6 Steps To Finding Your True Self By Psychotherapist Laura Greenwood
It’s wonderful to welcome Maternal Mental Health Coach and Psychotherapist, Laura Greenwood of Laura Greenwood Therapy to the blog to share her 6 steps to finding your true self. Don’t miss it.
As we enter motherhood, our individuality can become lost. We’re suddenly faced with the question: ‘Who am I, now that I’m a mother?’.
In the early days of my own motherhood journey, I felt frustrated and angry that I’d seemingly transitioned from a respected professional to ‘just’ a mother. People touched my bump uninvited, voiced opinions on baby names, scrutinised my birth choices, and offered unsolicited advice at every turn.
Learning how to mother whilst working out who we now are as individuals requires a lot of physical, mental, and emotional capacity – let alone all the daily tasks of mothering!
We find ourselves with less energy to engage in activities that once made us feel loved, safe and accepted, exposing wounds we can’t hide anymore because we no longer feel good enough. As a result, mothers feel like they’re failing – a feeling that’s met with responses like ‘love every moment’. Really?!
Mamas, this is partly why it’s such a challenge to rediscover – or, more accurately, discover – our true selves. At this most vulnerable and life-changing time, we’re bombarded with messages about ‘bouncing back’, and we’re encouraged to be who we used to be as quickly as possible. This simply isn’t realistic. Nor even possible. We turn to parenting books for guidance, thinking external sources will give us some control when the real path to owning our motherhood, lies within us.
Barriers to finding your truth in motherhood
There are many barriers to mothers being their true selves. Motherhood is a unique journey for each person, but there are common obstacles underpinning much of the struggle.
The good mother myth
Society has rigid expectations of mothers, and we feel that if we don’t mould ourselves to this (mostly because it’s impossible!), we’re not a good mother. There’s an underlying belief that being wholly dedicated to our children is the only way to be good enough.
In today’s digital age, society’s unrealistic standards are forced on us more now than ever before. It’s become second nature to compare ourselves to others’ carefully curated social media content which creates feelings of inadequacy and a loss of self-worth. In turn, we’re even less likely to do what we need to encourage our individuality and authenticity. Add this to the guilt that mothers often experience when taking time for ourselves or to pursue personal interests, and it pushes us even further away from our true selves.
Motherhood can be isolating, preventing us from connecting with others who understand us. This is made worse by us hiding our true thoughts and feelings because, when we all do this, we never get the opportunity to hear that others feel exactly the same. When we’re unable to open up due to fear of judgement or rejection, we further diminish our authenticity.
Motherhood can be the greatest opportunity to find your true self
Both professionally and personally, I know motherhood can be the greatest opportunity to find your true self.
As children, we’re born free of the masks we later adopted to gain love, safety, and acceptance. We learned which behaviours were rewarded and punished, and we adapted to fit in. This survival mechanism isn’t needed in adulthood. As adults, we have the power to return to our authentic selves because we’re no longer fully dependent on others for survival.
Motherhood is a unique opportunity for this transformation. It allows us to experience the desire for our children to be themselves, and we want to support them in that journey. The first step to achieving this is doing it for ourselves.
In my journey, I’ve confronted the old coping strategies that helped me feel good enough, and I realised they were based on foundations that didn’t serve me: perfectionism and people-pleasing.
Anything less than perfection equated to failure and I spent a crazy amount of energy trying to fit in. Moulding myself to fit in felt like the only way to be accepted because I, at my core, was not good enough. But doing this stopped me from giving others the opportunity to see and accept the real me.
I no longer had the time, energy, or headspace for this, and I felt so, so lost. How could I feel safe, loved, and accepted if I couldn’t do what I’d always done?
Well, motherhood forced me to find other, more aligned strategies. It allowed me to uncover my true self and find the courage to show up authentically. It gave me permission to connect with my authentic self so I could show up as…well…me. And the most wonderful thing happened. I learned that the right people do accept and love me for who I am. And it’s so freeing!
6 Steps To Finding Your True Self:
1. Establish boundaries
Protect your time, energy, and space. Mamas, boundaries are essential for maintaining your identity among motherhood’s (and society’s) demands. You are worthy of having your needs met!
2. Seek support
Surround yourself with like-minded people who will nurture you. Joining a supportive community of mothers provides encouragement and understanding.
3. Remember you are more than a mother
Embrace the fact that you aren’t solely defined by mothering. You’re a multi-faceted person with passions, interests, and a unique identity.
And the world needs this!
4. Gain self-awareness
Recognise your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and physical sensations. This is the first step to understanding your inner world. Use those boundaries you’ve established to do what YOU need to do to self-regulate.
5. Feel the fear
Fear often holds us back. Confronting your fears and moving forward despite them is a significant step in discovering your true self.
6. Live a valued life
Live in a way that aligns with YOUR core values, not what society dictates they should be.
It may take time, but each step towards authenticity brings more fulfilment and self-acceptance. Motherhood doesn’t require you to abandon your true self. In fact, your authenticity is a gift not only to yourself but also to your children. By being our true selves, we empower our children to do the same.
Enjoy the journey, my friends.
If this sounds like you and you’d like support to find your most authentic self, sign up to Laura’s newsletter to be the first to hear about her upcoming course: Finding You Through Motherhood.
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