Bad Thought: I feel guilty when I take time away from my child.
I’ve worked with many parents who feel guilty when, to nurture themselves, they take time away from their kids. If that’s your dilemma, it may be reassuring for you to know that guilt (in normal people who have consciences) often occurs not because you’ve done something wrong, but because you’ve simply prioritized one value over another seemingly competing one. For example, you may insult a colleague because you value honesty and then feel guilty when you realize you weren’t kind.
You feel bad because you realize that you didn’t do right by one of these 2 values: honesty and kindness. You weren’t intending to be mean, but you felt honesty was best in the moment. With respect to the parent-child issue, you want to be a conscientious parent, but also have an aspect of your life that is your own, separate from your child. You may both want to help your child feel happy, but also want her to learn to create her own happiness. Your thoughts present in your mind as buts (i.e., I want to nurture my child, but I need time to myself; I want my child to be happy, but she needs to learn to create it for herself).
A great solution to this sort of cognitive dissonance is to mentally change but to and: I want to be honest, and I want to be kind. I want to nurture my child, and I need time to myself. This word substitution alone can relax guilt enough for you to allow yourself to satisfy both of your values. Can you be a conscientious parent and take time for yourself? Of course. Can you foster your child’s happiness and expect her to take age-appropriate responsibility for her own life? The use of and encourages you to find ways to do both.
You're reading the Bad Thoughts Blog, which maintains that feeling good is as simple as thinking a better thought. I'm Debbie Covino, hypnotherapist, coach, and creator of the Master Your Own Mind self-hypnosis audio program and the All Day Hypnosis audio courses, available at https://www.hypnotic-wellbeing.com/digital-audio-programs
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