Motherhood and the fear of making mistakes

Last week in a moment of deep reflection, I realised that I have a profound fear of making mistakes. It feels funny to me that I hadn’t realised it previously but the thing with our fears is that usually until we work to unpick them, our fears manifest in our real life as some of our more unwanted habits or behaviours. For me, the fear of making mistakes manifests as procrastination. I procrastinate because that protects me from making mistakes.

Several months back I took an online quiz to discover my fear archetype having listened to Ruth Soukup’s podcast series called, “doing it scared.” The results were a little, “yes, that’s pretty much what I expected,” and so I parked the idea and didn’t think I’d particularly learnt anything new about myself, as I so often seek to do. But then something seemingly insignificant happened whilst I was at work the other day and I was suddenly floored by my realisation that perhaps these quiz results were perhaps a lot more revealing than I’d first led myself to believe. According to the quiz, procrastination manifests as the fear of imperfection, preferring not to do something at all than to risk it not being perfect. I’ve never been much of a perfectionist at anything which is perhaps why this label didn’t resonate with me at first but what does resonate with me is that I put off doing things that I want to and should do because I’m fearful of making mistakes.

Motherhood has opened up a rather daunting portal into my own childhood, my experiences and my upbringing, both the good and the bad. Looking at my inner child, I can see where some of this fear may come from. Perhaps it’s the inherent people-pleaser in me, the child (turn adult) who seeks to please others through their actions, who longs for praise and acceptance and who strives to make others proud before herself. Or perhaps it’s those times at school where I didn’t know the answers and having been put on the spot for an uncomfortable minute too long, I burst into tears in front of everyone, to release my emotions, the fear of being wrong (and therefore being told off /criticised/reported on) paralysing me into a state of discomfort unparalleled by much else. Perhaps too, there were times when I did indeed make some big mistakes as a child and the feeling of disappointment that I sensed from someone else led me to want to avoid that being repeated. I need to go deeper here, to explore the route cause of this fear but for now, I’m just happy to have joined some of the dots and worked out some of the puzzle.

I procrastinate so much in life and literally always have done, that it drives me (and my husband) pretty mad. I’m working on it, and I’ve made a lot of positive changes this year but I guess sometimes, in order to make the biggest changes of all, we have to truly understand the reasons why we have our “bad” habits because the release of fear is in the discovery of why the fear exists.

This fear of making mistakes is the reason I haven’t written more blog posts, despite more than 30 sitting in my drafts. This fear of making mistakes is why I haven’t taken steps towards starting a podcast yet even though perhaps I could have made the time to. This fear of making mistakes is why I agonised for weeks over deciding which new nursery to send the girls to because I just didn’t want to get it wrong.  This fear of making mistakes is why I dwell on the times when things haven’t gone right in Motherhood because I’m scared that somehow, I’ve messed up.

The responsibility of raising babies is heaped with opportunities to make mistakes. Of course, as parents, we will all inevitably make mistakes but sometimes the fear of doing so is so consuming. The fear and worry of not being good enough. The fear of one day being blamed and resented. The fear and worry of not raising kids to be able to manage everything life throws at them. The fear and worry that comes with every decision you make along the way and with that fear of making mistakes, the hope and knowledge that everything will probably be just fine!

So what can I do with my fear now I know why and how it exists? I can be more mindful about it, notice it and not fuel it. Action is the antidote to fear. A life lived to please other people is no life at all. A life lived to be of benefit to other people, is quite a different story.

 

 


Mindful parenting tip – don’t take it personally!

If your child doesn’t eat the lovely dinner you made them, don’t take it personally.
If your child doesn’t want to give you a hug or a kiss, don’t take it personally.
If your child hits you or shouts at you, don’t take it personally.
If your child stops playing the game they asked for after two minutes, don’t take it personally.
If your child ignores you over and over again, don’t take it personally.
If your child does the opposite of what you say, don’t take it personally.
If your child breaks something of yours, don’t take it personally.
If your child screams because you did something wrong, don’t take it personally.See the source image

Part of being a mindful parent is noticing when our child’s behaviour is triggering something in us. An emotive reaction, rather than a proactive response. When we take the time to cook for our kids or play the games they begged us to play and then they push the plate away or become quickly uninterested, we can so easily fall into that place of feeling hurt or disrespected, like our time has been deliberately wasted. But kids, and young kids especially, are just being honest and authentic. They don’t go about their days trying to make us feel bad or hurt our feelings but instead are just being their truest selves, not conditioned to think, act or behave for anyone else. It’s likely that there’s something else going on beneath the surface and it’s our job to tune into that.

Of course, it sucks to have your meal rejected or to have to take the brunt of the kicks and screams that get hurled our way, but it really isn’t personal. Finding that way to understand and tune into your child’s behaviour and work out what is going on for THEM helps curb that feeling of wanting to react. Resist the urge to say, “but I just spent ages cooking this for you,” or “you asked me to play so I am playing,” and replace those words with your observations instead. Be proactive, not reactive. Ask yourself why that behaviour is there and no that in these situations where we feel triggered, the reality is that it’s not about you at all, it’s about your child.

It’s not easy and there are many times when things really do feel personal but this practice, this ability to be mindful, it makes everything feel calmer and more peaceful overall.

Does this resonate? Share with me in the comments!


Summer started nursery and suddenly, I fell to pieces

Summer started nursery yesterday, for just under 4 hours, and when I went to pick her up, I was told that she’d cried the entire time, other than settling briefly outside for a few moments and inside for a short nap in her Key Worker’s arms. My usually happy and hungry baby hadn’t eaten or drunk a thing all afternoon and of course, just to add insult to injury, she burst into tears the minute that I picked her up, crying out with a look of sadness and confusion on her gorgeous tiny face. I know this is an all too common scenario, not unique to me or Summer but a situation that unfolds for thousands of kids and their parents at the nursery drop off every single day. It’s not fun for anyone, least of all when as a highly sensitive mum of highly sensitive children, the experience becomes difficult to shrug off.

Read More