185. Emotional needs in motherhood (what they are and how to meet them)

How are we told we SHOULD feel in motherhood, versus how do we truly feel in motherhood?

We spend a lot of time and energy living in default emotions, while hustling to shift away from uncomfortable emotions and into more comfortable emotions. I want to open up your options for empowering emotions that you can feel in motherhood, emotions that generate capacity instead of exhaustion. And I want to have the conversation about HOW we are meeting our emotional needs in effective or ineffective ways. 

Covered in this episode:

Staying connected over the summer

Catch up on the Spotify Playlists

The Facebook group, reopened if you were wanting to join it

Follow along Instagram

Join the Simple Saturdays email, the virtual coffee date with your Nerdy Girlfriend 


Full transcript (unedited)

Hey friends, it’s Shawna, your nerdy girlfriend and counselor from simple on purpose.ca Welcome to the simple on purpose podcast, we are wrapping up our series on meeting your needs. And today I want to talk about the emotional needs of motherhood. Because I think as a whole, the most exhausting thing about motherhood is when I do motherhood from emotions like anger, frustration, overwhelmed defeat. And so often, it’s not what we were we are doing, it’s how we are showing up for it. And we can do all of this work on intentional living. But what is it all for if we still go through our day feeling all of these heavy or conflicting things? I remember some years ago, Connor asked me how my day was, like he usually does when he gets home from work. And I said it was good. And he paused. And he said, I don’t remember the last time he said that. And it kind of hit me to that I usually don’t say my day is good, it usually doesn’t feel good. And I was really going through my daily life doing okay. And at the end of the day, he would ask me how my day was and how we tell him all the problems and all the things that was that were feeling like way too much. And this was becoming my story. This was my emotional experience of my day. And our emotional experience matters. Firstly, because we show up from these emotions, the way we act when we’re angry or stressed or scared, is not the way we act when we are calm, feeling purposeful, feeling capable, feeling like we can trust the situation. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’m going to be short with the kids, I’ll start to shut down on things I should do, tasks will pile up. And I won’t have time to stop and really support myself or others. In fact, I begin to act in ways that take me further away from taking care of myself. So as this becomes my daily experience, than thinking of things like self care, and taking an afternoon off to get lunch, and a haircut, I’m not going to magically just feel calm and resourced and head back into parenting. Like, I didn’t just have these days and weeks and months of kind of like emotional trauma are overwhelming my body. So when we have day after day of feeling a certain emotion, this becomes our story. I talk about this a bit more in making memories and motherhood, if you want to go listen to that one. So our emotions need to be addressed. We can just go through the emotion, the motions of life. I mean, we can and we are. But when we address how it feels along the way, and what we do with those feelings, then we gain power, we gain power over how it feels to have the life that we have, how or how it could feel the opportunities available to us. I was researching this idea of basic emotional needs, like what emotional needs do we just have as humans. And of course, there’s different theories over the years with different lists on what basic emotional needs are for humans. And even now we’re in an era where we’re having a lot more conversations about a child’s emotional needs, you know, our parents were not being told that we needed to feel safe, accepted, accepted, nurtured, have autonomy, but also support set limits, play with them, like they weren’t getting all that stuff that we are now learning is important to a child’s development and attachment. And then what about moms? What are our emotional needs? I mean, if our kids have emotional needs for healthy development in childhood, why wouldn’t we have emotional needs for healthy development and motherhood? That’s just a thought. And I think it can open an interesting conversation about what we expected to feel in motherhood versus what we actually feel in motherhood. Because there is this cultural expectation that motherhood is going to be bliss, you know, they tell you like, you hold your baby for the first time. And it’s like no love you ever knew well, that was an eye experience for all of my births. They say we want to give everything to our kids and that motherhood is so magical. It’s the best job on Earth. And we really get the message that if we do it right, it is easy. And if we are good parents, we will have good, happy obedient kids.

