Creative Child

Overcoming Mom Guilt

by Rebecca Eanes


How to Overcome Guilt

Determine what your guilt is telling you. Is the guilt attached to a judgment of yourself or to someone else’s judgment of you? Is it appropriate? Is there a need for you to make amends or a behavior change?

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If the answer is yes, the guilt is appropriate and there is need for action, turn your guilt into fuel for making the change happen. Here are the steps for releasing appropriate guilt:

  1. Apologize to whomever you hurt.
  2. Think about why you behaved in such a way that caused another harm or didn’t align with your values. Was a personal boundary crossed? Do you need stronger boundaries, then? Are your needs not being met? When you get to the root of what caused our behavior, you can determine how to correct it.
  3. Create a plan of action that leads to a positive goal. Focus on achieving what you want rather than stopping what you don’t want. For example, rather than making a goal “not to yell,” instead make a goal to “take mindful breaths when anger arises.” Working toward a positive goal is often more fruitful than fighting against a negative behavior.

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If the answer is no, and the guilt is not appropriate and is arising from someone else’s judgment of you, then understand that this is not your burden to carry and let it go. In cognitive theory, thoughts cause emotions, so if you change your thoughts, your emotions change as well. By intentionally thinking positive, self-compassionate thoughts, you will move out of guilt and into positive emotions. So, instead of “I should go back to work and contribute more to my family” or “I should quit my job and stay home with my baby,” think “I’m doing the best I can today, and we are doing just fine.”

“Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.” – Aldous Huxley

Rebecca Eanes, is the founder of and creator of Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond. She is the bestselling author of 3 books. Her newest book,Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, is more than a parenting book, it's a guide to human connection. She has also written The Newbie's Guide to Positive Parentingand co-authored the book, Positive Parenting in Action: The How-To Guide to Putting Positive Parenting Principles in Action in Early ChildhoodShe is the grateful mother to 2 boys.


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