Emotional Wellness

5 Ways to Keep Perfectionism From Stealing Your Peace

Are you the type of mother who has taken every type of personality test, from Myers-Briggs (old-school) to the Enneagram, in an effort to understand aspects of yourself? Put reason behind the need to have your work, looks, environment, and even Motherhood, look a certain way in order to feel good about your daily effort?

A recent poll via our show’s Instagram page revealed that 100% of voters struggle with perfectionism. And the belief that they deserve rest.

Perfectionism, as defined by Dictionary.com, is “the refusal to accept any standard short of perfection (free from flaw or defect).” GoodTherapy.org defines it as “the need to be or appear perfect.” Living in a society that puts pressure on people to constantly be on display via social media feeds only heightens fears of inadequacy leading them to set goals or desires that are not realistic. While I am not an advocate for living a life without moral standards or values, it’s important we as mothers learn to establish realistic beliefs. That we stop grinding at our gifts to the point where we’re worn out, void of good health, and completely miserable- especially because life is happening (global pandemic?) or results don’t look like the next person’s social media feed.

As mother’s navigating the millennial gen experience, the need to feel like we’ve “got it all together-” whether it’s rushing to “snapback” to our pre-pregnancy bodies or constantly picking at the good things we’ve cultivated, getting stuck in the loop of perfectionism can keep us from experiencing personal growth and development.

Trying to live under the weight of fear and the unrealistic expectations perfectionism drives, especially amidst a global pandemic, will only serve to strain your coping self.

As a 6th house Capricorn, I know firsthand the inner pull to constantly work, sometimes to the point of heavy self-neglect, and in December of 2019, a major toothache set the stage for reevaluation. During 2020, I accepted the spiritual task of practicing rest- of accepting play and leisure as rewards for balance.

If you are struggling to integrate satisfaction for your efforts and make more progress, here are five ways you can keep perfectionism from stealing your peace.

Image: Tweet from @LauraEustache
  1. Operate within your given boundaries: Evaluate your daily structure and environment. Accept that what you see on someone else’s social media feed might be drastically different from what you have to work with, and remember, that’s okay! Don’t have the latest camera or a certain number of hours to give to social media? Treasure what you do have and make it work.
  2. Celebrate the small, tactile wins: What is it that you’ve already done? How did the experience of creating make you feel? What obstacles did you overcome? What aspects of your motherhood have you mastered that were tripping you up before? Acknowledge the above by first practicing gratitude- especially during moments when you’re railing against energies of doubt and self-sabotage. Then celebrate with some extra sleep, 30-60 mins a week of your favorite Netflix binge or a new book.
  3. Don’t base productivity on applause : I know we live in virtual worlds where feedback via likes and engagement can translate into real-life judgment on whether or not you’re productive enough. However, try your best to remember whether those outward applauds come in or not, your growth and ability to try new things is what matters at the end of the day. And, that you don’t burnout trying to go “ham.”
  4. Remember your Motherhood: Where you are on your post partum journey matters and you have to give yourself grace. Are you recovering from trauma? Are you working through a challenging stage of parenting? Are the dynamics of your family life changing, period? Everything you do beyond taking care of your family is a bonus. Whether it’s working full-time or creating side hustles or a combination of both to chase those God-given dreams, everything outside of grounding your family is a bonus. Don’t let anyone or any systemic structures rob you of the beauty behind that purpose.
  5. Update your to-do lists/vision boards: When we create plans, the vision can seem impeccably clear until we begin to hammer out the details; until we begin to get to work. Needing to change aspects of the vision doesn’t mean you’re a loser/failure/uncommitted. It means you are realizing that as hard as you’re trying, something isn’t working for your highest and greatest good. Instead of pushing in the name of being “strong,” take a step back and re-evaluate the plan, and the steps you’re taking. You are entitled to lighten your personal load. To pivot. To release and discard. Don’t wait until you suffer massive physical symptoms as permission to recalibrate. Trust me, toothaches are no fun!

