Women and boundaries : why the struggle ?
Have you ever wondered why it is so hard for women to set boundaries ?
As much as we are brought up being told that we should stand up for ourselves and that everything is possible to us, life seems to work in difference way for us.
As time goes by, as we have more responsabilities, engage in long-term relationships, have children and try to work through the many hats we carry, our sense of self seems to strangely vanish away from us.
The more people we bring into our circle, the more we dilute our identity, preoccupied as we are to be there for others.
Have you noticed how we can loose ourselves in the tiniest things, the smallest demands and the insignificant expectations others have from us ?
Before we even notice, we are drowning under a mountain of to-do lists and obligations, unbearable expectations that keep us away from truly being us, and fulfilling ourselves.
As much as we love them, children, parents, partners and sometimes friends can do that to us.
What started as a desire to be there for others and give with love, becomes a realization of how invisible and empty we have become.
So what is so different about us ? Is it really a gender thing ? how much of it is conscious? And more importantly, can we get out this and how?
Yes, it was all worth a video...
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Debunking myths about women and supporting them with finding their voice and space in the world is at the heart of what I do.
It fascinates me, always has, probably because I grew up seeing so much wasted talent around me, so many invisble women and so much desire to be more than the boxes that these women were put in.
1-A TRADITION THAT STICKS LIKE SUPER GLUE
Let's take a second here to remind ourselves that not so long ago we acquired the right to vote in certain countries.
🤯 Think about it : 1920 for the US and 1976 for Portugal. Yes, you are reading correctly... Think about the 60s, where women's value was measured according to their ability to be housewives and have children, are only 60 years ago. Those women who went full steam on this are our grandmothers and mothers. Which means 1 to 2 generations ago only.
Considering it took centuries to get there, it does take time for people to let go of old ways of thinking.
This means that inequality between genders, assumed roles in the household and workplace prevailed until very recently (and still do) and therefore the traditions of what was expected of us, well, are sticking to us like super glue.
Our mothers still carry the heritage of it (they were kids / teens during the 60s ) and this whole thing about being subservient to others, always there for others, or others come first is more deeply rooted than we care to admit.
So being taught how to say no to that DOES NOT COME NATURALLY. It has rarely been taught to us and seldom do we have models out there that show us how it is done.
Instead, we have a chorus of women who are asking us to do differently but who are still behaving the old fashioned way at home or frowning when we want to exit the box of traditions.
Our mothers have been caught in between and they have often struggled themselves between what was becoming possible and the reality of it. We are carrying that dilemma in within us, whether we like it or not, and as creatures of habit, we end up doing what we have been shown, not what we have been taught.
So in times of great demand, when we ourselves have become mothers and carers, we go back to the good old familiar.
💡Breaking traditions is possible and very much needed and it all starts with putting limits to those expectations and focusing on what is right FOR YOU and not for others.
You owe to yourself, as much as to your children because they will carry the flame.
2- WOMEN AND MOTHERHOOD : the complex relationship
For many people, women are still reproductive beings first and foremeost. Yes, we have evolved, we have contraception, we can decide not to have children but just look at people's faces and comments when you say you are not interested in having children.
Yep. You know what I mean... (Great despair, evelasting regret, shame of being a wasted womb will fall upon those who choose not to become mothers 🙄🙄🙄 )
I can say that I also hear a lot of despair and regret from mothers who HAVE children and who are hating every minute of it. But that story, no one wants to hear it (more to come on that topic in further blogs !!!!)
What about when you just gave birth, still feeling like a wreck with your vagina in pieces on your hospital bed and someone from your family asks you when you are planning on giving a sibling to your child ?
Does anyone ask when you would like baby sitting so you can go out and see your friends ? NO.
(I love this ad by the way : so many layers here to analyze, I don't even know where to begin. And yes, it's a real ad for American Airlines...) 😵💫😳
Does anyone tell you that you might be suffering from post partum months after you give birth because it happens to 1 woman out of 2 ? No. We only talk about the magic of it all, something that can takes years to come for some us, leaving us with shame when we struggle with it.
This stigma still happens. All the time. Because women are still defined by that extraordinary gift they have of carrying children, leaving us at a loss when it comes to being something else AT THE SAME TIME.
And when we get older, guess how society labels women ? Pre or post menauposal. That's it. There are no official terms to describe women over 40 separately than through their reproductive system.
Therefore, no surprise : as we get older, we often become invisible.
