4 Ways You can Replace Self-Blame with Self-Care

4 Ways You can Replace Self-Blame with Self-Care

Resilience is the capacity to bounce back from a negative force. It’s your ability to adapt in a positive way to difficult situations. We are all wired for self-preservation. Our senses warn us of danger. Our bodies fight off disease and infection. And our beautiful minds protect us from harm with ways of coping such as denial and repression. Why then do we hear that internal “bad news” radio of ours, that seems to be stuck on the self-blame frequency? And what do we do about it to take better care of ourselves?

Blaming negative events on ourselves undermines our mental and physical health. It’s linked to depression, guilt, shame and increased cortisol production, which sends our stress levels through the roof. There has been a recent push to take greater self-care and build resiliency amongst our children and ourselves. But how do we do that? Here are four simple and practical ways to reverse the effects of self-blame.

  • Work, Work, Work, Work, Work – said by my girl, Rihanna. 

You know you are a damn good professional/stay at home parent. You also tell yourself you got there through hard work and dedication to your career. The only thing is, with excessive and compulsive working in today’s world, that’s never enough. This makes you believe you’re not enough. And you cut yourself no slack because of it. You need to take a break to decompress and do your job well. Being well rested and refilling your tank allows you to get the job done with passion and energy. Not burnout and frustration. Bottom line: take a break. What you’ve done is good enough for today. Read: You are good enough.

  • Practice gratitude.

This needs to be at the top of everyone’s to-do list for self-care. Choose a good time to reflect on the three things you are grateful for each day. This stops any self-blame right in its tracks. One way to bring this into your daily life is to write in a journal. There are apps that can help to find space for gratitude in busy days (such as Grid Diary). There is an abundance of research that has found gratitude has a remarkable capacity to rewire the brain in positive ways.

  • Blame yourself for the good too.

Be aware of your language as it has such a powerful effect on your life. Replace “I should” with “I could” and feel empowered by the choices you have over your own decisions. ‘Blame yourself’ for the good that happens in your life too, instead of only the bad. Caught yourself blaming your child’s anxiety on being a bad parent? Counteract that by ‘blaming’ her caring personality on your good genes.

  • Turn Down the volume on your “bad news” radio.

It can be difficult to take care of yourself and others around you when you have that negative self-talk or “bad news” radio playing in the background. So let’s settle this: you can lose your patience and still be a good parent and life partner, right? Right. Similarly, you can still have that bad news radio playing and do an amazing job of life at the same time. Your job is to turn down the volume, not to switch it off. We all struggle with our own inner voice sometimes. It’s normal and part of what makes us human. Learn how to turn down the volume: be mindful, be aware of your inner voice and let it know you are in charge. Tell if off out loud, “No thank you, inner voice. I have no space for you right now. I have more important things to focus on.”

Build resiliency by fighting off your own inner voice and become a more confident parent or caregiver right away! Self-blame can have huge effects on your mental and physical health. It can wreak havoc in your daily life making self-care almost impossible to do. Take care of you, not only for yourself, but for your family too.

[irp posts=”8603″ name=”5 Reasons Your Child Craves Boundaries (by Carla Buck)”]


About the Author: Carla Buck

Carla Buck, M.A., is a writer, therapist and global traveler having traveled to more than 80 countries worldwide. She has experience working with children and parents all over the world, having lived, worked and volunteered in Africa, North America, Europe and the Middle East. Carla is the creator of Warrior Brain, helping empower parents and care-givers with simple and practical ways to confidently raise secure and calm children.

You can visit her website and learn more at www.warriorbrain.com or join the Warrior Brain Parenting community on Facebook.

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The more your young one is able to verbalise what their anxiety feels like, the more capacity they will have to identify it, acknowledge it and act more deliberately in response to it. With this level of self-awareness comes an increased ability to manage the feeling when it happens, and less likelihood that the anxiety will hijack their behaviour. 

Now - let’s give their awareness some muscle. If they are experts at what their anxiety feels like, they are also experts at what it takes to be brave. They’ve felt anxiety and they’ve moved through it, maybe not every time - none of us do it every time - maybe not even most times, but enough times to know what it takes and how it feels when they do. Maybe it was that time they walked into school when everything in them was wanting to walk away. Maybe that time they went in for goal, or down the water slide, or did the presentation in front of the class. Maybe that time they spoke their own order at the restaurant, or did the driving test, or told you there would be alcohol at the party. Those times matter, because they show them they can move through anxiety towards brave. They might also taken for granted by your young one, or written off as not counting as brave - but they do count. They count for everything. They are evidence that they can do hard things, even when those things feel bigger than them. 