Emotional Wellness, Guest Contribution, storytelling

There’s Always Tomorrow: An Honest Reflection On the Power of Surrender

Guest Contributing Post By: Nathelie Zetrenne-Norman

As a millennial mom, constantly adding things to an already full plate, I had to learn how to balance activities, and life itself.

Not balanced as in, “I can make my way through the week cramming things in,” but, being efficient in my methods; organizing my time and utilizing it well, while also understanding it is okay to say, “no.”

At 28 years old, my life isn’t exactly what I thought it would be.

yellow mug besides laptop
Photo by Content Pixie on Pexels.com

Between chasing after a one-year-old, working full-time as an Admissions Counselor which requires frequent traveling, being a Master’s level student who intends to graduate with a notable grade point average, a wife, and friend, and simply trying to be myself- times get rough.

In the beginning of my program, I often wondered, “Why did you do this to yourself?” Of course I didn’t have to sit through a two-hour, twice-a-week, online class or write long papers on the synopsis of educational theory. But I realized, adding on these extra responsibilities and tasks, were things I genuinely wanted. I wouldn’t have been putting myself through the ringer if they weren’t.

But about halfway through my graduate program, I took a hiatus from school. I was trying to figure out what I would do with the degree since my career plans had changed. I had a growing child who needed me every two seconds, a house that needed to be cleaned, a meal that needed to be cooked, laundry that needed to be folded, or a phone that needed to be answered because I was too tired to chat last time. During this hiatus, I realized it didn’t matter what I took off my plate, things would still be hard. Mothering, wifing, living, and basically functioning wouldn’t get any easier; I needed to find a way to make it work.

So, I decided that although my career plans had changed, I’d enroll back in classes and make the time. No more, “I don’t have time” or  “I just don’t feel like it.” I knew this was the beginning of getting to where I wanted to be; showing my son and other moms the best is always yet to come!

I chose to move with urgency. I set my priorities. I stopped allowing myself to get bogged down. I had to stop worrying about the towels being folded incorrectly if I asked my husband to do them, while I sat and completed an assignment. I had to stop being annoyed with the toys being scattered on the floor in every room after having picked them up thirty minutes prior. I learned to give myself the permission to say, “I’ll take out the trash now, but the grass will just get cut tomorrow.”

I realized stress is a choice. Yes, things may get annoying and not go your way, but that doesn’t have to stress you out.

It’s a balancing act.

I had to understand there is only so much time in a day to complete tasks, but also, only so much time in a day to kiss and hug on your loved ones; time to tell yourself, you’re amazing.

And those are the most important parts.

So, during the chaos of writing papers, changing diapers, playing peek-a-boo, folding laundry, cooking dinner, and answering the phone even when I don’t feel like it, I remember there is always tomorrow.

And something can wait!

Emotional Wellness, Post Partum Resources, storytelling

Confidently Cooking: 5 Tips on Cultivating Joy in the Kitchen

woman in green tank top holding orange bell pepper
Photo by Retha Ferguson on Pexels.com

As the news’ updates continue to roll in, and safety concerns rise over eating outside of the home, it is no surprise many of you may begin to experience anxiety over what to prepare in your kitchen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The truth is, for many millennial mothers across the U.S., cooking and meal-planning, are a source for stress, worry, and downright fear.

Despite the limitless access to family-friendly cooking networks and shows, like my favorite, “The Pioneer Woman” – books, magazines, and even Instagram pages supporting our inner homemaker, some of us still get a sense of overwhelm when it comes to creating healthy, hearty plates that everyone in the family can enjoy.

There are myriad of reasons.

For some mothers, this overwhelm is rooted in issues with time; you might have a career that imposes  constraints or unpredictability, causing you to outsource to local restaurants and establishments you trust. Fatigue, an imbalance in support from your spouse, or even the absence of a spouse, can also add to issues around time and overwhelm.

For others, it’s the fear of not being able to perfect certain traditional dishes, not being comfortable with your cooking skills, or simply, not having any cooking skills at all.

And if you’re a mother who falls in the last category, have mercy on yourself. Becoming skilled in the kitchen might have been thwarted by a few factors.

