I don’t pose that question lightly. It is a topic worthy of our thought, our discussion. It is a reality that demands to be paid attention to.
We rush to the hospital to give birth to our precious babies who quickly become the center of our worlds. They are carefully looked over and checked up on with appointment after appointment. All the weight checks, the shots, the checking to make sure their hearts sound well, their joints are developing correctly, it goes on and on..and for good reason. These are our babies and they are small and tiny, and oh so new to this world. We should be paying attention to their health and their development but what about moms?
Moms are sent home from the hospital after just going through a major life transformation with some guidelines, maybe a painkiller or two, and in many cases a few stitches. They aren’t followed up with. They are supposed to figure it out. It is their God-given ability to be a mother, so they should just know how to do it, right? Society expects that mom will seamlessly adjust. She will adjust to this new normal with little help. Yea, it won’t be easy but she will get through. The only follow-up she has to look forward to is six-to-eight weeks postpartum when in many cases her incisions are looked over and she is sent on her way.
There is no depression screening, no required well check, no one helping mom adjust. Mothers need to be ok too. After all, happy mothers raise happy children. It is hard to care for anyone if you don’t first care for yourself. Let’s check in with our mothers. Ask if they are ok. Make sure they are ok. Let’s listen to our mothers, hear their cries for help and honor their need for support even when they themselves might not realize how much they need it. It takes a village to raise a child, that is for sure. We can’t expect a mother just because she has a uterus to suddenly be thrown into a whole new world like nothing ever happened. It is a shock to the system. She deserves support and she needs it.
Over the years I have seen an increase in women coming to me with symptoms of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. Many of them are concerned they may have ADHD and are looking for a solution. It got me thinking. Why are we seeing such an increase? What has changed to cause more women to experience symptoms of ADHD?
Our reality as women has changed. We are busier than ever before while still facing the pressures of traditional gender roles. We are still expected to take care of our homes and meals. Many women now have taken on professional careers outside of the home environment adding to the mounting pressure. We are worried more than ever—about everything. Not to mention we are constantly in a state of comparing ourselves to others with the rise of social media and smart devices. Those women who choose to stay home struggle with feeling stir crazy and unfulfilled. We are easily distracted.
All of the stress modern-day women are struggling with is causing them to lose sleep. They are staying up to later hours trying to get everything done. They are feeling the pressure to be the Pinterest mom or the perfect housewife/cook but also the career woman. Research shows that lack of sleep could be exactly what is contributing to symptoms of ADHD.
The disruption of day and night rhythms, staying up later, eating at different times, variations in body temperature and physical movement, all of it can contribute to inattentiveness and challenging behavior, according to research done at the Vrije Universitiet Medical Centre in Amsterdam. This research also showed that people with ADHD had a rise in the hormone melatonin an hour-and-a-half later in the day than those who did not, contributing to that lack of sleep. All of this pointing to the reality that ADHD might actually be a sleep disorder.
Similar studies have also found that those with ADHD had higher rates of daytime sleepiness than those without, making it harder to focus. Other symptoms such as restless legs syndrome and periodic leg movement are also common in those suffering from ADHD, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
The bottom line is we are overwhelmed, overworked, and exhausted. We aren’t sleeping as much and therefore we are finding it difficult to focus. If you are someone who is struggling with symptoms of ADHD, it may be helpful to seek out a licensed professional who is trained in helping adults.
Many of us are so afraid of judgment. We find ourselves covering up, hiding to avoid it. Some of us even change who we are. We pretend we are someone else. We lie about actions we have taken. We are afraid. But why? Why are we so terrified of how other people see us?
We mistake it as a truth about our identity. We let what other people say about us become us. We put too much weight in other people’s opinions. We give them too much power over how we see ourselves. We act like people and their thoughts about us determine who we really are. That is not the case. We can choose to see judgments simply for what they are—an opinion. Just because it is an opinion doesn’t mean it is true. Opinions are simply thoughts, they don’t have to mean anything.
That is not to say we shouldn’t listen to others. If a lot of people we care about come to us with the same opinion about our behavior then it is worth considering what they have to say. It is worth opening your mind to their opinions and analyzing them for yourself. They could be trying to tell you something that maybe you didn’t notice. Or, it could be something you have noticed but have brushed off.
The bottom line is all opinions should be taken in stride.
Don’t worry about the things you cannot control. People are always going to judge you. People are always going to have an opinion about the color of your hair, that outfit, how much food you eat, what time you put your kids to bed, how you spend your Saturday night, etc. Let it go. You could drown in judgments if you let them weigh on you. They are all around you. The best thing you can do is accept them as simply someone else’s opinion, which does not mean you have to listen to it.
