Stop the “Shoulds” and Embrace Your Needs

Stop the “Shoulds” and Embrace Your Needs

Make peace with the fact that you can’t control everything — and do your best with everything you can.


As a mom, you might feel like you’re naturally wired to be a caretaker and nurturer, but that never means that you should put your own needs last. So, whenever you do something for yourself (saying “no,” reading a book, having a facial) you may experience a little voice in your head telling you that you should be doing something else.

Why “Should” You?
It’s important to examine those “shoulds.” Do they line up with the values you truly believe in, or are they the beliefs of others? For instance, is it actually your mom’s belief that your children watch too much television? Is it your friend’s belief that you ought to be a stay-at home mom? Or are these beliefs yours?

Feeling guilty provides a clue that you need to take a look at what’s going on and separate what’s important and what’s not. By being sure of your values, you will know what is important to you, and it will be easier to make decisions based on what you believe in. We all have core values that are meaningful and personal — it’s why we do what we do. It’s good to take stock from time to time. Use these five guiding ideas to put things in perspective:

  1. Ask yourself what’s important to you in your life now.
  2. Create a plan with designated slots for all your important activities, including breaks. Because they’re all included, you won’t need to worry about what you’re doing, when you’re not doing it or how you’ll fit it in.
  3. Maintaining a balanced life doesn’t mean having equal time for everything. Work usually takes the bulk of your time, but make sure to include the right amount of time for the family, too.
  4. Don’t overcompensate with your children because you feel guilty about being a working mother. It’s not good for them — or you.
  5. Look at how much your family gains by what you do. Know that, in the end, you’re a role model for them.
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Ditch It
In your diary, make a list of the things you feel indulgent about and ask yourself how you can forgive yourself and let go. Compare your list with your values to give yourself some perspective. Think about your guilt and explore what it’s really about.

Remember that just because you feel guilty, it doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong. Commit yourself to start thinking “What now?” instead of “I should have.” This will stop you agonizing over what you could have done differently and help you to focus on the future.

Talk to a Friend
Their perspective might help to change your perception of the situation.

Put up a list of your priorities, and the next time you get that overindulgent feeling, check your list. If it doesn’t make the top three, stop worrying about it! Once you start getting into the thought that you are still a person — not just a mom, wife or daughter — you’ll feel the stress lift away from your shoulders.

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