So, why do we do it to ourselves?

Why blog? Why blog about my parenting inadequacies and uncertainties? That’s what I’m thinking about today. To what end am I doing this? What’s my motivation, my agenda? Since becoming an adult, its rare for me to do something just to do it, just because it feels right. Its unsettling, and I keep trying to define it somehow. But right now, I can’t. And maybe that’s enough.

I’m just writing, processing, diarising my thoughts – bearing witness to my vulnerabilities. In fact, doing what I’ve been doing for as long as I can remember, but a bit more publicly! Writing is my medium. My way of working out the world, processing my thoughts, making sense of what is going on around me. It quietens my noisy head, gets stuff out there, is cathartic.

So, that’s why I’m doing it. But there’s more. There’s the spark of connection I’m looking to create with others. And it seems to be working…

The responses so far, particularly to this post and this one have surprised, intrigued and delighted me. The most common refrains have been “I never imagined you were thinking that” and the lament “why do we do it to ourselves?” and assume that those around us have got their shit together when we haven’t. Why do we beat ourselves up so? Shame ourselves? Assume we are failing where others are succeeding?

Like me, it seems like we all know in our hearts this isn’t true, that this just can’t be the case. But something emotional and unconscious leads us to this place when we are struggling, desperate and vulnerable, or just having a lousy day. We cease to be kind to ourselves, soothe ourselves or reassure ourselves, and instead berate, compare ourselves unfavourably, make ourselves feel more crappy than we already do. Seriously, what is up with that?

I am completely engrossed in Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly right now, and I get the feeling the answer might be somewhere within its exploration of shame and vulnerability; she argues very convincingly that feelings of vulnerability and shame lie at the heart of most of our struggles…. That makes a lot of sense. But my mind works slowly when I read something new, I like to chew it over, make sense of it, apply it to my own experience and that takes time.

So while I’m doing that, I’m opening the question to the floor – why do we do it to ourselves? Anyone want to puzzle this out with me? I’m dying to hear your thoughts.

3 thoughts on “So, why do we do it to ourselves?

  1. Lol, I ask myself that question often…..not necessarily over any one issue . I too like time to digest but here’s a gut response…

    I do it to myself because instead of looking into myself, discerning what moves me and makes me grow, what feeds me and builds me up I look outside and compare.
    It’s faster, it’s more immediate feedback, by fitting into the pack there is security. By looking at my peers there is perhaps the illusion that there is ” a way” to parent.

    13 years of being a Mum and I am increasingly recognising that can’t be any more true than there is one way to be a friend, a daughter or an employee.

    Parenting is first and foremost about real relationship , at its most basic, it’s most raw and often, the most rewarding…….assuming I am prepared to be open to the lessons my children can teach me.

  2. Maybe it’s because parenting is a ‘long game’ where the success criteria are not fixed; where you may see you’re doing ok one day and in one aspect of being a parent, but the very next day it can all come crashing down and you realise you were so busy making sure life was fun you forgot to help them learn their 6 times tables. Now eldest child feels like a failure because she got 2 out of 10 in a test and clearly that is entirely my fault and so we’re all failing now, eurgh.

    I love the fact that parenting in my house is instinctive, not planned, not over thought but responsive and essentially haphazard. I have to accept that with that come mistakes and many moments when I feel incredibly vulnerable because I seem to be ‘getting it wrong’. This is at odds with all other aspects of my life where I know how to get it right and I can see when I’ve been successful. In all other aspects of life I can make adjustments, learn that thing I didn’t know and quickly correct my errors or short-comings, get the job done and feel better about myself.

    The tricky thing about parenting is letting go of all control; it’s like free fall and that’s scary but also exciting. It’s against the rules of all those other important things we ever did in our lives where the checklist would probably fit onto a side of A4!

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