Do you ever wonder…who am I?
I am a daughter, sister, mother, partner, wife, student, or employee…but who am I beyond these roles? Does it ever feel like you are doing a million things at once but none of them well? Are you exhausted by incessant inner dialogue of not being good enough? Do you find yourself feeling guilty for thinking about your own wants? Do you feel ashamed of not enjoying motherhood or pregnancy? Are you tired of having to make sacrifices for the greater good of your family? Do you feel stagnant in your career/school/relationships, but terrified by change?
Women in today’s world are expected to be many things to many people, and it is often all too easy to lose sight of our own wants and needs. We receive messages from the media and loved ones that we must sacrifice ourselves for the sake of everyone else. Over time that routine comes at a price and we begin to feel overwhelmed, empty, or “not good enough.” This leaves us feeling sad, anxious, irritable, angry, or disconnected from our loved ones and ourselves.
How can we live up to our own, and others’ standards if we have no space for ourselves?
Women are faced with multiple decisions across their lifespan. We have to choose a career path, make sure we pick the “correct” major, decide if and when we want to get married, navigate dating and finding a partner, and ponder whether or not we want to pursue motherhood. During this journey some of us battle infertility while others of us struggle to decide whether to stay at home or return to work. Many of us end up being a caregiver to sick parents or family members. When these “normative” transitions do not go according to plan, it can be devastating. The pain of infertility, divorce, academic failure, or workplace struggles can feel overwhelming. Our culture does not properly equip women on how to navigate failures or to take a path that is different from what others consider to be “acceptable”. Our choices are rarely celebrated unless they align with more traditional expectations.
How can we hear our own voice, if everyone else’s voice is louder in our heads?
From the time we are born, we are socialized with messages about our bodies, our sexuality, our careers, and our partnering. Our very worth in life is often measured and defined by standards that our authentic selves do not even ascribe to. How can we live up to our own, and others’ standards if we have no space for ourselves? How do we find our way to our own wants and needs? How can we hear our own voice, if everyone else’s voice is louder in our heads? When we are disconnected from our authentic selves it impacts every part of our lives - our relationships, careers, and schooling.
Counseling for women can help.
Therapists who understand a woman’s unique perspective and the multitude of stressors that occur in her lifespan can help you not only navigate these transitions, but to approach them in a way that heals and empowers you. By creating a space that gives you permission to connect with your own needs and mourn the pain of previous losses you begin to heal. This is an intricate process. When our secret wants and hopes as well as our inner dialogue of shame and self-criticism are given space to breathe, our authentic selves can emerge.