Stop Being So Hard On Yourself

Photography: Georgia Russell

By Alex Koster

It is one of our main priorities in raising happy and resilient children: to help them gain a positive self-image, to be confident yet compassionate but also to have self-compassion, to love themselves and be comfortable in their own skin. We all know that children learn a lot from the example we are giving them…so how come that so many of us, including myself, are our hardest critic with this little person sitting on our shoulders whispering or sometimes just shouting: You’re not good enough!! Why did you have to do that? You could have done so much better! Put some more effort in!! You’re not doing enough!

I had a right giggle recently when I got a private message on Facebook from a friend that I hadn’t seen in many years. She wrote to me congratulating me on my life and family, we always look so happy and we must have the picture perfect life and that she really envies me. My first reaction was literally: “What on earth is she talking about?” but I guess this is another one of our modern day phenomena: Our Facebook “life” and how others perceive our lives based on the photos, comments, likes, emojiis and shares we display on our Facebook page. I scrolled through my profile and indeed all I could see were pictures with blue skies and sunshine, smiling children and the delicious meal we had on our trip to the beach. I wrote back to her thanking her for her kind words but I also told her a few bits of our real life – the ugly bits – that we rarely display publicly, mainly because we don’t want to bore people with the reality of a normal everyday life.

Unfortunately these “fake” online lives, ours and everybody else’s, often cause us to buy into taking them for real, even though we should know better. “The grass is always greener on the other side”… “Linda is so much more creative than me”, “the O’Donnell’s are having such fun on their family outings”, “Tom’s children get on so well, they never seem to argue”, “how does Kate get the time to train for a marathon?”, “wow, Daniel and Shirley were out again on a date night last weekend”…We could spend all day following our “friends” on social media but as I know myself, our Facebook life doesn’t usually represent our real life, we usually select the photos we look our best in, or from a particularly exciting, remarkable or enjoyable event; rarely do we see public posts about the last time the baby puked on our jumper, a photo of our darling children screaming blue murder at each other or describing the last big fight we had with our husband about feeding too many sweets to the kids!

Even without constantly comparing ourselves to others, be that in real life or on social media, us mums and dads never seem to feel that we are doing everything we can to be a good parent. I catch myself frequently debating in my own head that I should do more art with the girls, that we should spend way more time outdoors, that even though I write a lot about mindfulness for children I should practice much more myself and do more exercises with my children.

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