I listen to a lot of women who tell me they don’t know what to do with their life. Of the few that have some idea, something is usually getting in the way of them actually believing in themselves enough to go after what they want. Conversations have revealed that many women don’t stand up for themselves, they don’t ask for what they need or want and they spend a lot more time taking care of others than taking care of themselves. What is going on here? I strongly believe self doubt and low confidence gets in the way of purpose and direction but its more than that…
I suspect that many of these women simply don’t know how to put themselves first because they never have! Before you tell me I’m wrong because this simply isn’t you, I’m not saying this is the case for 100% of women, but I am saying that from what I’ve witnessed over many years of observing the behaviours of women it is common.
One of my mentors Alan Seiler from Newfield Institute posed these two notions to me:
‘Woman have learnt to live in a world where they must take care of people and suffer in the process’
‘It’s compulsory for women to live in self doubt. Any woman who shows up as confident creates a breakdown and disrupts the status quo.’
What are your thoughts about these?
Could it be that women are so busy being everything to everyone else that they don’t think it’s their right to live their life with passion and purpose?
We have learnt to live as though our life isn’t ours, it belongs to someone else and we exist to serve someone or something other than ourselves. We wait for something to magically appear for us and in the meantime we’re sad that it hasn’t. We may even feel deflated and suffocated. This is an oldie but a common one…this is “my lot in life”. Worst of all many of us don’t even notice we’re doing this.
Let’s start here ..
When you learn to take care of your concerns, everything will fall into place. It’s our deepest concerns that get in the way of taking actions toward what we want.
Click this image to get the Explore Book so you can start taking care of your concerns and really getting clear on the direction you want to take ..
Some Ways This Plays Out
- You share stories like: nothing ever goes my way, I’m so busy, I couldn’t do ‘X’ because I don’t have time, support or I’m not confident, good enough or something else enough
- You offer to do things for others more than you make requests of others
- You “try” to think up a passion and purpose but still don’t come up with something that you love — you go around in circles
- You give authority to others i.e. you allow others to have a voice over yours, listening to what others think is best for you and you take that on board
- Self criticism seems normal for you e.g. I’m not good enough or smart enough
- You live in guilt and anxiety and regret about your life
An article on News.com.au referring to a report commissioned by Dove (link) said this…
“89 per cent of Australian women are opting to cancel plans, job interviews or other important engagements simply because of how they look.”
- 9 in 10 women opt out of important engagements with friends and loved ones
- 9 in 10 women stop themselves from eating or otherwise put their health at risk
- 5 in 10 women have not been assertive in their opinion or stuck to their decision
Dove said “The study also highlighted that a large percentage of women attributed growing pressure from the media and other related sources contributing to the problem”.
My observations and the research by Dove demonstrate similar patterns — that women are sick of the story we have learnt to live in; “a world where we must take care of people and suffer in the process” and we could possibly be attempting to break free from this story and in a desperate attempt to gain purpose and identity yet we struggle to know how, and become insidiously trapped in comparison! While women are unhappy, dissatisfied and constantly comparing themselves to some external standard, living by their own internal purpose and direction seems like a vague notion.
My immediate concern is for my own granddaughters, young girls who will become young women, who at some stage will have to navigate their way in this crazy world. In a world where it is possible for women to show up as leaders in their field, or in their community or even world leaders, there is increasing pressure for us to be confident, skilled, intentional and determined in our actions. At the very least if we don’t have purpose or direction, we are unlikely to assess ourselves as capable of these achievements.
I was born into a generation of women who were expected to pay close attention to others, to care deeply for family first and foremost. If we weren’t paying close attention we were assessed as uncaring; our empathy was questioned and we were often judged harshly, or we judged ourselves for not living up to these standards. We weren’t taught to have any direction because our direction was already assumed for us. This message still lives in women today and if we don’t observe it, it remains transparent, and the narrative becomes impossible to change.
Have you got the FREE Explore Book yet?
So my wonderful women friends, it’s time to listen up
How do we take care of others (if this is what we choose) and live with purpose and direction? What will it take for us to find our direction and confidently be bold for change?
These are my top 5 ways to live with passion and purpose and find direction
One: Notice your life as it is
Notice how you are living right now and the actions you take day to day. The amount that you cook, clean, nurture, go to work, and pick up the pieces is entirely your choice. How you go about life is entirely your choice. If you’re a woman it’s more than likely you’re innately nurturing. Trust your instincts on this one. Notice how much of what you do is driven by the standards and expectations of society, community or family, and how much is driven by your own desire to do these things. Are you compromising your purpose and direction because you think you have to live up to external expectations and standards? Noticing does not for one minute mean you have to change how you go about things, however it does give you choice!
Two: Notice how you interact
Ask for what you want and need. Nothing happens outside of conversation. If you want something to be different you have to ask for it specifically and clearly.
If you need support, training, personal development, coaching — ask for it. If you need to change your ‘norms’ have a conversation about other possible ways of going about things.
Three: Notice your language
Pull yourself up on the language of obligation and excuses!
- I can’t do ‘X’ because….
- I have to ‘Y’ because…
- I don’t get the support I need
- He/she never helps with…
- I couldn’t do that because I’m too busy
Pull yourself up on the language of self doubt!
- I can’t do ‘X’ because I’m not smart enough
- I can’t do ‘X’ because I’m not confident enough
- I can’t do ‘X’ because I’m not well known enough
- I can’t be like ‘Y’ person because they are more ‘Z’ than me
These are the conversations you have with your friends, your family, your spouse — or yourself! When you tell a story and in that story there are obligations (things you think you are expected to do) and self doubt (things you don’t think you can do), notice those things.
Four: Notice your mood
If you haven’t taken actions or you’re regretting your decisions it’s possible your moods have you in opposition to something. Your mood involves language, behaviour and body. This could be what’s going on…
- Why bother?
- What’s the point in trying to find purpose?
- Nothing will make a difference
- I will do ‘X’ (or have ‘X’ conversation)
- There is a point because I’m worthy and I have something to give
- What if I tried and it did make a difference?
- Do nothing or disengage
- Divert your attention back to your old story
- Distract yourself from taking purposeful actions
- Take one action toward what you want and do that. Repeat
- Pick yourself up when you hear the old story divert your attention away
- Assign designated times to the new purposeful actions and request alone time
- Slumped rounded shoulders, chest close, eyes downcast
- Shoulders up and back
- Chest open
- Chin slightly up and forward
Now go about what you need to do in this new more ambitious mood in a different posture using different language…the language of possibility!
Five: Declare it to the world!
Yes do this!
When you make a declaration that something is going to change, the thing you want to change all of a sudden becomes visible to those around you.
This may take time for people to adapt to your changes. Declaring it will give others the opportunity to ask questions, and adapt as you take purposeful actions towards what you want.
So to help you get started I’ve included a FREE Explore Book to help you deal with the things you’re deeply concerned about – this is where you should start. Then you can begin to take a leap toward creating the life you want.
Go for it! You can do it.
P.S. What is one thing you think you can’t do OR are obliged to do where you can begin to notice your mood and switch your language?
I wish the best of care for you this day and every day.
Do you have any questions? Comments? Insights? I’m here to listen! Let’s chat below.
P.S. I also have a Facebook page where I’d love to chat with you and answer your questions! Click here and like my page.