Know Better, Do Better Guilt

In today's world, we are inundated with information. Whether it be about parenting, cooking, art projects, gardening…the world is quite literally at our fingertips thanks to Google. 

The result is that we often feel like, if the information is available to us, we should consume it. And we should be able to put it into action. If you saw a meme online with 10 things you should say to your kids (I use this example because I have this list). Well, you read it, and it makes sense that you should go put it into practice. 

Right?

The truth is, that's not always the case. When we learn new things and fail to put those new things into action, we can feel a lot of guilt. I call this "Know Better, Do Better guilt"

And it's something we feel more and more in this age of information overload. Today we will talk about recognizing this guilt, appreciating when you're making baby steps, and knowing when you need to lay off on the "available resources."

I distinctly remember when I first felt a tinge of know better, do better guilt. I was 21 years old, living in Washington, DC, just starting my Master's Degree. This was 15 years ago. I walked into the University library and looked up. I felt like the books were going to swallow me whole. It was sudden onset. All I could think was,

"There is SO much that I don't know"

At that time, we still went to the library to get books and information. Before the internet, we had to put in a lot of effort to locate new knowledge. Everything was not at our fingertips. There were no podcasts or and audiobooks weren't really a thing. 

We consumed less media, less content, and just less information in general. As a result, we also didn't feel like we were on the hook to learn everything, know everything, and do everything better. 

Fast forward to today. We often expect ourselves to be jacks of all trades. 

Let's talk about how this applies to parenting, specifically. There are thousands of "parent experts" dishing out information. I am no exception to this. If you go on Instagram, you can find no shortage of lists of "Do's and Don'ts," "What to say and what not to say," "How to stay calm." It's all there in plain English. It should be easy to apply. Right?

The truth is, even though parenting is often considering to be "common sense" a lot of this stuff you see online is deeply rooted is psychology theories and educational perspectives. Things that are not common sense. These are disciplines that require years of study. 

Let's say I followed an accountant on Instagram and see a list of "10 Tips for Doing My Taxes Better." Should I read this list and then automatically be able to do my taxes better? 

No. 

Would I think to myself: Gosh, I read this list and I SHOULD be able to execute this. Why can't I figure this stuff out? Why am I so confused by my taxes? Why does this feel so hard? 

Would I have Know Better, Do Better guilt about taxes? No. Because I have zero training in tax law, accounting, or really anything number related. So I have to give myself lots of grace when I'm learning this stuff. 

Just ask my accountant. He has to explain things to me over AND over again. And sometimes, I still don't get it. And I often struggle to apply it in practice, even though I've been told what I'm supposed to do. 

Tips are useful and can be very helpful. But if you don't internalize everything and apply it exactly as told…you aren't lacking. You shouldn't have "Know Better, Do Better guilt". 

You are still learning. 

When it comes to learning about parenting, if you find yourself thinking:

  • If only I was more disciplined. 
  • If only I tried harder. 
  • If only I was more patient.
  • If only I could focus. 

Then you might have Know Better, Do Better Guilt. 

I see bits of this guilt in cooking and craft activities too. There are a bazillion cooking videos and recipes online; why can I just figure out how to make better, gourmet food every day? Or, there are thousands of easy crafts and activities for kids on Pinterest; why can't I ever get my act together and do them?

I want you to let go of your guilt by better understanding your intuition bucket. 

What is intuition? Intuition is the ability to use knowledge without conscious reasoning. That means you often don't know where it came from or even that you are using it. 

So what is your intuition bucket? 

Imagine right now you have a bucket in front of you. In that bucket is all your life experiences, all the books you've ever read, all the podcasts you've ever listened too. It's all stirred up in there, so you can't see the contents clearly. But no doubt, it's there even if you don't remember it. 

So when you act, or make decisions, you constantly pull from this bucket. This is your intuition. Maybe you read a book 10 years ago and you completely forget what you read, chances are even though that book isn't in your conscious memory, there are pieces of it that you internalized and have become mixed into your bucket. That time you spent on the book is not lost; you just filed away a few things VERY deep. And those things you file away may impact that way you act and make decisions today even if you don't realize it. 

So if you feel guilty that you learn all this stuff and struggle to put it into practice, know that you are making more progress than you know. Your intuition is pulling relevant pieces and filing them away for you. As a result, you do know a little bit better, and you are doing a little bit better all the time

But it will rarely be so crystal clear. 

You will rarely high-five yourself and say "Oh I used that tip I learned on Instagram, I'm totally nailing this parenting thing" 

Change and progress are gradual. And often you need repeated exposure. I have this list of "10 Simple Things I Say to My Kids." I will guarantee that 90% of the people that have read this don't use a single thing. But the other 10% follow me closely on Instagram and on the podcast. They will hear me using these ten expressions over and over again. And these people do message me telling me how helpful that they were and what a difference they are making. 

Why is this? Repetition. Practice. Hearing multiple examples of the same concept. 

So my advice to you is to find a few parenting concepts things that resonate with you and you really connect to and practice them over and over again. Hearing something once will rarely sink in. So don't try to read and learn everything, instead focus on taking in a few simple concepts and really mastering them. 

