Back in the 80’s or 90’s or some time like that I remember there was this push about being a Super Woman- have it all, do it all, be it all. I look back now and think “What a load of crap. What a great way to set women up to think they aren’t enough.” I’ve been slowly reformulating that whole concept into this- Shero: Female Hero. I my opinion there’s a DRASTIC difference between Super-Woman and Shero. Let me walk you through what I have so far, and so far I’ve put together enough that I’ve roughed out a book on this very topic. (Notice I say roughed out, it’s a project in the works and very near to my heart personally and professionally.)
As a Licensed Professional Counselor in the St. Louis area I specialize in working with survivors of sexual trauma. I see more women than men basically. Most of the women I work with come in with their chief complaint being self-esteem/self-confidence issues. It’s a rarity that I see a female client who doesn’t state they have those issues. First things first we throw the whole concept of better self-esteem out the window. It’s such an abstract concept. Like what does self-esteem feel like? It feels like being comfortable in your own skin and your world. Let’s aim for that instead! If we can feel it, if we can conceive of it we are more likely to get there. Most clients that complain to me about low self-esteem find it easier to conceive of comfort rather than self-confidence. It’s definitely NOT being cocky and self-centered which is where some clients think self-esteem exists- in the realm of selfishness.
That leads me to another phase of this- being a Shero is about taking care of yourself- FIRST. Even if you are married, have kids, and work a full time job you take care of you first. If you’re not OK then who’s going to be there to take care of everyone else? I don’t know if it’s hard wiring or learned behavior but most women are care-takers in one way or another. What’s that cliché’: If Momma ain’t happy nobody’s happy? Well it’s truth. If Momma is physically ill then she needs to take some much needed Momma time and get well! In caring for yourself you are teaching your kids, loved ones, and friends that being mindful of you is OK to do. I can not count the amount of times I’ve had clients who did EVERYTHING for their family and their family totally took advantage of that and had no respect for them in the end, nor did they know how to do anything for themselves. That’s an equation for long term mess in my opinion. If you have kids, seriously, they need to move out eventually and pay their own bills!
Now in caring for yourself that means learning a few skills. 1) Say No. No is your default setting. In order for you to say Yes there better be a good reason to say yes, and part of that reason is in saying Yes it’s to something you enjoy doing. If it’s something you dread say NO! 2) Delegate. Read that again- DELEGATE. Other people are likely better at some tasks than you are. Some of the people in your life might actually enjoy some tasks and such more than you do. Sometimes, like with kids, they need to learn some life skills, say doing laundry. Delegate. 3) Schedule time for you and what ever it is you need to do to rejuvenate yourself. Some of us are introverts and need time alone to meditate, do yoga, read, watch some guilty pleasure TV. Schedule that FIRST before anything else. Some of us are extroverts, we rejuvenate while being with others- family dinners, coffee with a friend, etc. Schedule that FIRST. THEN schedule date night with your spouse/partner., and then all the other stuff. Now your work is not going to be accepting of Tuesdays being “Me” day so I guess schedule around work. (Silly jobs getting in the way of our well -being)
Know your limits, respect them, honor them, and keep them. If being in a crowded noisy place isn’t your thing and you are totally able to pass up that event DO IT! I recently did a mud run and a “cheer leader” for our team came to cheer but that person and everyone else knew busy, noisy, crowded events wasn’t that person’s idea of a good time. Therefore it quickly became a NOT good time for that person. One can cheer on their loved ones by having a warm meal and a glass of wine ready at home. In my world both are just as supportive. Frankly being honest and respecting your own needs teaches others to respect you and your needs.
Emotionally what many people feel that struggle with “self-esteem” is worry/anxiety. What many clients tell me is they constantly worry about how others are perceiving them, what they are thinking about them, etc. I’m here to tell you- They aren’t thinking about you as much as you think they are. Most humans are pretty lost inside their own head and their own world. If someone is actually thinking about you that much well you must be pretty famous, or they have problems with obsession or something. How others perceive you and what they think about you has everything to do with what’s inside their head. I’ve been in the mental health field for over 15 years…you really don’t want to know what’s going on inside most people’s heads. Truth be told the more you focus on you and yours the less people focus on you. In fact some will begin to respect you more for doing so.
Now this emotional part of this effects all the other parts and vice versus. Anxiety sometimes needs some professional help to get it managed and cleared. That’s OK. That goes right back to take care of you! Asking for help is key to being your own Shero. We are social creatures us humans. We are designed to be with other humans. (Not saying I want to be with ALL humans but there’s a select few I enjoy being with) Therefore we are designed to help each other. If you have been helping everyone a lot I guarantee there’s someone you’ve helped that is trying to figure out a way to give back to you. There’s someone who’d LOVE to help you out, support you, and give back. It’s time to let them, to ask them, to release them from this mental age of feeling like they owe you something.
Being a Super-Woman is out. Being a Shero is what it’s all about. And the more you Shero on the more Sheros you will find until you have your own Shero League and with your League you will conquer your part of the world!
Oh and lastly I have to give credit where credit is due. The term Shero comes from Johnetta B. Cole. Go look her up, she’s pretty darn amazing! Follow my Shero Blog and share it with your friends!
Tara S. Dickherber, LPC is a Licensed Counselor working in the St. Louis area. When she’s not in session with her clients she can be found gardening or at the barn horsing around. For more info on Tara check out her website: http://www.tarasdickherberlpc.com