We are all human and we all say and do things we later regret. I notice this the most with my mom clients who wish they could go back and change something. Well, now you can. Based in an understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I believe we can effect change in ourselves and in whatever ripple effect our actions back then took. I explain how in this episode.
Today, we are going to talk about a specific practice I recommend for when you want to blame yourself for being a bad mom. One thing I wanted to say before we really get into the meat of this episode is that this is not gospel.
This is my opinion, my own interpretation and application of what I believe, and that will become a little more obvious as we go through. This doesn’t come from any church authorities. This is not gospel. This is what I’m hoping has become a bit of a practice for me, and I hope it will help you as well.
This came up a couple of times this week in my coaching sessions, and so I’m always paying attention to similarities or themes that I notice because oftentimes those themes are really good information for podcasts. So I hope this is helpful for you. But if it’s not, just chuck it in the garbage.
I want to start with some kind of underlying principles that inform this practice before I kind of tell you what the practice is. And the first thing is is that we’re all human. We all do and say things that we later regret. It’s just part of the learning process, but I think we often say, “Well, that’s in the past, you can’t do it over.” And I think that’s wrong. I think we can do it over. And it is based in my belief about the atonement of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is not physically present with us, but he is spiritually present. And I personally don’t know exactly how that works. I don’t know how the atonement of Jesus Christ worked, and continues to work, but I believe that there are rules at play. Rules, so to speak, that I don’t yet understand specifically rules about time and energy. This idea of infinite and eternal. I am a non infinite, finite being. And so it’s really hard for me to wrap my mind around infinite and eternal.
And so this practice is related to how I practice and think about repentance, I think repentance is just a turning toward Christ, turning toward the Lord. It is an acknowledgement of where we fall short. And I believe that through repentance, we can be forgiven of our sins. When we do something that goes against what we believe or who we believe Jesus Christ to be, or who we believe God, the father to be, that is a sin, right?
And there are specific things, like if the commandment is: thou shalt not lie, and I lie, then that is a sin, right? Not because it’s an action that is objectively wrong, but because it separates me from the Lord. But I don’t think it just ends there. I think when someone repents of their own sins, I think of it as like getting erased, fully erased. Only the way God can do, but it’s not just their own sins. I think also the ripple effects from that particular sin also get forgiven. It would make sense to me of who I know God to be. I believe the atonement of Jesus Christ is individual and personal.
So in my mind, when he performed the atonement, somehow, time stood still and he was able to go back in time and forward in time and walk with each of us individually to know us, to be with us, to guide us, to take our burdens, all of that. And like I said, I don’t know how it works exactly. I think that time isn’t the way we think of it as linear.
I think it can be sped up and slowed down and twisted and turned. I don’t really know how it works, but I do know this idea of infinite and eternal and this idea of a personal atonement means that it can’t just be that he did some magical thing in the garden of Gethsemane 2000 years ago that is now affecting me.
I don’t know. It just doesn’t make sense to me that way. And so there’s a lot of unknown here, but it’s kind of like, I know that I don’t know. So when we- I’m going to just reiterate this point- when we turn to him, when we trust the Lord, when we ask him to make things right, I believe that is at least partially how we take advantage of the atonement of Jesus Christ.
So now I want to jump into this process that you can use when you think about times when you were a bad mom. I could have named this, you know, for when you regret something. But it felt to me that when we tell ourselves, “Oh, I was such a bad mom.” It has kind of a heavier feeling than when we say, “Yeah, I regret that.”
I could be wrong or that could just be me. But I titled this episode For When You Were a Bad Mom, because I hear it often. People reflecting back on times in their life when they wish they could make something different, when they wish they could show up differently, when they wish they could say something differently. And we generally believe that we can’t do it over, but with these ideas in mind, I think we can, and here’s how.
The first step is to remember the situation that you regret. Remember the situation that you would like to be different, but that it is in the past. And really give yourself some time to see it in detail in your mind, to feel what this feels like.
And the reason why I say this, is because it isn’t going to feel great, right? It’s to notice what exactly you regret, or would want to change and why.
That is going to help you with the next step, which is to recreate it in your mind, the way you would want it to have played out, if that makes sense. So use your imagination to see it and feel it in your mind in as much detail, the way that you would have wanted it to be.
Now that you’re older and wiser and have more understanding, and you’re a different person, now revisit this time in your mind and replay it, replay it. The new way be as specific as possible and address your specific concerns about what you regret and why.
Give it to the Lord
And number three is to give it over to the Lord. Ask him to make it right, partner with him. This is where we recognize that we can only do so much. And that there’s this mystery about who and how Jesus Christ is, that we don’t know, and we may never know. Trust in his infinite and eternalness and ask him to make it right for you. And then number four is for you to trust that he will. In many, many cases, this is going to be the hardest step because trust is a very non tangible thing.
It’s like, “Okay, I believe you will do this. I believe you’ve got this. I believe I don’t have to revisit it anymore.” Trust that he will make it right. And that when you do the work, because don’t get me wrong, this imaginary work can be very difficult, but when you do the work, it affects change through all generations of time and eternity.
So for those of you who have gone through the temple, this should be ringing some bells. If that’s true, if through the process of repentance, we are coming to Christ, we are turning toward him. We are feeling sorrow for the things that we did “wrong,” or fell short, or just didn’t know any better at the time.
