Good-Bye, Superwoman!

June 10, 2008 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Superwoman Complex | 1 Comment
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Many years ago I recall a wise friend asking me, “Why do you think you have to take care of the whole world?” At the time I wasn’t sure how to answer but now — after several decades of processing — I understand the roots of my Superwoman complex and consciously practice a few key techniques to decrease her influence in my life. You might find these helpful, too, if you’re beating your head against the wall, multi-tasking like crazy and trying to do everything yourself.

* Reflect on whether you’re playing the role of Superwoman. If you’re not sure or if you’re prone to minimizing how much you actually do, ask your closest family members and friends for their ruthlessly honest opinions. Decide ahead of time that when you ask them, you’re going to believe them

* Examine the reasons behind your Superwoman tendencies. You may want to consider engaging a counselor or coach to support this exploration.

* Recognize that there’s great strength in being able to rely on others who are trustworthy. Having needs is not necessarily the same as being needy and clingy. Understanding your needs and then expressing them to people who know you well lets them have an opportunity to care for you. Sharing your needs actually lets others feel valuable and gives them a chance to love you

* Accept that you are not all-knowing and all-powerful in every aspect of life. For example, your husband or partner may actually be a better bargain-shopper than you and, as a bonus, he may genuinely enjoy it! And in the professional world, even though team development may be part of your job description, your colleague may be infinitely more gifted than you in being the consensus-builder for your department

* Delegate some of your responsibilities to others. At home, ask other family members for help or hire out specific jobs. If possible, try to release a few tasks; stop doing them altogether or cut back on their frequency. On the job, dialogue with your colleagues about your strengths as well as their’s and determine if some projects can be reallocated.

* Plan the multiple ways you’re going to relish the added free time and peace of mind you discover when you kiss Superwoman good-bye!

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No shame in being afraid

June 4, 2008 at 7:28 pm | Posted in Fear | 3 Comments
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“It is no accident that all of the world’s wisdom traditions address the fact of fear, for all of them originated in the human struggle to overcome this ancient enemy. And all these traditions, despite their great diversity, unite in one exhortation to those who walk in their ways: ‘Be not afraid.’

. . . [this phrase] ‘Be not afraid’ does not mean we cannot have fear. Everyone has fear . . . the words say we do not need to be the fear we have . . . ” (Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer, pp. 93-94)

Palmer’s right, we all have fear . . . and often it shows up around unfamiliar experiences or change of any kind — taking a new job, exploring a new relationship or giving up an old one, learning an unpleasant truth about ourselves, negotiating an unexpected turn in a conversation, making a major decision. The anger, confusion, and anxiety we can feel about any of these processes is real and can really scramble our perceptions.

It’s very important for us to give ourselves permission to be afraid while understanding that we don’t have to be the fear.

There’s no shame in being afraid. It doesn’t have to control and limit our thoughts and actions. We have a choice — we can elect to hold on to fear, often in silence, and let it gain growing power over us. Or we can opt to process the fear internally or face it with someone we trust and, hopefully, let it go.

If you’re challenged by a specific fear just now, I hope you’re giving yourself space to learn from it . . . and that you have an emotionally safe place to explore and release it.

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