Are we programmed for guilt?

Well, it appears that moms may be programmed to feel guilt. From a very young age, women are bombarded with messages that tell us we’re supposed to be perfect.  Many of our magazines, sitcoms, and other media propagate this unrealistic standard for women to live by. We internalize these messages and those internal voices in turn create our programming. These messages cause us to create unrealistic standards for ourselves and thus we want to be everything to everyone.

For example, we beat ourselves up for not making it to the mother’s day breakfast in our son’s kindergarten class because we had to go to work.  But, we also beat ourselves up when we do go because we didn’t bring home baked cupcakes like some of the “other moms”.  This is one of those “damned if we do and damned if we don’t” scenarios.

Where does the guilt come from?

All working moms have “Mommy Guilt” stories. We cringe when we remember the time we blanked during a dance recital, faked our way through a meeting after staying up all night with a sick baby or slid into our exam rooms as unobtrusively as possible after arriving late to work—again—because we couldn’t help locate the lost homework assignment.

Being a mom is hard work but it’s very important work and feeling guilty about missed opportunities is normal.  According to Dr. Dana Dorfman, “A person without guilt is a sociopath.”  Meaning – Feeling guilty only indicates that you’re a normal human being. That is why it’s important to acknowledge your guilt is real, and that it will surface many times over your lifetime, but don’t let it trap you in a negative cycle of thoughts.

OK great! So what do I do?

Chose to validate and respect the difficulty and significance of being a mother and a doctor combined with the complexity of being a living, breathing, imperfect person.  You will make mistakes, you will mess up, but it’s OK!  It’s even OK to feel guilty about it.  After all, you don’t have a cape – you’re only human.

Remember that lifetimes aren’t made up of one day or one bad choice, or one argument. A bad day doesn’t equal a bad life.  Childhoods are made of parents trying their best, with love and attention, and apologies, and examples.  They’re also made up of little kids learning, and growing, and making their own mistakes.  If you missed it today, it’s ok; there’s always tomorrow.

Here’s a fun video about how 2 moms deal with guilt! Enjoy!

 

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