Finding Your Footing

By: Rick Hanson, Ph.D. and Jan Hanson, L.Ac.

Obviously I know what I'm supposed to be doing hour to hour in a day, but in terms of the big picture, I feel like everything got turned kind of upside down since I became a mom, like where I was headed in life -- and this has all gotten more confusing since I went back to work . . .

It's really natural to feel pulled in a million directions when you're a mother. And, unfortunately, some important goals or needs of yours can get pushed to the back burner indefinitely.

To deal with this, it helps a lot to have some sense of your guiding purposes and priorities. This is not lofty and abstract, but a practical, daily matter; it's like having a roadmap for your life: then you know where you are headed.

OK, so first things first: Are you for yourself or not? It may seem like a dumb, obvious question, but actually many people have a hard time seriously getting on their own side, so that they feel mobilized to reduce their suffering and increase their happiness. Here are some quick methods:

When you're for yourself, you want to support the virtues and priorities that lead to a good life, and contribute mightily to others.

Regarding virtues:

After getting clear about these, think about what would help you live more by each one. Then see if you can make a commitment to doing that. For real.

Regarding priorities:

To be blunt, we generally end up where we've been heading. So it's vital to head in good directions, and keep telling the truth to ourselves about whether we're still actually on course. Then we have the best possible odds of ending up with the family, the children, the marriage, the life that we deeply want and long for.

Rick Hanson, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, Jan Hanson, M.S., L.Ac., is an acupuncturist/nutritionist, and they are raising a daughter and son, ages 14 and 17. With Ricki Pollycove, M.D., they are the first and second authors of Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships, published by Penguin. You can see their website at or email them with questions or comments at; unfortunately, a personal reply may not always be possible.

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