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.
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.
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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.