How To Make Difficult Decisions - The 4 Step Method For Any Situation
I’m sitting in an airport departure lounge waiting for my flight as I write this message.
I’m flying out of the country for a week…
Without my husband or children…
And it’s not for work.
I’m off to a health retreat in Portugal on my own.
Do you judge me as you read that?
If you do – you’re not alone as I did too.
Visiting this health retreat is something I’ve dreamed of doing ever since I became a mother.
I visited it annually with my husband for a few years before we had our children and absolutely loved it. I’ve never felt so vibrant, energised and healthy.
After having children, though, I thought this retreat was a distant memory until my children grew up. After my first child, I tried to transform into the ‘good mother’. The one that was always there for her child, the one that tried to fit the mould of selflessness.
Not only could I not find happiness there, but I completely lost my health.
Even after my burnout experience eight years ago when I devastatingly lost my health, I still couldn’t imagine ever being able to book into this health retreat.
I’d often told my husband that I craved to revisit this retreat but told myself it wasn’t possible. Not while I was a mum to young children, and that I couldn’t afford it or couldn’t justify spending the money.
Despite my top value being health! Turns out when you lose something, you realise how valuable it is!
I have left my children before to go away. But only in the role of professional, partner or friend. Never just for me – just because *I* wanted.
This Christmas, my husband bought me a voucher for the health retreat, and it stopped me in my tracks. I was being forced to face my own needs and desires, and it sent me into a bit of a tailspin.
Here I was being given what I’ve wanted for a while, and it didn’t feel easy to receive.
I was, of course, incredibly grateful for the gift, but it also made me feel frustrated. I now had no excuse not to go, but it still felt difficult.
Once I could lean into my resistance, I could see it for what it was.
It was me trying to contort myself into the box of being a ‘good mother’ and disowning my own needs and desires.
And then I began to feel angry. Angry that I felt like I needed my husband’s permission before I could permit myself to do something that my heart desired.
Let me be clear – I always had my husband’s support to do this, and he’s incredibly supportive of me following what makes me happy. But the explicit permission of him buying me this voucher made me face the fact that I hadn’t been able to permit myself.
That I’d given my power away. That I’d lost the ability to follow what makes me happy, as I thought it was in opposition to what a good mother does.
I then was hit by the words of Eve Rodsky –
You’ve been complicit in your own oppression.
I’d told myself a story that this wasn’t possible, not only because I was a mother to young children. But because it’s expensive and I couldn’t afford it.
The truth is that I could afford it. But it turns out I was telling myself a story that I couldn’t and that I wasn’t worth it.
I was also getting caught up in the trap of the ideal mother. A web that I know holds mothers to impossible and often unhealthy standards.
A trap that had contributed to my burnout experience.
Now I appreciate that there is a privilege in this story. Not everyone can afford a holiday, especially abroad, without their family. And not everyone would want to.
But I bet there are parallels to this story in almost every mother’s life.
The chances are that if you find yourself judging me for leaving my family for a week to be in my own company for the pure luxury of taking care of myself, then you too might be held back from honouring your own needs and desires.
And don’t worry, you’re not alone – it’s my default setting.
Heck! It’s almost every mother’s default setting.
- That night away with your girlfriends to be carefree for a night that you keep putting off because it feels frivolous?
- That lazy Sunday lunch with you and your partner without your children just feels selfish?
- Asking the grandparents to have the children overnight so you can have that lie-in that feels difficult?
When we can start to see how we’re disowning our own needs and desires, we can begin to make more empowered choices.
Is it easy? Not always. But when we reconnect with the ways that stop us from feeling depleted and disempowered, we can become a more loving present mother as a result. And we also show our children how to live a life that expresses their needs and values.
So how do you start to do this? By living BOLD-ly.
Not only does it often take bold action to step outside of what our society and culture tell us we ‘should’ be doing to find our path as a mother. But this method is based on the acronym of BOLD.
This method helps to navigate situations or decisions that feel difficult:
B = Breath – deep and slow breathing to gather your strength to think clearly and unhook yourself from the situation.
O = Observe what’s happening – your own thoughts, the stories you’re telling yourself, your body and what feelings.
L = Listen to your values – remind yourself what’s most important as you navigate the situation.
D = then Decide on an action that is in alignment with your needs and values
I hope this helps you find ways to say yes to the things you really want to do even when it feels difficult.
We’re genuine, like-minded women, just like you!
We’re a community, reinventing how we combine work and motherhood without sacrificing our sanity and wellbeing.