is so much better than I could have ever imagined.
And that’s what I want for every woman out there who is ready to claim a life she loves.
It’s never too late to begin to live a life of true purpose and intention. If you enjoyed this blog and want to take things even further, or simply would like to chat about what the future will look like for you, I am happy to help!