And they tell us that motherhood is such a fulfilling job that we won’t miss anything else in our life. We won’t feel like we’ve had to give up things because after all, we have these wonderful tiny humans and they’re so good because we’re so good. Easy, so content so peaceful. And then we see those stock photos of families gathering around the table laughing playing board games. Man if I had a cricket sound effect here, I would put that in because this can be true at times that these are these magical moments and it feels great and all this stuff. But it’s not the only an entire experience of motherhood. Motherhood involves all of the emotions, frustration defeat, overwhelming exhaustion, anger, confusion, lonely In this resentment I could go on. And I think all of these emotions matter to our experience in motherhood, mostly because this is our real actual life. And it turns out that it is messy to be in a relationship with a family, we are going to have these uncomfortable or quote unquote, negative emotions. And it’s also important to think about our emotions, because every emotion has a purpose. We need to use our emotions as information, they are indicators that we need to pay attention to, they are little messengers, prompting us to take action. I dig into this a little bit more on an episode about three things I didn’t know about feeling negative emotions, if you want to listen to that one. But back to this idea of what we thought motherhood would feel like, when I work with moms, we talk about what they want, what their vision is, what their values are, what they want, home to feel like, or their family to feel like, and they want to feel happy to feel content, they want to feel peaceful in their home. And the hard part is one, how do we get that? What are our learned pathways to happiness and peace and contentment? What conditions are we putting on that? And then the other part that’s hard is, what do we do when we don’t get it? I’ve got a couple episodes about the hustle for happiness, and we’ll have simpler home bring me peace. I’m going to put those in the show notes. And then what ultimately happens when we are focused on feeling happy and peaceful, is that we also limit our emotional experience to these emotions. To the end, they’re fickle. And they can even be vague. Because what does that even look like? How do we get there? How do we know when we’re there? How long does it last? What takes it away. And I know this feels like I’m going way out there. But I’m hoping to bring it all back to meeting our needs. So hang in there. Because next I want to talk about getting dressed, and what it has taught me about meeting my own emotional needs. I’ve shared before that I had my first two kids 16 months apart. I mean, we worked pretty hard for the first one. The second one was a surprise. And my second my daughter cried all the time, she had reflux we didn’t know for a bit. And as we worked on managing that she was just generally unsettled. I’ve shared posts in the past, pre podcasting days, when I was blogging mostly about the overwhelm, I felt with her. The anxiety I felt just being a mom to a baby who was so unsettled. And how all of that moved me into this place of scarcity and stress and helplessness. And along this time, as I’m back in my OG blogging days, there was more of a community and we had blogging friends. And I decided at that time to do a challenge called the moms 30 for 30. And that was where we were going to wear 30 items for 30 days and just share our experiences on our blogs. You’ve probably heard me talk about this challenge, because I’ve done it countless times. No, I can count, there’s just like, between seven and 10 times over the years, I think and I just I do it. Because I love this challenge. I learned so much each time I do it. So I’m going to make sure I link to a page of all of those posts about the 30 for 30. But in doing that challenge, especially that first time going back to like 2015 where my life felt out of control. I found that my month as I did that challenge really shifted my focus on Domi taking a bit more care of myself. I got dressed every day on purpose. And sure, sometimes it was a hassle. But as I went through the motions, I realized that I felt more sense of control. I even felt some sense of self expression, which was new to me, I felt some sense of accomplishment because in a season of life where it’s just a blur of snack crumbs and changing diapers and keeping choking hazards out of toddlers hands, just getting dressed is something I mean, I couldn’t guarantee that I remember deodorant, and I couldn’t guarantee that I wouldn’t find my underwear on Inside Out for some reason, at one point in the day. But putting on clothing made me feel put together, it made me feel like I was ready for the day. A funny side thing is that doing this challenge also led me to use Instagram differently. And I found