Yet, if you look at myths, legends, history of certain countries, we have many examples of women who have changed the world, been extraordinary as well as being mothers. The complexity of who we are has been shadowed for a long time because it is what we have been taught to focus on in order to fit a role that was about serving others. The stories are changing but the everyday struggle still isn't.
The complexity of our identities, of our roles and of our chronology is very different than those of men. It's not better, it's simply different and understanding it is essential when it comes to stopping people's expectations and definitions of what a woman is and should be.
We need to learn how to be multiple beings by making motherhood a part of the journey, not something that solely defines us. And for that we must voice our needs at home and at work and embrace that we can be many things, just not always at the same time.
What we perceive as imperfection might just simply be our ability to be fluid and multifaceted.
💡Motherhood is the door that will teach us to set boundaries, we just need to change the way we look at it.
Constantly giving birth to ourselves and to others is a pretty incredible weapon. And a mighty gift if you ask me. .
3-SELF-CARE IS SELFISH
Talk about a myth that is severely engrained in our cultures as women : when I practice self-care, I am being selfish.
And if we think about the narratives behind the traditions we mentioned above, this soon becomes " if I practice self-care, I am selfish and if I am selfish then I am not being a good partner or a good mother because everyone else's well being has to come first."
Add to this the idea that to be a perfect women, you need to be a perfect spouse, mother, daughter, worker, etc which only comes if you dedicated yourself 100% to everyone and everything because hey, being perfect is VERY time consuming....
Welcome to the never ending spirale of guilt that women live through all the time.
Let's be real for a second. What happens when we don't take care of ourselves ?
We become bitter, angry, short-tempered, stressed, unfocused and overwhelmed.
We become resentful that others don't see our need to rest and stop, and we expect them to make it happen for us. Because we want them to do for us what we do for them.
Big mistake and great recipe for disappointment. And marital disaster...
Again, this is something we have not been taught and rarely witnessed for ourselves. Half the time, we have no idea how to even do it.
Self-care is a sacred place. This is where we find meaning again, joy and where we can connect with what is important. It's a quiet place where things come alive again for us and where we find who we truly are in times of confusion, fatigue and loss.
That space is sacred because it's where we refill our hearts and energy to be able to give back again.
Without self-care we become robots, subservient and driven only but other people's need. That's when we loose perspective.
💡So really, not taking care of ourselves is the selfish act. When we don't set that boundary and let ourselves forget who we are, this is where we let everyone else down including ourselves.
The boundary for self-care is actually the one boundary that leads to true freedom and empowerment because it creates that space where we undo what no longer serves us and become who we are meant to be.
4-QUEENS OF COMPROMISE (read people pleaser)
I am certainly guilt of that one when it comes to my family. Big time.
Women are often creatures of compromise : we love when everyone is happy, when things are right for everyone and we are often the first to step back and give up our share of the benefit. This happens very frequently at work, specially during meetings or with collegues.
And the other place where we see it regurlarly is at home, specially when it comes to our chores being shared or kids needs and wants coming first.
We do it because we get lazy, we want to avoid conflict, we are too soft at times with our family, our colleagues and it's just easier to suck it up than create havoc.
We loose our voice, in the name of being liked and avoiding conflict. And that's how we become a people pleaser.
And everyone else's carpet...
Women can be leaders, have a voice without being perceived in a negative way. We cannot always be liked, but we can certainly thrive to be respected.
Think about your children : they don't always like you but what you teach them by having a voice goes way beyond that.
It teaches them a skill that will be useful for the rest of lives : sometimes we win and sometimes we loose. Sometimes it's about us, sometimes about them and together we can find a happy medium where everyone has their voice heard and space respected.
It's the difference between compromising, and making a choice. And setting boundaries is about making choices that will stop you from compromising yourself.
Our freedom as women begins where boundaries are explained, respected and put into place. It is a very much needed skill that should fundamentally be taught and reminded in times of great confusion and loneliness.
It is an art, on many levels, because it requires us to fine tune that invisible line between what is right for us and what the situation requires.
It is a beautiful skill because it gives birth to extraodinary freedom and happiness, in every area of our lives, simply because it shelters who we fundamentally are while allowing who we are becoming to flourish.
I am a strong believer that as women, we have to unlearn what we have been taught in order to become who we are meant to be. Setting boundaries is the first step of the unlearning process and the first step towards freedom and visibility.
PS : The BUSTING BOUNDARIES course is ready to launch next week so make sure to get on that waitlist right now so you are the first to know when the Founding member SUPER PRICE kicks in :