I know a lot of superwomen. I am one of them. But I reject a common image of the superwoman.
It’s one of the super-juggler. You take care of the kids, partner, family and friends. You run the errands, try to work out and eat right. You puts 1000% effort into your job or business. You do it on your own! Independent! STRONG!
You also sacrifice sleep, your health, your diet and your mental well-being.
In this state, you are vulnerable to judgements:
• You’re not a good mother/wife/daughter/friend/boss/colleague. The list could go on!
• Is that what you’re eating?
• What’s wrong with you?
• That was a dumb move.
This is followed by punishment. Our cultivated inner voice that internalizes that judgement and goes to town.
The Cycle: Aim to achieve. Burn out/Melt down. Repeat.
I have been a walking advertisement of the generally accepted idea of superwoman and suffered for it. For a long time I tried to make it on my own. I was adamant not to ask for help. I chose a tough career: working to implement and reinforce women’s rights in armed conflict, post-conflict and tentative peace zones. Little value is put into this area. As a result people are under-paid, put in unsafe situations, left to fend for themselves and expected to endure long work hours and live in a constant state of hyper-vigilance. It’s not sustainable.
Whether you do the work I do or you have another career, all of us have been hard-wired to push ourselves to the extreme to be successful. We burn out, melt down or come close to both regularly.
Many of us feel that asking for help and accepting it when offered is a sign of weakness or defeat. Doing it on our own, regardless of the consequences, is widely seen as an achievement but asking for a time out to pause, reflect and recuperate is met with impatience and judgment:
How dare you take a break and attempt to sort your head from your butt?
Sure you can luv, but please make sure you still take care of (insert here the things and people you are still responsible for – essentially, yeah but no).
Say No to Kali on Crack!
I’m on a path to re-define Superwoman. I do so surrounding myself with equally strong, courageous women who are on the same path.
Today’s superwoman is someone who has the courage to create space for herself. She’s got the power to say no. She chooses to protect herself from compromising her emotional, mental and physical well-being. She doesn’t accept the status quo or blame others for where she is in life. She practices accepting and letting go. And it’s not bloody easy! It’s feckin’ hard! But the alternative is a Kali on crack!
Yep. I said it.
I was told once when I was in my early twenties: You don’t deserve happiness. You earn it.
I was gobsmacked. “Everyone deserves happiness!” I thought.
And now I know: Where you pour your energy will determine what you receive.
Today’s superwoman deserves love, acceptance, compassion and thanks – FROM HERSELF FIRST.
Today’s superwoman is curious. She asks the question why. And keeps asking it until she gets to the underlying reason of what keeps her stuck. With this knowledge she acts.
Today’s superwoman actively practices action balanced with rest. The pause and silence is where the answer will be revealed.
Today’s superwoman practices gratitude every day especially on those days that suck the hardest.
Today’s superwoman is the one who will, one moment and interaction at a time, make a positive difference in the world and contribute to making this world a peaceful one. And you don’t have to be working on women’s rights to do this! You, SUPERWOMAN, will cultivate love, acceptance, compassion and gratitude the more your practice it instead of anger, resentment and the “Why me?” narrative.
You can say I’m wrong. That’s fine. But I hope you have tried it. A good honest try like learning how to walk, falling down, picking yourself up and then practicing putting one foot in front of the other again. Repeat that cycle. Over and over again for as many years as you have practiced doing all the other things that has brought you to this point.
We have to unlearn practices that don’t serve us.
BE YOUR BEST FRIEND!
What I am proposing is tough. The challenge is to make you priority number one! To be your best friend. The desire for love, happiness, acceptance, wealth and stability cannot come from others. As blessed as I have been to have supportive friends and family, I realize now that investing in me brings about exactly what I want. Learning to be my best friend has resulted in more peace in my heart and a life I could never have fathomed and now treasure dearly. But bloody hell it’s been tough and it continues to be!
Life is not easy but it’s how you choose to go about life that either makes it tougher and hurts you or makes it a little easier. You end up with gifts that lift your heart and that you could never imagine.
Give yourself a break. Be your best friend. Choose to embody the new definition of superwoman.
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