myself posting less about my kids and more about me, me me. I’ll share a link to a post about that as well in the show notes. But in going through something like this, I realized that I was spending a lot of effort chasing the notions of happy and peace a lot of the time and of course I was failing a lot of the time for various reasons. But in doing the challenge, I realized that there were other emotions that actually felt pretty great emotions, like feeling self expressed, accomplished and capable. And maybe I could do what was in my power, take some positive actions to feel those things more often. So I’m going to share with you a bit of a list of things that personally I have liked to feel in motherhood that aren’t that they can be some emotional needs that we have beyond and happiness, which can be elusive contentment is different, right and go listen to the post about that or the episode about that. But I want you to think about the emotions you’re trying to feel in your day. And what you could be on your list of emotions that you would like to feel maybe this week. But here’s the thing, here’s the thing I want you to think about most. With each emotion I’m going to talk about with each emotion that you want to feel. There’s two ways to get it, there’s the effective way, and an effective way. And that’s what we really need to consider. So let’s take one example, the emotion of connection, feeling connected, feeling connected, feels great, when we’re open to it, and we receive it, then we get some oxytocin from it. And a lot of people would say this is a basic need, as humans, we have this need to connect with one another, we are a social species. And of course, some of us are going to be on different ends of this spectrum where on one end, we might shut off this need and avoid connection. And on the other side of the spectrum, some of us might overcompensate this need and look for excessive hyper connection. So maybe we can aim being somewhere in the middle. So how do you as a mom feel connected in your day? I think at this time in this era, most of us turn online, I know I did, especially back when I was at home with my toddlers all the time and not around adults very often. And back when Instagram was more of a community and less of a marketing platform, I had genuine connections with other moms online. So now scrolling scrolling is how we feel connected, most of us who constantly reach for our phone to scroll or feeling a lack of connection, maybe even lonely. And we perceive this to be a solution because we somehow are connecting with the social lives of others, but maybe they’re not connecting with us. So we need to ask ourselves, is this an effective way to meet my need of connection? Do I leave it feeling a sense of connection, feeling a sense of I see you you see me that kind of connection. And if not what is a more effective way to meet this emotional need? We have emotional needs that we might not be aware of that we are maybe trying to feel something productivity, connection, appreciation, confidence, enjoyment. And the danger is when we’re trying to fulfill that need in ways that aren’t effective. So I’ll run through a couple of examples with these ones. Productivity as a stay at home mom. I know I really liked to feel productive. And it took me a long time to notice that I was struggling to find ways to feel this because I spent a lot of time not feeling it and feeling frustrated that I didn’t feel it. So how do we meet this need of feeling productive in our day? Usually, it’s with a checklist of all the things we think a mum should do. Or even worse, what we do to ourselves is we don’t actually make a physical checklist where we acknowledge it, we just have this vague, overwhelming sense of there’s all these things that I should do, that don’t really know what they are, but I know I should do them. That’s doubly overwhelming. So this checklist, whether it is unconsciously formed, or just looming like a swirling cloud in our brain, it puts pressure and expectations on us. And maybe just the checklist or the agenda becomes the whole focus of our day, we just live and die by it, we overperformed we hustle, we buy into our own sense of urgency that we must get it all done. But a more effective way to gain a sense of productivity is to ensure that we are being true to our purpose and our priorities, that we are still in line with what is important and urgent. And not buying false sense of urgency and not letting our priorities go on identified where everything’s everything seems important. So nothing is another one we want to feel as appreciation or validation and appreciation. It feels so great, doesn’t it? And motherhood is just one of those jobs where we have an invisible mental and emotional labor that is unseen by many, even those in our own house. But what framework do we set up for ourselves for letting ourselves feel appreciated?

