Dealing with guilt as a business mum

As business owners and mums we have the best of both worlds. We get the satisfaction and mental stimulation of running a business and we get to see more of our kids than we would if we had a traditional job.  Well, that’s the theory anyway! 🙂

That said, it can be very difficult to juggle all of our commitments.  We want to be able to have everything and do everything and often that just isn’t possible. Then something gets pushed to the back burner and we feel guilty about it.

Guilt usually happens when you don’t feel you are giving one aspect of your life or work the attention it deserves. It’s probably one of a mum’s most difficult emotions to manage. It can feel overwhelming and it really can hold you back from achieving what you want.

The good news is that you do have certain qualities that can help you manage or overcome your guilty feelings. Here are some things to think about…

Notice when you feel guilty and what causes it.

Pay close attention to what causes you to feel guilty.  Think about keeping a diary on when you feel guilty and what causes it. Often just writing something down can helps put it into perspective, or at the very least it helps ‘download’ what’s on your mind so you can move on.

Understand the reasons behind your guilt.

Let’s face it, you’re a woman of action! You see a problem and you probably want to create a solution to fix it. Unfortunately, guilt is an emotion that isn’t easily eliminated with a plan. Your best chance of conquering your guilt is to take an honest look at why you feel guilty.

For example, if you feel guilty that you can’t be part of the Parent Teacher Association at your child’s school, look at why this causes you to feel guilt. Do you think you should? Are the other parents volunteering? Often guilt surfaces because people think they should be doing things better or differently than they are. Decide whether this is the case for you and if it is really true. If you’re doing the best you can do and being the best you can be, there is really no reason to feel guilty.

Also, keep in mind that you don’t need to do everything right now. If your priority this year is growing your business, maybe next year you’ll have a little more time for the PTA? As women and mothers in particular we set such high standards for ourselves that it’s often impossible to live up to them.

Is your guilt productive?

Guilt is generally not a very useful emotion. If anything, it’s likely to drain your energy and stop you from taking action, which is why getting to the bottom of your guilt is such an important step.

Sometimes guilt can be a good thing, though. For example, if you feel guilty about not spending as much time on your business as you need to, then you can recognise that maybe you need to make changes in your schedule to reduce or manage the guilt.

Outsourcing or asking for help can be an useful way to manage your life and business so you don’t feel guilty. Find people who can help you and take advantage of your resources.

Guilt keeps us from causing harm to others. It does have a place and a purpose. Yet most of the guilt a busy mum feels has nothing to do with causing harm and is instead about thinking you can do everything yourself and that you have to be perfect.

If the guilt you’re feeling isn’t productive, take measures to let it go. If it’s not helping you create the life you want, it’s time to get rid of it.

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Comments

  1. Great advice Helen. Guilt is one of THE biggest topics of discussion with the women I work with and can be such a negative influence. One of the biggest sources is comparing ourselves to others whether consciously or unconsciously which is SOOOO unhelpful. We have to remember that we are doing our best and making tricky decisions on a daily basis that feel right at the time for ourselves and our family – so what IS helpful is to be kind to ourselves and focus on what we are doing well and what we can control. I’m not suggesting guilt is something we can eliminate but recognising it and as you say looking at the reasons for it are the first steps to looking more objectively and saying ‘sod this’ and not letting it control you.

    • Thank you! I do go through phases of comparing myself to others too, but saying ‘sod this’ is a good way to break myself out of that cycle. Good advice! 🙂

  2. Guilt and motherhood go together surely? Give me a mum who doesn’t feel guilty about something – she doesn’t exist! Whatever our jobs, priorities or beliefs, us mums will find something to feel guilty about.

    • I think you’re right. But sometimes I’ve found my guilt has almost paralysed me – so I need a way of reducing it down to a level where I can actually get stuff done!

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