In the world of personal development where we focus on self-awareness and self-actualization there is a lot of talk about values.
Values dictate the choices you make and determine the direction that your life takes. Fact.
Your values will influence your decisions related to your relationships, career, and other activities you engage in. Fact.
Values therefore determine the way you choose to mother and the way you choose to define your family life. Fact.
Simple and straightforward, right?
Modern living – its pace and, related, the influence of consumerism and its marketing machine – invites us to live unconsciously. And as we go about making unconscious decisions, without much sense of choice, we may find ourselves on a hamster wheel, on autopilot.
The choices behind the way we use our time and energy also are often determined unconsciously.
In this piece, I want to examine two reasons that explain why living in alignment with our values isn’t so simple and straightforward AND how we can make it easier.
Reason #1. Covering the circumstantial basics…
Some of us feel that not being able to live in alignment with what is most important to us is about a lack of choice. And that this lack of choice is a consequence of circumstance.
We may feel like we need to do something that feels out of synch with our values because finances dictate, for instance.
I hear you.
I know many mothers who work because if they didn’t, the rent wouldn’t get paid, or food wouldn’t get on the table.
This too is an unarguable fact for them.
A fact that may leave them feeling trapped.
But are we really trapped?
Do we really need to make sure the rent is paid or food gets on the table?
I suppose if we really didn’t care, we could walk away from it all. I mean, if we are truly honest, there is a choice to be made. A choice to give a shit or not give a shit. Right?
And along with this choice is an invitation to shift perspectives.
Stay with me for a moment…
Imagine that your working and paying your bills was not an obligation, but rather, a choice. A choice to be responsible. A choice to provide your family with its basic needs. A choice to honour your capacity to provide and to honour your children’s needs.
This slight mind shift from obligation to choice is a powerful one that puts you back in the drivers’ seat. Back in a place where your choice to provide for your family’s basic needs reflects your valuing these needs above all else.
It is what you choose to do because you know what is most important for you to do right now.
Effectively, this takes you out of the trap and invites you to step into your power as a responsible human being.
If this resonates then please join me in my Getting Real About Motherhood Guided Experience I will walk you through this powerful obligation (among others) towards some powerful mind shifts that will help make motherhood feel easier…
Reason #2. Being a good girl and a good mother. It’s complicated.
So what’s the second reason why living in alignment with our values doesn’t feel as easy as it could be.
Well, our relationship with values is complicated for three reasons: 1) the way we are socialized as girls, 2) the related social expectations placed upon modern mothers and 3) the consequent busy-ness of our motherhood experience. Together, these factors result in a lot of unconscious choice-making and doing.
Without the time, space or support to reflect on what we value truly, madly, deeply as women who are ready to live consciously, we may end up unconsciously adopting the values of our family of origin or the dominant values of society.
According to Jim Taylor, in all likelihood, the values that you internalized as a child remain with you in some shape or form through adulthood. To a certain degree, these externally defined values may also have created a life that is carrying you down a path that is not the direction you want to go at this point in your life. A path which, for too many mothers, is defined by stress and overwhelm, disconnection and exhaustion.
In her book, The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence, Rachel Simmons talks about how our culture teaches girls to be “good” – unerringly nice, polite, modest, and selfless. She says this culture encourages girls to embrace a version of selfhood that sharply curtails their power and potential, diminishing girls’ authenticity and personal authority.
In Chapter 6: My Daughter, Myself, she talks about how Good Moms inadvertently end up raising Good Girls and how all this “good” conditioning is a cage for the modern day Mom, or “new momism”.
“Mothers are under increasing “surveillance” by a culture bent on a “new momism”: pressure on a woman to, among other things, “devote her entire physical, psychological, emotional, and intellectual being, 24/7, to her children,” Through a tidal wave of parenting books, politicized research, and media images, the new momism defines impossible standards of who is “good” and punishing terms for who is “bad”, policing mothers into guilty exhaustion.”
But, what exactly does this new momism define as “good”? What are we trying to live up to?
Good mothers keep homes neat.
Good mothers cook healthy meals.
Good mothers keep conflict at bay.
Good mothers keep the peace.
Good mothers play with their kids.
Good mothers are good wives.
This is the beginning of what could evolve into a very exhaustive list of nasty caging shoulds.
I should do this.
I should behave like this.
I should appear like that.
But as a mother these shoulds go beyond the “I” and extend onto our families and environments…
My kids should do this.
My kids should like that.
My husband shouldn’t do that.
My husband should do this.
My house should look like this.
This meal should’ve tasted different.
Should. Should. Should.
Barf. Barf. Barf.
Part of my job as a Life Coach and advocate for mothers is to help mothers unravel the myth that there is one perfect way to be a mother. Because there isn’t!!
The only perfect way to mother is the way that feels good and fulfilling and right to you. The way that supports your relationship with yourSELF.
Simply put, a good mother has a loving relationship with herSELF.
So, instead of unconsciously succumbing to the nasty new momism that Rachel Simmons talks about, I invite you to get to know yourSELF by unearthing values that are born from your own internal wisdom.
Self-owned values that guide shoulds help us to feel good about ourselves and our choices.
A first step here is shedding the light on the shoulds that guide our actions…because the first step to change is awareness.
With the sun shining down on your shoulds, the nasty ones are more likely to lose their power over you. (Like a vampire exposed to daylight).
If this resonates then please join my FREE Getting Real About Motherhood Guided Experience where I will walk you through an exercise that helps you to bring your nasty externally-driven shoulds to light. And in so doing, create space to design an easier and more authentic motherhood experience that comes from within.
With your shoulds in the light of your consciousness, you can see how they live in your reactions to life’s little challenges. And with this awareness, life will feel easier!
P.S. If you appreciate or feel the need to dive deeper into your motherhood experience as a means of coming out stronger, more authentic and confident, then consider joining In Essence Collective – a membership coaching community designed to support mothers committed to growing into themSELVES with clarity, calm and confidence. You can get on the waiting list by clicking here.
P.P.S. Wanna help other Mamas out of this nasty newmomism cage, spread the word by clicking on the image above or tweeting it out with the tweets below!