For one, as a millennial mother, you happen to be part of a generation of women who came of age in the midst of being spoiled by easy access to campus life or dining halls. Remember the quick, pressed grilled chicken panini sandwiches and wraps? The late night orders to Domino’s Pizza and Denny’s pancakes on the weekends? Compounded by limited time and space, the stage might not have been set to help you develop the inner culinary you. 

And even if the access to meal cards or dining halls aren’t part of the reason why your ability to cook wasn’t fostered before now, you might have been the student always working or studying, preparing to stand out in an ever competitive environment. Food prep was always an afterthought.

For me, it was a combination of a few things.

While ordering out as a single, working professional worked, once I became a mom, I learned the hard and expensive way,  how going back to work on my traditional dishes would not only be healthy for my family, but would help me kick a self-sabotaging belief that if the dishes didn’t come out like my mother’s, they weren’t worth eating.

And that ladies, is the category many of us bashfully fall into.

As a woman of Haitian descent, it is important to note the level of pressure placed on cooking. Known for authentic cuisine with dishes like soup joumou (pumpkin soup), diri djon djon (mushroom rice), diri kolé (rice and red beans), lambi (conche), tassot kabuit (fried goat) or legumes berejen (eggplant), and a Sunday classic- diri Blanc ak sos pois (white rice and black bean stew), it is expected you’re prepared to cook for your family. Intimidation or simply not being able to, can leave you feeling less than or even shameful. 

Don’t believe me?

Just tune in to myself and former guest, Vanessa Coquillo‘s episode where we discuss this in entirety.

So if the anxiety of having to cook multiple tasty meals is seeking to overwhelm you, take heart.

And a deep breath. 

Here’s five tips I’m sharing, learned over the last three years of transitioning into a full-time stay-at-home/work-from-home mom, you can use during this season. Give yourself permission to cultivate a spirit of joy instead of fear, when it comes to nourishing your family.

anise aroma art bazaar
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

  1. Have confidence: preparing food is an exchange of energy. Approaching your cooking with love and a mindset that you’re capable, is a great place to start. Even if you miss a step or two, your meals will resonate a love and affection your children will grow to appreciate.
  2. Keep practicing: a sure-fire way to become good at anything, is to keep working on it. The same goes for nourishing your family with what you cook. I know it can feel annoying to not yet have mastered dishes you ate maybe everyday as a child, but don’t give up. Keep working on those dishes until you feel satisfied with the outcome.
  3. Kick perfectionism: Have patience with the process and trust your own style of preparing food. Making meals is an art form for sure, but the beauty of making art is it’s defined by the artist. While traditional recipes might have a structure to how they should turn out, you have the special something that adds its own flavor to how you feed your family. Add more of this, or less of that. You can use different oils or spices until you and your family are well versed with the meal.
  4. Make it fun: Before you get mad at me for suggesting to incorporate the kids, one way to know that you’re making a difference, is when they begin to show interest and want to participate. If you’re a neat freak like me, this might seem intimidating at first, thinking about how much of a mess might incur, but allow these moments to help you bond and grow deeper in your nurturer’s role. These are the moments that don’t have a strict guideline for and honestly, that’s a good thing. Give yourself permission to loosen up and receive the joy from bonding with your family. 
  5. Keep it simple: how on Earth can you decide if everybody is healthy or getting what they need in a society throwing studies and information at you 24/7? This alone used to intimidate me and fill me with excuses from feeling engaged in the kitchen. Start with the basics. Incorporate veggies of all types, flavor them in a way that gets the babies engaged. Don’t fear repetition. Don’t fear rejection. Gently introduce new things as you go along. The best thing as a mother, is to not let fear or shame grip you.

Happy Cooking!

