Why do women feel that they have no right to their own time, a sense of guilt, of indulgence if they take time away from their family? Why do we have this mind set and how does it affect our physical and spiritual body and our relationships?
When my daughter was born although I was filled with joy and love I was also drowning in the sense of responsibility that I now had. That I would never feel that completely care free sensation of going off on my own for the day or sitting in the garden completely at peace with nothing to think about. Because I would always know that I had my child to consider now. I’m not complaining about that, but it has had a dramatic and profound effect on my mind and I had to relearn how to allow myself to make a little time to cherish me.
It’s an easy thing to do, to get so lost in your baby that you forget your own self and I wonder what, if any, ramifications there are to that. What if we start to hide behind this thought pattern? What if we allow our children to become an excuse to martyr ourselves and never cherish and nurture our own needs? What if we don’t challenge our thoughts?
In my work I see women (and men) who are completely drained of all energy, they have no perspective on their lives, everything is a chore, they are short tempered, trapped, resentful, jealous and defensive, they can’t see the joys or delights of life because they are so weighed down with the emotional and physical burden they have put on themselves. In just 10mins we can work together to release some of that tension productively, within an hour a real sense of calm and perspective is being restored. However, it can take years to work this accumulated anger out of their systems. I wonder how that affects their children.
What are the effects?Having a child is a deep and intense change in anyone’s life but if we lose the ability to nurture ourselves then do we also do our children a disservice?
We all have those days when we want to slam doors and growl at everyone, and that’s OK, we can accept those undulations in our hormones and patience. But it’s when we continually deny what we need and pretend that we don’t matter that tension develops in our minds and manifests itself physically as muscle or joint pain, IBS, eczema, headaches, perpetual colds and so on.
There is plenty of evidence to show that our thoughts have an instant and profound effect on our physical body. Try this with a partner and see what happens….
Mind and body connection
Stand with your eyes open and put your right arm out in front of you. Your partner will try to push your arm back down to your side, firmly but not forcefully, try to resist them. This gives you a general feel for your strength. Now close your eyes and think of things that have bought great sadness to you, remember all the negative, depressed, miserable things that really bring you down, make you cry. Now try to resist your partner as they push down on your arm. Finally with your eyes still shut and arm out in front of you fill you mind with everything that makes you laugh, smile, fill yourself with happiness and joy and try to resist your partner as they push your arm down.
In general people notice a significant reduction in their strength when thinking gloomy thoughts and an increase when focusing on joy and this is a very visceral and telling example of how important your mind-set is to your physical health.
Why do we deny ourselves then?
Now I’m not saying that parents should send their children to nursery as soon as possible, far from it, but perhaps we should look at our expectations and our core needs. I’ve always said that I was born when my daughter was born because I had to learn myself all over again. I could choose what things were carried in my life rucksack, keeping the things that were for my greater good and ditch the things that were just excess baggage. Having such a life changing event as a baby is the perfect reason to challenge and focus on the things that really matter.
You might like to think about these questions…
- · Are you worried about what other people will think if we aren’t prostrating yourself for your children every moment? Is how other people think something that you can control?
- · Do you think this is your duty, you are supposed to put everyone else’s needs above your own. If that’s the case, where did we learn that from? And is it really acceptable to think like that?
- · Do you enjoy the feeling of being needed that you get if you martyr yourself to your family?
- · What are the feelings of guilt about? Are you worthy of love and cherishment? Do you need to challenge your expectations, your judgements and self-criticism?
Positive Role model
If we are role models for our children and we want our children to make the most of their lives and be happy and empowered, then how does our attitude and action affect them? Perhaps one of our greatest gifts is to show them that even as an adult they have a choice and a right to nurture themselves.
By choosing to give yourself time not only will you feel happier and less stressed you will also be modelling an important lesson for your children to take through life. Loving yourself and cherishing your mind and body is not indulgence but an important part of a fulfilled and happy life.
So be strong and don’t indulge that guilt complex! - you may only need 10 mins a day or perhaps a morning a week to do something solely for yourself, something that nourishes you. And you will notice the immediate results on your relationships, on your self-esteem and on your health.