We believe in the atonement of Jesus Christ. I believe that that changes things. It changes us and it affects the ripple of our decisions. So let me just use an example. When my oldest daughter was about 10 years old, we got into an argument. I got really upset and angry, and this was pre-Denita coaching days, before I knew that I had any agency over my thoughts and my feelings and how to take responsibility for my feelings and all of that stuff.
But I look back on this specific situation and it makes me cringe inside. We got into this argument and I got really upset at her and I yelled at her and I said leave. Just leave. And I sent my 10 year old out of my house. And I didn’t say “leave the house,” but that’s how she took it.
So she left the house, and went down into the green belt. I don’t know where she went. Almost immediately, within I want to say 15 seconds, I was like, “Oh no, I don’t actually want that.” But by that time she was gone. And I just had to be okay with that. I felt so bad later on. She came home and it was probably like an hour, hour and a half or something like that.
We spent a lot of time in the green belt together. She knew her way around. I wasn’t worried about her getting hurt or anything like that. I just felt so bad about yelling at her and telling her to leave. Later on that day she told me she was walking along and she climbed a tree, and then when she was sitting there in the tree, she saw a coyote and she got really scared, and so then she came home. I look back on the situation, which is probably a pretty common mom moment, right?
I mean, at this time, if she was around 10, then my other daughter was around seven, and my son was around five or six, and life was really full and I didn’t know how to manage my mind or my emotions. So I was very reactive and I still feel bad about it. It doesn’t have as much emotional charge, but if I was to go through these one, two, three, four steps, I would see that playing out in my mind.
I would see us yelling at each other, and me getting so upset and telling her to leave and then see her walking out the door and then me feeling bad and I would identify the exact thing that I would want to change. I would want to not scream at her and say, “leave, just leave.” I think instead I would want to put myself in a timeout.
So number one, I regret those specific words. And the reason why is because I feel like it, it sent a message that I didn’t want her around. And I never want to send that message.
So number two, I would recreate it in my mind in the way that I would have wanted it to play out. And one thing I will say here is, it’s not that you want it to play out where we’re all like peaceful and it’s perfect, right? I would probably still play this out where we get upset. I have no idea what we were even arguing about.
We would get upset, but I just would stop talking. Right before I said, “leave, just leave, just get out,” I probably would have just stopped, maybe gone to my room and closed the door and maybe like cry in my pillow, right?
That is probably how I would recreate that in my mind, because the part that I really regret are those specific words. So I would play everything else the same. Honoring that I’m still a fallen human person. But I would just recognize how angry that I was and, and then remove myself from the situation.
And then I would ask the Lord, please make this right. This is what I wish I would have done instead. Ask Him, “Can you step in here and lend me some strength, lend me some understanding. Can you just make this right?” That’s, those are the words that I always think of. Please just fix this.
And then I would exhale, relax, and trust that it’s done. Right in the moment that I desire it, which I believe is a righteous desire that I believe aligns with a more righteous part of myself, that when I go through that work and I see it. Because here’s the thing, is using our imagination for creation instead of destruction is hard. It’s really hard, I think.
And so I want to recognize that, but when we do that work, I feel like whatever lasting effect those words had on my daughter, had on myself, had on my other kids who witnessed that all of that is gone now, and I can just feel peace and I can just know that it is done. I don’t have to ever worry about that again.
So that is the process I recommend for when you feel like you were a bad mom, for when you have regrets, for when you wish you could go back and redo something. Do it.
- Remember the situation, see it in detail so that you know exactly what you regret and why.
- Recreate it in your mind the way you would now have it play out and be as specific as possible.
- Address your specific concerns about your regret and the reason, and then give it over to the Lord. Ask him to fix it, to make it right and trust that he will and trust that it’s done.
And you might have to revisit this over and over again. I’m not suggesting that each specific situation is like a one and done, like, “Oh, I feel better now. I don’t ever have to think about that.” If you continue to think about it and there’s still that tinge, then do it again and do it again and do it again until you feel some peace around it.
All right, that’s enough for now. And so are you. Right now I would love, love, love it if you would come and join presence between now and January 6th, 2024.
If you join presence, I am gifting you a bonus of six sessions. That is a private session every other month. That is super valuable. I am not going to be offering private coaching next year, I am going to be writing a book, so I’m going to be pouring a lot of my time and energy into that, which means that I need to make space in my schedule and I’ve decided to continue with presence and to serve people in that way, but to be really, really limited and picky with my one on one sessions.
So really in 2024, the only way to work with me one on one is to be in presence, to already be in presence and one on one sessions are part of that.
There’s some changes coming as well. The price for presence is going up February 1st. So now is the time, if you listen to this podcast and you like the podcast, presence is going to take it to a whole other level and it’s going to help you really practice and live the things that we say, not just listen to them, to actually put them into practice.
So I invite you to join presence. Now’s the time. Merry Christmas, happy birthday, whatever you are celebrating, happy Hanukkah, whatever it is for you, now is the time to gift yourself this gift. If this work resonates with you, if this podcast has been helpful for you, would you please take a minute to leave a rating or review or share it with a friend so others can find it.
Remember that I am a life coach, not a doctor or a psychologist. Any suggestions or advice mentioned in this podcast should not be a substitute for medical or mental health care.
Until next time, go be yourself and follow the spirit.