Women’s Challenges Today

Did you see the recent stats in the Toronto Star about women? According to the article, women are going to be more alone in their future lifestyles. This will be the result of the rising divorce rate, male medical fatalities and women who are choosing to be on their own.

A disturbing statistic was the increase in female stroke and heart disease. As women take on more and more responsibility as single parents, caring for aging parents, and more senior positions in the workplace, stress and burn out symptoms increase and require a change in attitude and lifestyle.

In my professional work, there are some predictable patterns and issues that many women, and of course some men, present.

Women tend to be more ‘others’ focused, which means that they are more likely to know their families’ and friends’ needs more than their own. I believe that as women, from our past programming, we are connection, and relationship oriented. Our role models mostly taught us to focus on others, especially significant others, which has resulted in not giving ourselves enough nurturing and little acceptance of our own needs and wants.

Another issue that many women, and men struggle with, is the fear of being alone. While this fear can create much difficulty within a relationship, it becomes huge when individuals have to face life on their own.

Let’s look more deeply into these two challenges: self-nurturing and being alone.

If you can relate to being very focused on others to the extent that you are not aware of your own needs, and also not really sure who you are, find a book on ‘Codependency’, which will help you to understand the dynamics and give some suggestions for making changes.

Personal Reflection:

  1. List 10 things that you like/love about yourself.
  2. How many of these traits relate to being good, kind, caring or giving?
  3. How can you take better care of yourself: your body, emotions, spirit?
  4. When/ how do you relax?
  5. When/ how do you play?
  6. Are you satisfied with your life today? If not, what is one change you can make?

Some suggestions:

  1. Sit quietly and go inside. Explore what you are feeling in your body. Touch your hands, arms and be very present about the sensation. Journal or draw what you experience. Dialogue with your body.
  2. At mealtime, eat slowly and consciously, and really taste your food.
  3. Take time to stretch, walk outside, and move your body to music.
  4. Write down on pieces of paper experiences that would be a ‘treat’ to you and put them in a jar or box. Several times a week, treat yourself to whatever you pull out of the jar! (Thanks Joyce for your suggestion!)

When I look back at the many lessons that have been presented to me in my life, many of them had a theme about being fearful.

While I could have listed many fears, foremost, I was afraid of being alone. I was like a junkie for hanging out with other people!!

It was very uncomfortable for me to spend a night alone.

Another aspect of aloneness was in relationship. I felt like I was good enough, lovable, as long as a special male chose me.

If I wasn’t in a relationship then I was inadequate, unlovable, and so on…so I can relate to my clients who are dealing with these issues.

Personal Reflection:

  1. Can you sit quietly and imagine that you are primarily in a relationship with yourself?
  2. Do you feel complete?
  3. What feelings arise for you?
  4. What are the benefits of being alone?
  5. What part/s of you would emerge if you were in a relationship with yourself?

Some suggestions:

  1. Get to know yourself better by journaling or drawing. Be able to write pages on, ‘Who Am I?’.
  2. When you are in your head and you think about someone else and what they need, say, “What about me? What do I need?” Get used to thinking about yourself, too.
  3. When you feel irrationally anxious or afraid, deepen your breathing and repeat a calming phrase: ‘It’s OK’ or ‘All is well’.
  4. Schedule time when you can sit alone without TV or disturbances. Reflect and enjoy the quiet.

For some of us the best of both worlds would be to share our lives with a significant other and experience the space to explore our uniqueness, our passions and our self-love. If you are alone find ways to really enjoy your opportunities to love and connect and live your life to the fullest.

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