How to be all things to all people

OK, I’m totally joking with this title.

Of course we can’t be all things to all people, but do you ever find yourself trying to do just that — and then feeling completely overwhelmed by unnecessary guilt when you simply can’t do it all?

Me too.

It’s becoming more and more common in our society today, with constant streams of excellent reasons to feel completely inadequate coming at us from every angle.

But I’ve stumbled upon a fantastic solution, and I thought it might be helpful to share.  (We’ve even included a printable PDF below that will walk you through this process because we’re just nice like that at Power of Moms.)

To start off, here are a few recent reasons I felt unnecessary guilt:

  • I wasn’t volunteering in the classroom often enough.
  • I wasn’t singing with our church choir.
  • I wasn’t driving into Long Beach to visit my mom as much as I wanted.
  • I wasn’t making all the holiday crafts and decorations that I know my kids would love.

Maybe these things don’t seem like a big deal to you, but they were a big deal to me, and they were eating at me … week after week.

And this is the only solution I knew:

Just stop feeling guilty. Stop beating yourself up for nothing. There’s no benefit to these negative thoughts. Move on to more important things. Focus on the positive.

But that wasn’t working for me. I needed to go a step further, and the solution I discovered has totally eliminated my guilt. (I’m honestly giddy about this.)

Here’s the key (at least, for me):

The reason we feel guilty is because we are concerned that other people who don’t know what’s in our hearts will automatically assume the worst about us.

The teacher at school might be thinking, “Wow, I wonder why she doesn’t come in more often. She’s probably just watching TV all day.”  And the choir director might be thinking, “I call her about choir practice every Sunday, but she never comes. I bet she doesn’t think this choir is very important.”

Sound familiar?

After realizing I felt guilty because people didn’t know what was in my heart, I decided it was time to help them get to know it.

It worked beautifully.

I stayed after kindergarten one afternoon and opened my heart to Spencer’s teacher. “I’m so sorry I haven’t been here to volunteer more often. In my heart, I would be here every single day, but my life has been a little overwhelming, and though I’m doing my best to balance, I’m simply not able to make it here more than once a month or so.”

Do you know what she said?

“Oh, that’s no problem! I never even gave it one thought. Of course you’re busy, and this is the first time you’ve had all your kids in school. I bet you need these few hours to get things done at home. I’ll just put your name on the office list under ‘Will volunteer when she can,’ and anytime you’d like to help out, you’re welcome to be here.”

I left the school feeling like a million bucks. No more guilt.

This is me and my kindergartner--on one of the rare days I'm able to volunteer. Because I shared my heart with his teacher and let her know I would be there more often, if I could, I don't feel guilty on the days I have other obligations.  It's a win-win!

This is me and my kindergartner on one of the rare days I was able to volunteer. Because I shared my heart with his teacher and let her know I would be there more often, if I could, I don’t feel guilty on the days I have other obligations. It’s a win-win!

That Sunday, I sat down with a nice little note card and wrote a message to our choir conductor at church. I thanked him for calling me each Sunday and for doing such a wonderful job leading the practices. I told him that in my heart, I wanted to be there for every single rehearsal, but I was stretched too thin, and I was sorry that I had to step back from the choir for awhile.

He pulled me aside later that day in the church hallway and said, “Thank you for your kind note. I know you’re a busy lady, and there’s no problem at all.”

I had such success with this method that I kept right on sharing my heart with everyone I felt I was letting down.

I told my mom that, in my heart, I would be in Long Beach every afternoon to go for walks down by the ocean.

I told my children that I really would love to be that “crafty” kind of mom they dream of having.

And what was so amazing about this process was that every single person I let into my heart completely understood me. They really weren’t assuming the worst, and I can’t even tell you how much relief that brought me.

They know I’m human — just like they are. Just like you are.

So this is my invitation to you today:

Share your heart with others and erase that guilt.

Although we, as deliberate mothers, can’t be all things to all people, we can be a lot of things to a lot of people. And I think that is absolutely more than enough. Don’t you?

QUESTION: What methods have worked for you to erase your unnecessary guilt?

CHALLENGE: Do you want to join me in this process?

Below, I’ve included a simple printable where you can figure out which parts of your heart need to be shared so you can reduce your guilt.

On the left, you write all the reasons you feel unnecessarily guilty.  In the middle, you identify who needs to know what’s in your heart, and on the right, you choose the best way to communicate with that person. (Then you just pick one at a time and DO it.)

Click here to download the PDF: “Erase the Guilt by Sharing My Heart”

Image of "Erase Guilt" PDF

And once you try it out, let me know how it goes in the comments below. (But if you don’t get around to commenting, that’s OK; I know in your heart you would!)



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