 

 

 

 

Emotional Wellness, Post Partum Resources, storytelling

When ‘Awareness Months’ End : 3 Ways to Emotionally Manage a Miscarriage

I am one in four

Apparently, all of this emotional upheaval left me with some unfortunate news of my own. It was December, and I began feeling funny.  I started having headaches and I noticed my menstrual cycle was off. I thought we were pregnant again…We learned I had suffered a miscarriage. Although I hadn’t been far along, I cannot break down how crushed and perplexed I felt. Immediately, I plunged into self-condemnation.- Ch 12. “The Audacity to Finish”- A Memoir

 

October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month, here in the U.S. At any point during this month, if you signed-on to a social media outlet, the hashtag was hard to miss. However, as the month comes to a close, the awareness also dies down. Stories stop getting shared, while many mother’s still grieve.

According to the March of Dimes, a miscarriage is defined as the spontaneous, unexpected, sometimes unexplained loss of a baby before 20 weeks of gestation. Stats reveal 10% of all first trimester pregnancies end in miscarriage.

For us millennial women, the use of awareness months and hashtags have become a way to share stories, information, and tips for prevention.  But beyond these 31 days, come many holidays,  which may act as triggers to emotional scars not yet healed.

As a fellow survivor, I’m sharing with you, three ways to emotionally manage your miscarriage, beyond the month of awareness.

  1. Feel your grief: You might already be feeling a range of emotions, but central to our generation’s experience is trying to numb our emotions by hiding behind perfect posts; sometimes it’s mindless scrolling to avoid actually dealing with what’s trying to surface. You can begin to feel your grief by talking to others. Share what hurts, how it hurts, when it hurts. Talk about what it means to you to have lost a child. 
  2. Stop rushing past your grief: Sometimes it takes a few months and sometimes it takes years. With society’s approach of ‘fast and now,’ sometimes it can feel burdensome to you and others to unpack the loss of a pregnancy. Most people are unaware of the connection that forms between a mother and child, even if the loss happens “early.” While it may hurt to be asked questions like: ‘why aren’t you over that yet?’ Don’t take it personally. Honor the loss for as long as it takes until you reach acceptance and feel peace. 
  3. Find a support group: Whether it’s mother’s who pray together or book clubs, find an avenue to channel the experience in a healthy or even creative way. At times, it may feel supportive to get on Instagram or Facebook to share, but those are open spaces without any rules for sensitivity towards unhealed emotional experiences. Beyond awareness months, you may be doing more harm than good, expecting to feel supported or safe in those spaces. Work up the courage to get into real community. Can’t find something? Create it. 

*Bonus*

Prayer and Meditation: Suffering a miscarriage can be a deeply disturbing experience, spiritually. It is not uncommon to feel abandoned by God, angry at God, or altogether disinterested in continuing your faith walk. However it is manifesting for you, know that beyond the pain, sadness, or even disbelief of a miscarriage, comfort and restoration are always available to you, in the hands of the Divine.

A Prayer for Grieving

Heavenly Father, Blessed Mother, I humbly come before you, with my arms wide open. I present before you my blessed womb. I surrender to you my sadness, rage, resentment, fear, frustration, depression, misunderstanding over the life no longer present in my womb. I pray to receive soul-level healing. I pray to receive heart-renewing gladness. I pray to be held in your arms as I process this season of my life. I love you and I trust you. In your blessed name (Christ’s name) I pray. Amen.

Affirmations to work with at this time:

I am loved by the Divine

I am comforted by the Divine

I am seen by the Divine

I am restored by the Divine

Essential Oils to work with at this time:

  • Geranium: helps soothe a broken heart and supports feeling trustful.
  • Cypress: helps with teaching the soul to let go of the past and supports the release of feeling stuck emotionally or mentally.
  • Peppermint: helps with feelings of despair, intense sadness, and discouragement, and supports feeling relief, optimism, and strength.
  • Bergamot: helps with feelings of self-blame, judgement, and supports feelings of self-acceptance.

For a personalized blend, send your request here.

For past episodes dealing with grief and loss:

https://thebeautifulstruggle.blog/2018/11/19/life-after-neonatal-loss-claire-daniels-talks-embracing-motherhood-a-second-time-around/

https://thebeautifulstruggle.blog/2017/06/07/pt-2-post-partum-the-doula-help-an-exploration-of-grief-transparency-accepting-help-after-birth/