I am tired of hearing about people feeling guilty, others trying to make you feel guilty, guilt trips, I am sick of guilt!
How many of us feel guilty about decisions that we have made, or actions that we have committed on a daily basis? Little things like, I should have really recycled this, I shouldn’t throw out this leftover food, or my dog could have really used another walk today. There are hundreds of little choices that are made each day that don’t fit in with our ideal of what life would look like in a perfect world. Then there are the big ones. I should really go visit my parents this weekend. All of this take out food is cause me to put on weight! Let’s skip the gym again today.
I looked up the definition of guilt in the Merriam Webster dictionary. Definition one: “responsibility for a crime or for doing something bad or wrong”. No crimes are being committed most of the time so this was no help. Definition two: “a bad feeling caused by knowing or thinking that you have done something bad or wrong”. Wait, what? Guilt is a bad feeling caused, not by me, but knowing or thinking that you have done something wrong or bad.
I try not to feel guilty about things much anymore. Mind you, years of expensive therapy helping me recover from a traumatic childhood have helped me get to this place. I have embraced the idea that guilt is a waste of time and energy. A waste of emotion if you will. I am either going to do something or not, but I am not going to feel guilty about my choice. I take responsibility for my choices, good or bad.
On the other hand, I do feel regret. I looked up this definition as well. I found it means to, “feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity)”. Ah, yes. Looking back with 20/20 vision and more information, we can kick ourselves over and over. If only I had taken that childbirth class, if only I had gone with my gut. For me, I have regret about overfeeding my newborn son with formula in the first few weeks of his life. I watch him overeat as a 20 year old and wonder, did I cause this? But I then quickly try to let this go. Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve are useless in these cases. What is done is done. What happened, happened. Most of the time, there is no reset button. We are so quick to blame ourselves! (Quick side note: another lesson learned. If something is “our fault” that means we somehow had control over the situation. Most of the time this is an ILLUSION of control. Most of life is out of our control. Scary, but true. Scary, but freeing?) Why am I not blaming the hospital, doctors, friends, and family who didn’t teach me how to properly bottle feed formula? It is often easier to blame yourself then get angry with others for not doing their jobs.
Back to regret, when I catch myself feeling regretful, I stop and choose to think about something else. I can’t change the past BUT I can be kind to myself RIGHT NOW. That, I fortunately can control. I can be nice to me. I can say, “You did the best you could at the time with the information you had.” And with age and experience, much of the time I can do this. Makes for a much happier life, that I can promise you!
So, what about breastfeeding? In my world, people talk about how I am making mothers feel guilty about not breastfeeding. Can I do that? Do I really have that much power?
There is a new video commercial from Similac that focuses on judging other mothers, or really about not feeling judged, guilty, about the choices we have made. But these emotions are close friends! Of course they are focusing on breastfeeding vs. formula feeding because they want you to stop feeling guilty about using their product. Sad pumping mothers, how breastfeeding is the thing that is going to push over the edge with your incredibly busy life. There is miss-information about breastfeeding in this commercial as well. They throw in some other examples of judging but do not be fooled into thinking this very wealthy corporation cares about you. They do not. They care about helping you feel comfortable using their product. To add insult to injury, all the babies are being bottle feed inappropriately. The flow too fast, formula leaking out the sides of the babies’ mouths. Why aren’t these babies being properly bottle fed? They want you to overfeed your babies so you use more of their product. More money. Listen to our new podcast about this for more info.
We all make judgements all of the time. It is human nature. Judging is not a bad thing. It helps keep us safe and make thoughtful decisions. So the idea that we are bad people for making judgements is the biggest judgement of all! Thanks Similac! What we do these judgey that come to us is what we have control over. It is usually best to just keep these thoughts to ourselves!
OK. You know who judges you? YOU. “I could do this better…” says one of the mothers in the commercial. Wanting to do things better is actually fine. Beating ourselves up about it is not. I believe we make ourselves feel guilty. Not others.
We have no problem with scorning mothers for drinking during pregnancy. Making comments to her about how she is endangering her baby. We would have a conniption fit if we saw a mother put a baby into a car without a car seat. Yet, over 1000 babies die each year due to not being breastfeed. There are risks involved with formula feeding.
How come no one criticizes the health care work who encourages a mother to quit smoking during pregnancy? Yet, I am being too pushy!
The Similac commercial ends with, “There is nothing more satisfying to hear from another mom than you are a great mom. You’re doing a wonderful job.” True enough. But let’s say it to ourselves as well.
Similac, stop trying to make me feel guilty about promoting good health. I am not falling for it.