People pleasing and new moms: the perfect storm

Posted by on Aug 9, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

beach postsNew moms and people pleasing.  If you’ve been following along, I bet you can see how those two combined make for some pretty stormy weather.

Even new moms with pretty sturdy boundaries can find themselves lost in those early years of mothering.  (Unsupported.  Depleted.  Feeling like failures.)

Much of what I do in work with people pleasers extends to the kind of work I’m doing with new moms, things like:

+ learning to say no without feeling guilty

+ support in setting up a regular practice of self-care

+ practice identifying and responding to one’s own needs, wishes, and feelings

+ exploring the roots of where this stuff comes from, so you can be a better parent and person

+ challenging the status quo that is built on an unhealthy model that a mother’s love = martyrdom (The Giving Tree, anyone?)

Of course, this stuff looks different with new moms.  You can’t exactly sit your newborn down for a chat about boundaries and how mommy needs some time to herself.

But there are still things you can do to protect and preserve your mental health, even as a new mom.

From people-pleasing to motherhood

ladies walking the pathAs I look at it now it seems like quite a natural progression, extending from work with people-pleasers to work with new moms.

How to care for and love other people without disappearing yourself.

How to say no and set limits especially with the people you love.

How to remember yourself in the midst of a busy day, a busy life, and a list of obligations a mile long.

You can see the overlap, I’m sure.

But I didn’t start off my career as a therapist caring about perinatal mood disorders.

Until I became a parent, postpartum depression wasn’t on my radar. 

It wasn’t discussed in school.

I didn’t know anyone who had it—or I wasn’t close enough to them to know the full story, at least.

And my blind spots were much bigger than just about maternal mental health.  I didn’t have much of a clue about parenting at all.

The friends and family who had “gone before” me into parenthood seemed on the other side of a dimly lit veil—I could sort of see them, but things were obscured.

I didn’t know what sleep training was, or that it was such embattled territory.

I didn’t know what a Nose Frida was,

or a doula,

or a sleep sack,

and why you would pay desperately for any of these if the need was great enough.

babyI think I knew from babysitting that you’re not supposed to feed a young child grapes or hot dogs unless they’re cut up properly.

I had changed a few diapers.

That’s about it.

We could have filled a thimble with what I knew.

Being a parent has been the biggest experiment in on the job training that I could ever imagine.

It’s been a day to day practice in delight, frustration, and vulnerability.  So I’m delighted bring that piece more fully into my practice, to work with new moms who are seeking support.

Moms who struggle with people-pleasing

running togetherBecoming a mother is certainly a transformation.  But you still do bring your old self into your new role.

So if you struggled with people-pleasing before motherhood, this way of relating is going to follow you into this new phase of life, too.

The good news is that this new role will offer opportunities to practice skills you’ve yet to master.

Perhaps you struggle to set limits for yourself, but you find the courage you need to set limits about the care of your newborn, or your toddler.

(Sometimes we can stick up for others better than we can stick up for ourselves.)

Combining people-pleasing and new motherhood can be the perfect storm; that’s why it’s important to have help in the journey, and to have that help early, if you can.

People pleasers give and give and give.  Motherhood is all about giving and nurturing and soothing and serving.

Even the most resolute mom with great boundaries is going to struggle from time to time when she tries to balance her needs with those of her child, her partner, her family, and the running to-do list she’s always got in her head.

Having gentle support for this new chapter in your life can make the whole experience a lot more pleasant and workable.  It feels good to have solutions and options that maybe you wouldn’t have considered on your own.

Help for New Moms in Austin

sunflowerI want to counsel new moms in Austin.  If you’re interested in learning more, send me an email or set up a free consultation and we can talk more about it.

You might be wondering how to cope if you’re a people pleaser and a new parent.

Or you may be wondering if what you’re struggling with is true postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety, or if you’re going through some of the typical emotional growing pains that new parents face.

Trust your gut. If something doesn’t seem right, pay attention.

Do some research online.  Pick one person you trust to talk to—your doctor, a therapist, your partner, a parent, a friend.  If you’re wondering or worried, that’s a cue to pay attention.

You’re always welcome to meet with me for a free half-hour consultation.  If I’m not the right therapist for you, I’ll help you find someone who is.

In the meantime, I’m reading books, consulting with colleagues, and pursuing additional trainings to help build up my knowledge and expertise about new motherhood, postpartum depression, and maternal mental health.

I’m still learning.

But if you mention using a Nose Frida in session with me, I’ll know what you’re talking about.

In my next post, I’ll be including some more information about common signs and symptoms of postpartum depression.

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As always, knowing which changes to make isn’t the hardest part of change.  It’s actually doing it, and sustaining those changes over time, in spite of the resistance and backlash that may come.

Helping people pleasers is what I do!  So, if you’re in Austin, Texas, and you’re looking for a counselor who helps people-pleasing mamas, drop me a line.  I offer free, half hour consultations in person at the office, and I’d be glad to set one up for you.

 

 

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