This might mean unfollowing parenting experts (maybe even me) who you feel inundated you with information and inadvertently make you feel like you are failing. 

Lastly, recognize that sometimes your brain just needs a break. Sometimes you don't need to acquire new knowledge; you just need to sit with what you already have and contemplate. Perhaps, revisiting old resources. Listening to podcast episodes that you connected with in the past, re-reading books you thought were great. Give yourself grace. I know I have taken months and months off podcasts and audiobooks for this reason. I felt like my brain needed some quiet. Not every second of my day...washing dishes, folding laundry, etc...needs to be filled with new information. 

We are allowed to rest our bodies AND brains. 

Not only are we allowed, but we should. 

Happy new year at the beginning of a new year, we often feel a refreshed sense of motivation to tackle something new. And in today's world, we are inundated with information, whether it be about parenting, cooking, art projects, gardening, the world is quite literally at our fingertips. Thanks to Google. The result is that we often feel like if the information is available to us, that we should consume it and we should be able to put it into action. If you saw a meme online with 10 things that you should say to your kids, I use this example because I have this list. Well, you read that list and it makes sense to you.

So you should be able to go and put those 10 things into practice, right? The truth is that's not always the case. When we learn new things and fail to put those new things into action, we can feel guilt. I call this know better, do better guilt, just because we know better. We expect that we're going to do better and that's not always the case. And I think that this is something that we feel more and more in this age of information overload. So today we're going to talk about recognizing this guilt appreciating when you're making baby steps and knowing when you need to lay off all of the quote unquote, available resources.

Hi, this is Denaye. I'm the founder of Simple Families. Simple Families is an online community for parents who are seeking a simpler more intentional life. In this show, we focus on minimalism with kids, positive parenting, family wellness, and decreasing the mental load. My perspectives are based in my firsthand experience, raising kids, but also rooted in my PhD in child development. So you're going to hear conversations that are based in research, but more importantly, real life. Thanks for joining us.

Hi there. I, first of all, want to think Prep Dish for sponsoring today's podcast. And I actually think prep dish ties very well into what we're about to discuss. If you're anything like me, you can feel overwhelmed and get decision fatigue. The amount of available resources when it comes to cooking, there are no shortage of videos on how to cook recipes on what to cook. But since I started using Prep Dish, I haven't felt any of that. I love having a curated list of recipes sent to me each week and even more the specifics on how to prep things in advance. So when it comes time to serving them on dish day, life feels so much lighter. If you want to give it a try, go to prepdish.com/families. Again, go to prepdish.com/families for two weeks free. I encourage you to give it a try. If you're anything like me, you might be surprised at how much weight this can take off your weekly load back to today's episode. I distinctly remember when I felt this first tinge of no better do better guilt.

I was 21 years old and I was living in Washington, DC. I was just starting my master's degree. This was like 15 years ago. And I walked into the university library and I looked around and I had been in libraries many times before, but for some reason, the books suddenly felt like they were going to swallow me whole. All I could think was there is so much that I don't know. And all of those books that I was looking at that I hadn't read and probably would never read, represented all of that information that I didn't know and probably would never know. And at that time we still went to the library. That's where we got books and information in a time before the internet, we had to put a lot of effort in to locate new knowledge. Everything was not at our fingertips. There were not podcasts on every topic imaginable, audio books.

Weren't really a thing. You certainly didn't have them on your phone, carrying them around with you listening while you were doing your laundry and washing your dishes. It was a time where we consumed less media, less content, and just less of everything in general, as a result, we also didn't feel like we were on the hook to learn everything and to know everything and to do everything better. I knew I was never going to read all those books and I never even aspired to, but fast forward to today, we often expect ourselves to be jacks of all trades. Let's talk about how this applies to parenting. Specifically. There are thousands of quote, unquote, parent experts out there dishing out information. I am no exception to this. If you go on Instagram, you can find no shortage of lists of do's. And don'ts what to say. What not to say, how to stay calm. It's all there, plain English. It should be easy to apply, right? So it seems, but the truth is even though parenting is considered to be common sense. A lot of the stuff that you see online and read in books is deeply rooted in psychology theories and educational perspectives. Things that are not common sense. These are disciplines that require years of study. Here's an example. Let's say I followed an accountant on Instagram and she had a list of 10 tips for doing my taxes better.

In theory, I should be able to read this list and automatically be able to do my taxes better. Right wrong. Now, after reading this list, I would make very little improvement because I know nothing about tax law. I know nothing about accounting or really anything number related would I think to myself, gosh, I read this list. I should be able to execute this. I can't. I figure this stuff out. Why am I so confused by my taxes? Why does this feel so hard? Would I have no better do better guilt about taxes? No, because I give myself lots of grace because it's all new to me. I have no background in this. Just ask my accountant. He literally has to explain things to me over and over again. And sometimes I still don't get it. Sometimes I just nod my head and smile, pretending like I get it because I've asked so many times that I'm embarrassed. I don't get it. And even if I kind of get it, I struggle to apply it in practice. Even though I've been told what I'm supposed to do.