Have you ever heard the phrase “shut up and show up?” There is a reason it exists and the underlying meaning can be a powerful reminder to all of us. It is saying stop all the talking, the broken promises, the excuses, the word vomit spewing from your mouth and instead show people you care through your actions.
Actions speak louder than words. You can tell someone you care but until you actually step up to the plate with a kind gesture, a caring action, your words mean nothing. By “showing up” you are telling this person that you are here for them and that they are worthy of your attention, your time.
Our time is a valuable commodity, especially these days. We are constantly flooded with media and overstimulated. Our attention and our minds are being pulled dozens of directions at one time. It is up to you to make the conscious choice, the conscious effort to put your actions where your mouth is. Show people what they mean to you by physically being there in some way or another. It doesn’t have to be anything drastic or over-the-top. Simple gestures like helping a friend who is hurting to run an errand, delivering meals to a sick family member, putting the phone down to watch your daughter’s dance recital, or getting up early to make your spouse breakfast—its these small gestures, these simple actions that show others you care.
So stop promising to do this or to do that. Stop telling your friends or family you care and then skipping out on them. Instead, show up. Be there. Show them they are worthy.
How do you show up for those you care for?
Sometimes it happens. We are viewed as a “bitch” to others because we are busy or anxious and trying to get things done quickly or efficiently. Or, we are standing up for ourselves or someone else. But, what do you say? How do you handle being called a “bitch”?
That word can come off as hurtful. First of all, there is no need to “take it as a compliment.” After all, it is not a very nice word. There is also no need to go the high road, or the low road, with the person. You don’t need to ignore it and you don’t need to feel bad about yourself for being called such a thing.
There are two key ways to tackle the situation:
1.)React in a funny/snarky tone— you could say “I get bonus points for that, right?” Then go back to what you were talking about and blow it off. Don’t take it personally. Don’t dwell on it. It is just a waste of your energy.
2.)Be a leader in the situation— if you are standing up for yourself or another, or a cause that is near and dear to your heart, you could say “we are here because we care about xyz and name calling doesn’t solve the problem.”
It is all about setting a boundary but maintaining morale. By reacting in a funny tone you are showing the other person that you are not going to let their name calling get you down. By being a leader you are telling them that your actions have a purpose and name calling is pointless. Both reactions set a boundary with the other person that their words are not going to go any deeper than just words. They aren’t accomplishing anything by saying those things.
It is unfair that women who stand firm and are strong in their beliefs can come off as “bitchy” when in reality they are just passionate. Understand that if you are subjected to such name-calling that it is because you are a strong, passionate person, and that is something to be proud of.
We live in a world of interaction—talking to friends, family, coworkers, children. Sometimes we lean on each other, we ask for help or opinions on different things. When we are unsure of ourselves asking for the opinion of others can be a helpful tool in determining what the best course of action is, but first—you have to have a connection of sorts.
You might be asking, what I could possibly mean by this? Think about it this way—it’s like talking on a cell phone with a person who has lost cell connection, they don’t hear you and nothing is going through because there is no connection. Connections can happen in many ways. It could be a common interest, similar life events that cause you to relate, it could be that you admire this person for some reason or another, or that he/she/they have reached out to you in a way that makes you feel ‘at home’ with them. You can have connections with people you have never met through the internet, like bloggers or writers who you feel an affinity for.
Without that connection, however it comes to be, your words will not carry the same amount of weight. You cannot correct someone before you connect. If you are at work maybe it is proving to your boss that you are a valuable employee, connecting with them by showing your passion for the job. That might open the door for he/she/they to better respect your ideas and opinions. People listen to others when they have a mutual respect for them. It is all about the connection.
If you are a teacher trying to correct a child in school, you must first find similarities to create a connection. For example, a child who needs help from a reading specialist and the reading specialist brings up her love of hockey, knowing the child is also a fan—now they have a connection. Now, the child is more likely to absorb the information and make the correction. It is a valuable tool for anyone in business, in life, in family, in success. Take an interest in the people around you, show them you care, and make the connection.
How do you connect with those around you?
Guilt is defined, from a psychological perspective, as “a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.” The key part of that definition for me is the fact that guilt stems from this deep-seeded belief, or desire, that we are much more powerful in a moment than we actually are. Often times it is the belief that we could’ve done something to prevent the situation, even though in reality we couldn’t. It is grandiose.
The assumption that you were actually in control
Grandiose is the thought process that you are the “big fish,” you are “better than others.” When you feel guilty for something it is you assuming that you could have done better, that you are a better person than your old self. It is the assumption that you were actually in control in the moment. When the reality is you made a decision in the moment with what you had at the time. You decided to make the choice that you did with the information you had on-hand at the time.
We are humans, we are not going to make perfect decisions all the time. Guilt is the assumption that you could have made the perfect choice.
