“Treat yourself as you would treat a good friend.” -Kristin Neff
When my stepkids are here, I change into a different person. At the beginning of the week, I start off with high hopes and a positive attitude. I try to hang onto that joy, but towards the end of the week, I can feel it slipping away. I try to overlook being ignored, but I feel my patience run out. Each day of feeling invisible chips away at my resolve to be stronger this week and maintain my joy.
Sound familiar? This is a common scenario among many of the stepmoms that I coach. And the worst part is that then the stepmoms get angry at themselves for their feelings, which doesn’t help the situation.
How can I be kinder to myself?
If you’ve been in this situation, that’s when you need to ask yourself: How can I be kinder to myself? Being a stepmom is a complex role that takes some time to navigate, so it’s completely natural that you’re feeling this way.
To process your feelings and learn how to let go of them, you can use the T-R-U-T-H Technique, developed by Tina Gilbertson, a Licensed Professional Counselor and the author of Constructive Wallowing. Follow these steps:
- Tell yourself the situation: Recognize what you’re going through and why. Think of this as a check in with yourself. Are you feeling like an outsider because your stepkids don’t greet you when they get home? Do you feel invisible because they don’t look at you? Recognize what is happening in the situation and what triggered your pain or upset.
- Realize what you’re feeling: Name your feeling, consider it, and then accept it. You can identify your feeling by finishing the sentence “I feel…”In this case, you might be feeling lonely or left out. Give yourself a moment to consider how you’re feeling and then accept it.
- Uncover self-criticism: This is when you will show self-compassion and be kinder to yourself. Acknowledge that these are valid feelings, you’re in a difficult situation, and you’re doing the best you can. Don’t indulge in negative self-talk or beat yourself up, which will only result in more negative and bottled-up feelings. A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself. So, if you’re feeling alone, allow yourself to recognize your loneliness and realize that most people would be feeling exactly the same way.
- Try to understand yourself: This is an opportunity to connect your present pain to past events that created similar reactions. Have you been left out in other situations in the past? Have your stepchildren ignored you in the past? See if there is a connection with past events.
- Have the feeling: Let it move through you completely until it withers away. Allow yourself to feel and process negative feelings. If you allow yourself to process these negative feelings, you can work your way through them and let go.
After following the T-R-U-T-H Technique, I like to add another step, which is:
- Self-Reflection: After you give yourself time to process your feelings, think about what kind of action you can take or changes you can make for next time. You won’t always need to take action; sometimes you just need to process your feelings, but at least ask yourself if you need to make any changes.
You’ll need to pratice the T-R-U-T-H-(S) Technique on a regular basis to change how you’re processing your feelings. The next time you’re feeling upset because your stepchildren ignored you, or your husband’s ex is badmouthing you, take time to go through the steps. And above all, be kinder to yourself. You’re in a challenging role, and you’re doing the best you can!
Get Started with Stepmom Bootcamp
To discover other strategies that will help you in your stepmom role, check out Stepmom Bootcamp: A 21-Day Challenge. Stepmom Bootcamp has daily challenges that will transform your stepmom life. In fact, Day 4 is all about processing your feelings so you can let go. Get your copy and start today!