So tips are good and they can be very helpful. But if you don't internalize everything and apply it exactly as told you, aren't lacking, you shouldn't have quote unquote know better, do better guilt. You are still learning when it comes to learning about parenting. If you find yourself thinking if only I was more disciplined, if only I tried harder, if only I was more patient, if only I could focus, then you might have no better do better guilt. Personally, I find bits of this guilt coming up in other areas to look at cooking. For example, there are a bazillion cooking videos and recipes online. Why can't we all just figure out how to make better beautiful gourmet food every day? There are at least thousands of easy crafts and activities for kids on Pinterest, Instagram, you name it. So why can't I ever get my act together and do them?

It seems so simple in theory, but execution is often harder and you're not alone in that. Everything you read, everything you listen to, doesn't need to be replicated. Exactly. And I want you to let go of this guilt by better understanding what I like to think of as your intuition bucket. Now, first of all, what is intuition? Intuition is the ability to use knowledge that's in your head without consciously reasoning it. So it just comes to you naturally. You often don't know where it came from, and sometimes you don't even know that you're using it.

That's intuition. It just seems to reside somewhere inside of you. So what is your intuition bucket? Imagine you have a bucket in front of you right now. So in this bucket is your intuition. It's all of your life experiences, all the books that you've ever read, all the podcasts that you've ever listened to, it's all stirred up in there. So you can't really see the contents clearly, but no doubt it's in there, even if you don't remember it. Exactly. So when you act or make decisions, you constantly pull from this bucket. This is your intuition.

Maybe you read a book 10 years ago and you completely forgot what you read. Chances are that, even though this book isn't in your conscious memory, there are pieces of it that you have internalized that have become mixed up in your intuition bucket. That time you spent reading that book is not lost. Your brain just filed a few things away, very deep. And those things you file away may have actually impacted the way that you act and make decisions today. Even if you don't realize it. So if you feel guilty that you learn all this stuff and you struggle to put it into practice, know that you're actually probably making more progress than, you know, your intuition is pulling relevant pieces and filing them away for you. As a result, you do know a little bit better and you do do a little bit better all the time, but rarely will it ever be.

So crystal clear, you will rarely high-five yourself and say, Oh, I use that tip. I learned on Instagram and I'm totally nailing this parenting thing. No, usually it doesn't happen like that change and progress is gradual. And because it is, we often don't give ourselves credit and we don't recognize it. Now, I don't want to undermine the value that you can take away by learning new content and learning new information. But I want you to recognize that often you need repeated exposure. So I have this list that I mentioned earlier called the 10 simple things that I say to my kids. You can get the list at simplefamilies.com/simple-sayings. Now I'll be straight with you and guarantee you that 90% of the people who read this list will never use a single thing, but the other 10%, they follow me closely on Instagram and they listen to the podcast religiously and they hear me using these 10 expressions over and over again.

And these are the people that messaged me telling me how helpful that these 10 expressions are and what a difference that they're making. So why are some people able to apply these things and others? Aren't repetition practice, hearing multiple examples of the same concept. So my advice to you is to find a few parenting concepts or experts that really resonate with you and you really connect to, and then practice them over and over again, hearing something once, sometimes allows things to seep into your unconscious, but our brains benefit from repetition. So don't try to read and learn everything instead, focus on taking in a few simple and really mastering them. And then trust that your brain and your intuition, or working their magic and filing away important bits and pieces that you might need later. So maybe, you need to unfollow some parenting experts.

Maybe even me, if you find people online, who you feel like are inundating you with information and inadvertently it ends up making you feel like you're failing than they or me might be doing you more harm than good. But lastly, I want you to recognize that sometimes your brain just needs a break. Sometimes you don't need to acquire new knowledge. You just need to sit with what you already have and contemplate that, maybe revisiting old resources, listening to podcast episodes that you can acted with. Rereading books that you thought were great. Give yourself grace. I know that I have taken months and months off podcasts and audio books. For this reason, I felt like my brain needed some quiet, not every second of my day, washing dishes, folding laundry, et cetera, needs to be filled with new information. We are allowed to rest our bodies and brains. And not only are we allowed, we should. I hope you found this episode helpful today. If you have enjoyed it and make sure you take a screenshot of yourself, listening to it and post it up to your Instagram stories and tag me. And if you're taking on new things and motivated by a fresh start in the new year, give yourself lots of grace because you're doing so much better than you were already know. Thanks for tuning in and have a good one.

Denaye Barahona

Dr. Denaye Barahona is a loving wife and mama of two. She partners with families to tackle the challenges of raising children. Denaye is a minimalist who claims to be a decluttering expert (don't let her near your closet). She loves to travel, talk health-and-wellness, and give unsolicited advice. She has been featured on the likes of The Today Show, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, The Minimalists, Motherly, Becoming Minimalist, and numerous other media outlets. Denaye holds a Ph.D. in Child Development and is a Clinical Social Worker with a specialty in child and family practice.