Usually we let ourselves feel appreciated when others express it to us in a specific way. I feel appreciated when my kids say thank you for dinner and always taking such good care of me mom, or when my husband brings home flowers just to say thank you for being you and all that you do like it would be really easy to feel appreciated when those things happen. So how do you go throughout your day trying to get a sense of appreciation for me, I took it into the form of martyrdom, where I was just going to show how much effort and hard work I was doing. I was going to be a martyr. And it backfired Of course, I just ended up filtering out all the positive positive in my life and ruminating on the negative and overwhelm and I share poseable that, of course, as my counselor at that time pointed out to me as I have had the opportunity to point out Other moms as well. I can validate and appreciate myself, I can do that for me first and take others off the hook for that job. Confidence is another thing we want to feel. We want to feel competent in our parenting and just like appreciation, it can be something that we often outsource to others. So how are you getting a sense of confidence in your parenting? What ways? Are you looking for it? I talk about being confident in the mom, you are in an episode, I’ll link in the show notes, enjoyment, or feeling joy? How do you meet this need? Do you tell yourself you need to earn it you need to earn enjoyment in your life, you have to do all the hard work, and then maybe you can feel some enjoyment? Do you set criteria on how everyone else has to be acting in order for you to feel it? Or do you seek substitutes for joy through coping mechanisms through things that feel good, but they aren’t making your life better. Other things as I’ve gone over the years and talk to women about emotional needs. Other things I’ve heard mom share with me that they want to feel are things like I want to feel intentional, purposeful, I want to feel accomplishment. I want to feel nurturing, contentment, happiness, joy, those are big ones. I want to feel pride, I want to feel security. I want to feel relaxed, I want to feel a sense of belonging. I want to feel self expression, creativity, autonomy, I want to feel adventurous. I want to feel motivated, energized. As we wrap up the meet your needs series, I think it’s worth considering how you are feeling throughout the day. Everything we are doing in our day is a way that we are trying to get our needs met the best. We know how all of our actions are things that we think will help us either feel something we want to feel or avoid something we don’t want to feel. So paying attention to this emotional experience can also help us address our behaviors, and our thoughts and the assumptions driving our feelings and actions. Because all of these three are interrelated. Our thoughts, our feelings and our actions are interrelated. And to bring it all back to feeling like we have capacity being in our window of tolerance, the emotional energy, we use matters. And by this I mean if we’re going if we’re in a constant state of avoiding what we don’t want, we don’t want to feel I don’t want to feel guilt, I don’t want to feel fear, I don’t want to feel instability. I don’t want to feel incapable we burn out. But if we are in a stance where we are pursuing what we do want to feel we can feel energized. Specifically when we’re doing it in effective ways. If we are moving towards those things, we want to feel intentional security relaxed, adventurous, motivated, if we’re seeking those things out in effective ways, that’s going to energize us. And this is called the towards and away motivation. And I’ll link a post on that in the show notes stopped by the show notes for sure if you haven’t figured that out, because as I wrap up the podcast to take the summer off, this would be a good episode to dig into. And explore some of the links that are in there, there’s going to be a lot of links for any emotional needs that you feel you want to work on this summer, even just pick one. One thing you want to feel more of, and the effective ways you can get it. You can work on that this summer. I will also make sure to link the Spotify playlists where I sort all of the podcasts into different topics. And that’s just a fun way to catch up on the archives because there’s almost 200 episodes in the simple on purpose podcast. So check out the archives, there’s so much there for you. And also check out the website the search function because this website’s got almost 12 years of content. If you go to simple on purpose.ca scroll all the way down to the bottom. And there should be a search bar search for any topic that you would possibly be interested in. In motherhood, emotional intelligence, intentional living, simplifying, I think we’ve covered one of everything over the years. You can stay connected with me through the summer through the Facebook group that is reopened if you tried to join in the past and it was closed, it’s reopened now, you can follow me along on Instagram where I share stories from time to time. And always, of course, the simple Saturdays email where I send out two emails a month. Just fun little insights behind the scenes photos. The currently list of things I’m currently loving, recent updates and just like fun, people call it the ritual coffee date with their nerdy girlfriends. So that’s me, and that can be you. Let’s do it. Alright friends, have a great week.


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