Shattering the Glass Ceiling to Your Well-being:
Why is Self-care so Hard for Us Women and The Only Way Out is the Way Through
Have you ever told yourself you’ll focus on prioritizing your needs “when you have time”?
- when the children are taken care of …
- when the house is cleaned up …
- when all work (read expectations) of the day is done …
- when you reached financial security …
- Or perhaps only when you have a breakdown, prioritizing your needs may feel ‘acceptable’ … and frankly, your only option?
This used to be me … never prioritizing me. Thankfully, I have learned a healthier way, only because I had to ;-):
We need to stop thinking of self-care as a reward.
Just like brushing your teeth, it is essential maintenance for your well-being.
Our conditioning can be insidious and show up in so many ways …
For many women, being conditioned that self-sacrifice is our highest virtue, guilt is a steady companion. Our culture normalizes and applauds self-sacrifice, with many of us juggling business, children, a household, without respite … often wearing exhaustion and burnout as a badge of honour.
Have you ever felt guilty or ashamed for relaxing since you could be doing something productive instead?
A few root causes to the chronical stress experienced by women
Chronic stress comes at a high cost … of dreams … intimacy … relationships … health.
A never-ending to-do list and putting everyone else’s needs above ours have become pathological.
I am here to tell you that this isn’t your fault!
The root causes for women so often relentlessly acting out the martyr archetype are multidimensional and rooted in our culture. I won’t go into depth as there are plenty of wonderful books about this subject, but I am just sharing a few thoughts here to plant a seed.
Dr. Valerie Rein explains in her book “Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Inner Barrier to Women’s Happiness and Fulfillment” why so many women are stuck on this hamster wheel of proving their worth. One of the unsettling statements in her book that gave me goosebumps and stayed with me is the following:
“Women’s empowerment has gotten hijacked by the patriarchal overculture and became about giving a woman the “opportunity” to burn herself out by working harder and doing more while playing by the patriarchal rules. They used to burn us at the stake—now they just hand us the torches.”
Both implicit and explicit messages interwoven in our culture and upbringing in our families of origin passed down the generations have made us believe that self-sacrifice is providing us worth.
Instead, it’s delivering grief, sadness, and resentment.
A cycle that is slowly being broken with more and more women waking up.
In addition, our society has compartmentalized health and well-being, separating the mind from the body. So many of us have become disconnected from their bodies seeing them merely as tools while disregarding its needs and missing the abundance of wisdom our body is providing us through senses and emotions. And when our body says “no” and we get sick, we are used to treating symptoms by popping pills, without looking at underlying root-causes.
A Return to Wholeness
The emerging field of science Psycho-Neuro-Endocrine-Immunology (P.N.E.I.) is confirming what ancient cultures have always known; We are whole beings and our emotions, thoughts, beliefs (conscious and subconscious) are intimately interwoven with and directly impact our physical health.
PNEI is a mouth full but in essence, it’s a field of research studying the way the mind and body communicate together, the interactions between psychological processes, the nervous system, endocrine system, and immune system, as well as the impact of these communications on our physical health.
Self-care = taking care of my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health
which allows me to be the best person I can be for myself
which in turn allows me to be the best person I can be for others.
This is why I prioritize self-care.
Self-care is an integral part of living a joyful and fulfilling life.
It is not a reward.
As a result of my own conditioning, I lived my life for decades from this lie … until my health crashed and I was forced to take care of myself and was invited to dig deeper.
Self-caring is a blend of un-learning and learning
My own life experience and many years of studying mindfulness, transpersonal psychology, energy medicine, neuroscience, and nutrition, led me to find another way.
It all starts by learning “self-caring”.
Self-caring is a discipline, a mindset, a commitment to yourself every. single. day.
Self-caring is loving-kindness to yourself and gentle compassionate self-acceptance and meeting yourself and all parts of you (yes, including the shadow parts) as you would meet a dear friend or a young child.
Self-caring is hard due to the outdated record that is so often still playing in our heads, especially if the harsh judgmental voice has been dominant for many years. This ruthless voice has made so many of us believe to just suck it up leading so many down the road of feeling a failure, not ever feeling good enough.
Without self-caring, self-care becomes a band-aid or an escape vs an integral part of your life.
Self-caring requires us to increase awareness of our thoughts, inner bully and relentless demands for perfection and learn to extend kindness to ourselves. It requires us to be with our emotions with compassion, self-acceptance and curiosity vs judgment.
Self-caring = befriending yourself
A combination of un-learning conditioned responses AND learning skills that serve your highest good.
- Un-learning and integrating patterns of conditioning, subconscious limiting beliefs, and emotions;
- Learning to interrupt stress cycles and hardwiring the skills to tap into inner peace and joy into your nervous system and DNA, listen to your heart and take conscious action: do things that light you up and work towards your dreams – every single day, even if only one baby step at a time.
Your important work in the world does not need to come at the expense of you, your health and your well-being.
There is another way, your way.
Today I leave you with two questions for reflection:
- What story are you telling yourself that prevents you from prioritizing self-care?
- What lights up and nourishes your heart? Are you doing this?