Feeling Like A Failure

Years ago I did a fairly lengthy course of CBT.

The whys and wherefores are not important to this post but what is significant is that during one of the sessions we looked at what I held at the time as my core beliefs.  These are not to be mistaken with core values – principles that you hold dear and that guide you positively through life.  Core beliefs are central beliefs that people hold about themselves, others or the world around them.  They are usually negative in nature and if left unrecognised or unchallenged can be deeply restrictive and even toxic to the person’s wellbeing and enjoyment of life. 

One of my core beliefs was that I was a failure.  I think this is a fairly common belief for this type of session.  What quickly became apparent was that I couldn’t be persuaded to let go of this one, or the others that I had signed up to, very easily at all.

Feeling like a failure text on a grey sea background

However much evidence anyone gave me to the contrary I would argue against it.  All those years ago I had recently been promoted and when the therapist pointed this out I assured her that I was sure my boss would soon find out that a mistake had been made.  Today Amy Cuddy has coined the phrase ‘imposter syndrome’ and encourages us all to ‘fake it ’til we make it’ in her inspiring TED Talk.   I guess that feeling of being an imposter was what I was feeling then and is what I will always be susceptible to if I’m not careful.

That session was revelatory and little by little I began to challenge my core beliefs and they have lessened their hold over me over time.  Thankfully I rarely have such fiercely negative self-talk anymore.

Though I didn’t know it at the time a few years later mindfulness would begin to help me to keep a check on these poisonous core beliefs too.  Mindfulness helps me to recognise when that old adversary – the voice inside my head with ‘I’m a failure’ on repeat – is back. I can then make choices about what I would like to do about it.

Lately I have noticed an increase in volume of this old dominant core belief and I’ve observed that it’s often when I’m thinking about parenting.  The summer holidays shine a spotlight on my mummy skills (or lack of them).  I am no domestic goddess, I can’t do crafts to save my life, our household rarely has an undisturbed night’s sleep (that’s my fault for not ‘teaching’ my children how to sleep right?), our children are the ones who don’t sit still at a table in a restaurant (when out with me – I think they are impeccably behaved with our lovely nanny who we have for three days a week in term time), and there seems to be a lot of tears and tantrums.  I know that ‘thoughts are not necessarily facts‘ but it is sometimes a hard mantra to hold on to when you are feeling tired and run-ragged.

In all honesty I can, if I’m not careful, feel like I’m a bit of a failure when it comes to parenting.  I also realise that my part-time job as a teacher is good for my self-esteem.  So although it’s lovely not to be at work for six weeks and it’s great to spend so much time with the children, my self-esteem does take a bit of a hit.

It’s a relief to acknowledge this and just to ‘be’ with these feelings.

And anyway as I wrote here there is a lot more to motherhood than a tidy house and impeccably behaved children.  Among the hullabaloo and the mess in our home there are plenty of hugs, kisses, smiles and laughter.

I suppose I mustn’t feel too much of a failure then, and in reality, with the help of the mindfulness techniques I have developed over the years, these feelings are fleeting and much less powerful then they once were.


Two Tiny Hands

Lucy At Home


  1. August 1, 2017 / 10:59 pm

    You’re not a failure at all, don’t think that, think about what you have achieved and how well you’re doing. I know it’s easy to think that we are failing at being a Mum or at work, and it’s hard to see the positives through a haze of being Mum and having children, I know I felt that way. But you’re not a failure at all, you’ve done so much. Claire x

    • onamindfulmummymission
      August 2, 2017 / 1:47 pm

      Awwww thanks lovely for the pep talk. That’s v sweet of you. xx

  2. August 2, 2017 / 6:52 am

    Hugs, kisses, smiles and laughter is a good sign that you’re doing well. It’s hard to silence that inner voice sometimes though even when you know that what it is saying just isn’t true. #familyfunlinky

    • onamindfulmummymission
      August 2, 2017 / 1:46 pm

      Thank you xx

  3. August 2, 2017 / 7:03 am

    I think it’s easy to fall into the failure trap, especially with social media, which gives us the opportunity to compare ourselves to others on a daily basis. But you’re right – there’s more to parenting than a clean house or perfect crafts, and it helps to remind ourselves of that sometimes. #FamilyFunLinky

