Mom to mom, Dr. Claire Nicogossian is on a mission to help you stop being so darn hard on yourself. “We judge ourselves more harshly than our children ever will,” she says.
Judgment from other moms is another animal all together.
“Our judgment has become so skewed that we need to look at ourselves and be comfortable with our choices and allow other people to make their choices without imposing our values on them. That’s where we’ve gone wrong a little bit, I think. There’s way too much judgment on parents,” says Nicogossian, mom of four girls and clinical assistant professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University. She is out with a new book she hopes empowers moms with digestible tips, Mama, You Are Enough: How to Create Calm, Joy and Confidence Within the Chaos of Motherhood.
We asked her to share a few takeaways.
1. Know yourself
“This is not the time to look outward and compare yourself to other people, this is the time to look inward and know yourself,” she says. Especially keep an eye on what she calls active coping skills – such as a run or yoga – that are intentional to reduce stress, and passive coping skills – such as scrolling through your phone or drinking more – that are numbing and escapes, but really do nothing for stress.
“It’s not about judging yourself and feeling less than. It’s about observing yourself, observing your feelings and finding strategies to target what’s problematic and increase your joy.”
2. Manage your emotions
“Motherhood is emotional. It’s not meant to always be joyful and fun and feeling effective. There are going to be a lot of moments where you feel as a mother exhausted, overwhelmed, resentful, angry, worried,” she says. Label emotions, such as sadness, anger, embarrassment, disgust, shame, fear and worry without judgment. She calls these shadow emotions,
“We as parents cannot help or teach our children how to manage and regulate their emotions unless we first learn to manage our shadow emotions,” she says.
3. Do a little self-reflection
“If you are feeling like something is missing, stop and really look at it. … Highlight your strengths, don’t focus on where you can’t do everything because you can’t do everything.” She urges moms to remember they are doing the best they can and to focus on what they feel they are doing well.