So let’s expand those times with them and for them. Let’s expand the wisdom that comes with that, and bring their brave into the light as well. ‘What helped you do that?’ ‘What was it like when you did?’ ‘I know everything in you wanted to walk away, but you didn’t. Being brave isn’t about doing things easily. It’s about doing those hard things even when they feel bigger than us. I see you doing that all the time. It doesn’t matter that you don’t do them every time -none of us are brave every time- but you have so much courage in you my love, even when anxiety is making you feel otherwise.’

Let them also know that you feel like this too sometimes. It will help them see that anxiety happens to all of us, and that even though it tells a deficiency story, it is just a story and one they can change the ending of.
During adolescence, our teens are more likely to pay attention to the positives of a situation over the negatives. This can be a great thing. The courage that comes from this will help them try new things, explore their independence, and learn the things they need to learn to be happy, healthy adults. But it can also land them in bucketloads of trouble. 

Here’s the thing. Our teens don’t want to do the wrong thing and they don’t want to go behind our backs, but they also don’t want to be controlled by us, or have any sense that we might be stifling their way towards independence. The cold truth of it all is that if they want something badly enough, and if they feel as though we are intruding or that we are making arbitrary decisions just because we can, or that we don’t get how important something is to them, they have the will, the smarts and the means to do it with or without or approval. 

So what do we do? Of course we don’t want to say ‘yes’ to everything, so our job becomes one of influence over control. To keep them as safe as we can, rather than saying ‘no’ (which they might ignore anyway) we want to engage their prefrontal cortex (thinking brain) so they can be more considered in their decision making. 

Our teens are very capable of making good decisions, but because the rational, logical, thinking prefrontal cortex won’t be fully online until their 20s (closer to 30 in boys), we need to wake it up and bring it to the decision party whenever we can. 

Do this by first softening the landing:
‘I can see how important this is for you. You really want to be with your friends. I absolutely get that.’
Then, gently bring that thinking brain to the table:
‘It sounds as though there’s so much to love in this for you. I don’t want to get in your way but I need to know you’ve thought about the risks and planned for them. What are some things that could go wrong?’
Then, we really make the prefrontal cortex kick up a gear by engaging its problem solving capacities:
‘What’s the plan if that happens.’
Remember, during adolescence we switch from managers to consultants. Assume a leadership presence, but in a way that is warm, loving, and collaborative.♥️
Big feelings and big behaviour are a call for us to come closer. They won’t always feel like that, but they are. Not ‘closer’ in an intrusive ‘I need you to stop this’ way, but closer in a ‘I’ve got you, I can handle all of you’ kind of way - no judgement, no need for you to be different - I’m just going to make space for this feeling to find its way through. 

Our kids and teens are no different to us. When we have feelings that fill us to overloaded, the last thing we need is someone telling us that it’s not the way to behave, or to calm down, or that we’re unbearable when we’re like this. Nup. What we need, and what they need, is a safe place to find our out breath, to let the energy connected to that feeling move through us and out of us so we can rest. 
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But how? First, don’t take big feelings personally. They aren’t a reflection on you, your parenting, or your child. Big feelings have wisdom contained in them about what’s needed more, or less, or what feels intolerable right now. Sometimes it might be as basic as a sleep or food. Maybe more power, influence, independence, or connection with you. Maybe there’s too much stress and it’s hitting their ceiling and ricocheting off their edges. Like all wisdom, it doesn’t always find a gentle way through. That’s okay, that will come. Our kids can’t learn to manage big feelings, or respect the wisdom embodied in those big feelings if they don’t have experience with big feelings. 
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We also need to make sure we are responding to them in the moment, not a fear or an inherited ‘should’ of our own. These are the messages we swallowed whole at some point - ‘happy kids should never get sad or angry’, ‘kids should always behave,’ ‘I should be able to protect my kids from feeling bad,’ ‘big feelings are bad feelings’, ‘bad behaviour means bad kids, which means bad parents.’ All these shoulds are feisty show ponies that assume more ‘rightness’ than they deserve. They are usually historic, and when we really examine them, they’re also irrelevant.
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Finally, try not to let the symptoms of big feelings disrupt the connection. Then, when calm comes, we will have the influence we need for the conversations that matter.
"Be patient. We don’t know what we want to do or who we want to be. That feels really bad sometimes. Just keep reminding us that it’s okay that we don’t have it all figured out yet, and maybe remind yourself sometimes too."
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 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #neuronurtured #braindevelopment #adolescence  #neurodevelopment #parentingteens
Would you be more likely to take advice from someone who listened to you first, or someone who insisted they knew best and worked hard to convince you? Our teens are just like us. If we want them to consider our advice and be open to our influence, making sure they feel heard is so important. Being right doesn't count for much at all if we aren't being heard.
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Hear what they think, what they want, why they think they're right, and why it’s important to them. Sometimes we'll want to change our mind, and sometimes we'll want to stand firm. When they feel fully heard, it’s more likely that they’ll be able to trust that our decisions or advice are given fully informed and with all of their needs considered. And we all need that.
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 #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #adolescence 
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