We are only human. We act on our desires, our emotions, and while not always the best choice or the socially-acceptable choice, our decisions are part of us. No one can perfectly predict, or see every side of every situation in a moment. To think that we are capable of ignoring our human desires or predicting the future is a grandiose thought.
Why do you think we feel guilty?
Research sources for this post:
What is Grandiosity?
Have you ever notice how your brain seems to always pick up and dwell on the negative? It is all part of science. Our brains are hardwired to respond and focus on the negative.
Studies done by psychologist Dr. John Cacioppo, as previously mentioned on my blog prove the brain reacts stronger to negative stimuli than positive. This is all part of the brains built-in mechanism to protect ourselves from danger. But, always focusing on the negative can be tough on our mental health. It can worsen depression and anxiety, and lead to general unhappiness.
Practicing gratitude—while a learned practice—can help us pivot from our brain’s hardwiring for negativity, and help us to see the positive things we often overlook. Gratitude takes us out of our own nearsightedness and helps us recognize there is something/someone other than ourselves. It helps us to remember to be fair and to see both the negatives and positives in life and in others. It creates a more well-rounded existence.
A powerful way—and relatively easy routine to adapt—to practice gratitude is The Power of Three. It is to give gratitude, whether it be at the end of each day or in the moment, to someone, something, and yourself. Each day, give recognition to (at least) one person for doing something nice for you, one positive thing that happened to you, and, last but not least, to yourself for doing something nice for others or yourself. Don’t forget to be nice to yourself!
I encourage my clients to start gratitude journals, where each night before bed they write down at least one positive thing that came of the day. It can be as simple as not getting any red lights on the way home from work, listening to your favorite song when you woke up, getting a hug from your child, sharing dinner with your spouse, opening the door for a stranger, or a funny joke with a friend. There is something positive that happens each day. Practicing gratitude keeps us from being bogged down by all the negativity our brains seek. Using a journal to record those positive things can help us to keep stock of all the positive in our lives. It only takes a few minutes and can have a huge impact on your day-to-day happiness level.
What are you grateful for today?
I frequently hear from women that they deny their emotions, they want to hide emotion to not be seen as “sensitive” or “emotional.” They tell me it hinders them at work, and it causes them to have an image of being “weak.” That stereotype is wrong. The pre-conceived idea that we shouldn’t be letting our emotions play a role is fundamentally not true, and research proves it.
“Without emotion, people are unable to make good decisions”
Neuroscience professor Antonio Damasio has found in his research that without emotion people are unable to make good decisions. He studied patients with brain lesions whose ability to feel emotion was impaired but their reason was otherwise unaffected and found those people could not make good decisions. He found that the “extended” self-conception of humans emerges from emotions and feelings.
In his research, Damasio determined there is an “action program” in the body that starts with an emotion. When we feel fear, for example, our body takes the feeling and uses it to develop a proper mental reaction that will ultimately lead to an action. Our emotions are what help to guide us in decision-making. They help us determine the next step. Emotion is so critical to us as humans and the way we function that we wouldn’t have music, art, religion, science, technology, economics, politics, justice, or moral philosophy without the existence of strong feelings.
So next time you think about denying your feelings, think again. You are feeling the way you are for a reason and the mere presence of that emotion is important. It is essential to your daily life and function. It is helping to guide you to make good decisions. Emotion is not a sign of weakness. If anything it is a sign of strength. Your body is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing. You are human.
Read more on Damasio’s research here: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/528151/the-importance-of-feelings/
As I have gained more roles in my life—mother, wife, daughter, and business owner—I have had to take more charge of my time. I have become more direct and less passive in the way I communicate. I am setting stronger, healthier boundaries. But, it took some time and some changes in the language I was using to really be successful with those boundaries.
I used to say “Because of xyz, I am unable to..” The use of the word “unable” made myself seem small. It came off as I am not the one making decisions for my own life. Instead, I now say “xyz happens, therefore I will not…” Such as “I spend time with family on Friday nights, so I will not be attending your event” or “I have my money in somewhere, I will not loan it out now.”
Forget the word “unable”
Forget the word “unable.” Remove it from your vocabulary. You are not small. You are the decision-maker in your life. You make your own rules. Don’t let other people think they can have control over your plans, your money, your life. You are the master of your world. Take charge in the language you use, so you don’t come off as passive.
I hear from clients all the time that they feel stretched too thin, they are afraid to disappoint people by standing up for themselves. This is why we tend to use the more passive language, but that can have a counterproductive effect. By not being direct in our language it can be perceived that the boundary we are setting is not really important. That it can easily be changed. Using direct language makes it more concrete. It is setting a rule and showing people you won’t budge, and you know what everything will be fine. You will feel more in control and more relaxed and people will grow to respect those boundaries you have set.