    • onamindfulmummymission
      August 2, 2017 / 1:46 pm

      Yes it certainly does – writing a post like this is always very cathartic for me! xx

  4. August 2, 2017 / 8:06 am

    hello there, I am a part time teacher (omg going back full time in Sept) with a family (although mine are teens now). I find the whole juggling thing a nightmare and mindfulness really helps me focus on the moment. Falling into “I’m failing” mode doesn’t do anyone any good and I definitely get like that when I’m stressed. Enjoy your 6 weeks with your little ones…you are doing a good job. Its needs to be your mantra! Good luck. #familyfun

    • onamindfulmummymission
      August 2, 2017 / 1:45 pm

      Awww thank you that’s very sweet of you. Good luck with the return to full-time in Sept. Eek! xx

  5. twotinyhands
    August 2, 2017 / 8:17 pm

    Oh Hayley. You are not a failure at all. I think you’ve put good coping mechanisms in place and using mindfulness to acknowledge a resurface of feeling a failure is definitely a good thing so you can run with it. I think I am always going to find the 6 weeks holiday hard.. I look after Robert everyday anyway and do a pretty good job but there is something about tbe 6 weeks of different routine that just makes things difficult and hard work!! My point maybe is that 24 hour child care does chip away at the soul!! Lol. Keep up the good work! ‪Thank you for linking up to the #familyfunlinky‬

    • onamindfulmummymission
      August 2, 2017 / 9:12 pm

      Thanks so much Karen for the lovely comment. Wise words xx

  6. mammaprada
    August 4, 2017 / 8:52 am

    I think most of us feel this way, especially in the summer holidays. I find there is a lot of pressure to take them on amazing days out and trips all the time. Sometimes it is just draining and we all need to recharge. Us mums don’t often if at all get to do that. So I think we are justified in not doing things perfectly. There’s no failure there. Everyone is happy, healthy and loved. #blogcrush xx

    • onamindfulmummymission
      August 13, 2017 / 9:28 pm

      The summer holidays can be tricky, yes. Thanks for the comment xx

  7. August 4, 2017 / 6:43 pm

    So good to see someone else voice exactly how i feel. The sense of failure weighs me down now and then and mindfulness has been a lifesaver. Great to know uv found good coping mechanisms too and looks like ur doing a fab job! #BlogCrush

    • onamindfulmummymission
      August 13, 2017 / 9:27 pm

      Thanks so much for the lovely comment – so nice to hear you’ve found mindfulness helpful too. xx

  8. August 4, 2017 / 7:06 pm

    You are not alone when it comes to thinking of yourself as a failure occasionally. I am prone to thinking that I am too sometimes. Mindfulness is a great technique for just letting us be in the moment and realising that we are achieving more than we think sometimes. #familyfun

    • onamindfulmummymission
      August 13, 2017 / 9:26 pm

      Yes so lovely that you are an advocate of mindfulness too Helena. And you are most definitely not a failure xx

  9. August 7, 2017 / 10:26 pm

    This sounds so familiar. I can easily explain any “achievements” away and have this constant feeling that everyone else has some insider knowledge or expertise that I don’t. It’s great to hear how mindfulness has helped you to retrain your thinking, though, and it’s something I am working on to #blogcrush

    • onamindfulmummymission
      August 13, 2017 / 9:25 pm

      It’s great you are working on it too Lucy. Take care xx

  10. susielhawes
    August 8, 2017 / 8:54 pm

    Ah I think we all have days where we feel like this. I did today for not feeling like I was a good enough mum, tired and bored and fed up. I know I’ve asked before but where do I start with leaning mindfulness? Book/app/website? I’ll email you… when I get a sec! Xx #FamilyFun

    • onamindfulmummymission
      August 13, 2017 / 9:20 pm

      Awww yes email me – but the frantic world book by Williams and Penman is a great starting point xx

      • susielhawes
        August 13, 2017 / 9:36 pm

        Ah thanks Hun, have saved this so will have a look online. Xx

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