How often as women do we consider our own needs last? Forget about putting on our own oxygen mask. We are so busy taking care of others, both at home and at work, caring for ourselves is an afterthought. This is such a common theme for women that I dubbed this thinking the AFTER party!
I recently presented a workshop session for the Bloomington-Normal Chapter of the Association for Women in Communications where we explored this phenomenon in detail, “Stop Surviving and Start Thriving: 6 Steps for Creating Balance.” In the session we learned to apply my signature 6 step strategy to address the top communication challenges professional women face and explored resources resources to support the steps.
How much I can relate to those words, growing up with a mom whose thinking was far ahead of her time, yet whose married life followed a very traditional path. In her teenage years she was bright, energetic and a true renaissance woman who loved to break down barriers.
One month after she accepted my dad’s proposal she returned his platinum engagement ring to him for repair. Imagine…the platinum ring was no longer circular but nearly flattened. Evidently she wasn’t supposed to wear it while taking apart a car engine. Who knew? Certainly not my mom!
Once she and Dad married her maverick spirit began to conform. She had dinner on the table the moment my dad came in the door and greeted him with a smile, even though she hated the domestic life. No wonder I learned to stuff things at such a young age — a cowardice that would later cost me dearly when that lump in my throat physically manifested into thyroid cancer!
Okay, so that was a shameless play on words, but really, what are they thinking when they paint a hospital room gray? Gray is said to promote a staid mood, which according to Webster means, “marked by settled sedateness and often prim self-restraint : sober, grave.” Who in their right mind believes the terms sober and grave have any place in recovery?
Last week I received a most unexpected phone call from a friend who was desperately trying to support a loved one struggling with cancer. As a transitional life coach and cancer survivor, she looked to me for a way to somehow make things okay.
Isn’t it curious that our first instinct as women is to try and fix the problem – the female stress response, “tend-and-befriend?” I wonder if that response is fueled by a genuine caring or the discomfort we feel with suffering. I suppose the motivation depends upon the person. Honestly for me it was a little of both. Continue reading