Women’s Expectations of Themselves


Women’s Expectations of Themselves

Women are being sold a bill of goods and most of it buy it without questioning if its good for our mental and emotional well-being.  It’s the bill of goods that mass and social media is selling us. I have often found in my counseling work and in my social life that women’s expectations of themselves are totally unrealistic and yet this is normal and some of us believe it’s healthy!   Women struggle with not feeling good enough and falling short of “perfect” constantly.   Let me point out the obvious “PERFECT IS NOT REAL, THERE’S NO SUCH THING LADIES!”   We have expectations placed on us that men do not.   Now days many of us are expected to be educated and hold a career while also having most of the duty of organizing, cleaning and running a home.  Once a woman becomes a mother she f(or most families) is in charge of child rearing.  She is probably also in charge of making sure the family’s schedule runs smoothly.   Most women try balancing work, family and (the big one) looking a certain way and most of us struggle to keep up the balancing act.  I know some women that can juggle well for a little while, but when a crisis strikes a ball will eventually be dropped in order to attend to the crisis.   Society place expectations on women that we must not age and we must stay a size 2 all the while juggling several roles and numerous responsibilities.   Our society defines attractiveness for men by power, wealth and status largely leaving out the issues of physical attractiveness or not emphasized as much as it is for women. 

I have women clients that struggle with depression and self-hatred largely because they have fallen hook, line and sinker for society’s notions without examining them for themselves.   The have assumed “well if everyone says this is who I should be, should act like, should look like then I should try and be that person.”  Then when they fall short (and they will) then they feel like horrible disappointments.

I don’t know any woman that is doing all the following perfectly: holding down a 40 hour work week or full college class load, running and maintaining a home, cooking all the meals, cleaning the home, doing  and putting away laundry in a timely manner, taking care of her children, managing their school and/or lessons/sports schedule, grocery and supply shopping for the family, keeping her children well clothed, keeping in touch with friends, taking care of her hair, nails and skin, exercising daily, maintaining a flawless figure even after childbirth, paying the bills, advancing in her career, has deep friendship with at least 3 women and spends time with them regularly, has a good marriage and is constantly working with her husband to improve their relationship, is parenting well and helping their children not only succeed academically but helping them develop their emotional IQ and social skills, has good relationships with all her family members and in-laws, attends to spiritual needs daily (spending time with God or her higher power), attends a church or a some social meeting that benefits herself and community, volunteers her time to help the less fortunate, is trying to better herself with learning new things daily, keeping up with current events and staying active on social media.  Attending timely to unexpected things that come up like, someone in the family gets sick, damage to the home, the washing machine is broken or a car repair needs repair without dropping the ball on all the previous items I listed. This is not an exhaustive list; I just can’t think of anything else at the moment. 

How many women do you know that can do all of these well, all of the time without having any difficulty?   Now I know that some women rely (as they should) on help from their spouse to help them take care of the above list as they should but many women try to do it all without help from anyone.   That’s just not realistic!!!  Ladies look at your expectations and where they came from and start to question them!  Start with trying to put these expectations into words in order to uncover if they are realistic expectations.  Ask yourself where did these expectations come from? How and when did you begin to internalize these expectations?  Whose approval are you seeking by trying to meet all these expectations?   Perhaps once you have really examined these expectations you will begin to change or discard some of them all together.


Self-esteem: The Conductor of Emotions

Who's Taking Care of You?

Self-esteem is a very important aspect of everyone’s life. It is such a vital part of a person existence, yet at the same time too much or too little of it can be detrimental. Self-esteem is often used as a controlling tool. People prey on those who have low self-esteem because it is easy. Having low self-esteem, especially for children, also makes a person an easy target for bullying. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and I thought to myself this is a perfect time to talk about self-esteem. People who fall victim to domestic violence, as well as those that inflict domestic violence, offer suffer from low self-esteem. When a person has low self-esteem it is easy to convince them that the treatment they are receiving is their own fault. At the same token, as the old saying goes ‘hurt people hurt people’. With that being said people who do not feel good about themselves sometimes lash out at others in the form of release. It is never ok to hit someone, domestically or not. As humans we all have emotions and sometimes these emotions outweigh the logic of our brains. It is very easy when feeing cornered or hurt to lash out. We, especially in the African-American community support violence. I know when I was growing up I was always taught if someone hits you….hit them back. I was also taught you never let the other person get the first lick in in a fight. This way of thinking, though it did give me a thick skin, did two things to my way of life. One it limited my thinking. There was no need to think about things. When I felt corned just strike first. Two it perpetuated the use of violence. This is why people need the tools and resources such as counselors or anger management, or sometimes even grief support to help them through life. With these tools in place the instances of violence just might become less.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Esteem

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs: Esteem

You are almost at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs when you reach esteem.  Feeling really good about this climb up the pyramid, aren’t you?  Well, let’s check out what you should feel good about in this section!

Within this stage, esteem means achievement, mastery, independence and respect.  There are two different kinds of esteem: cognitive and aesthetic.  Cognitive is the mental mastery of knowledge and meaning.  Aesthetic is the external factors that assist us in finding beauty and/or balance in life.  So, ask yourself these questions when checking in on whether you are working on, at, or have conquered self-esteem.

– What brings me internal happiness?

– What stage of life am I in?  Am I content and at peace?

– How do I view myself?  How do others view me?

– How does my culture define independence and have I achieved it?

– What small thing brings me joy?  What big thing brings me joy?

– How flexible am I with change?

– What do I do for self-care?  What are my hobbies/activities?  How frequently do I participate in these?

– What am I grateful for today?

If you find it difficult in answering a few of these questions, then re-evaluate what is not making your heart content.  If you need assistance, Family First Counseling, is here to help you work your way to obtaining self-esteem.  Call us today!

What Are Little Girls REALLY Made Of?

Every time I see a little girl, I find myself commenting on their cuteness and sweetness. “Oh, you have a pretty little dress on!”, “You are so cute!” “Look at those shoes!” “Those pigtails are adorable!!” Are these comments only solidifying the image-obsessed world we live in? Do we only notice our little girls for how cute they are and not for who they are or who and what they may become?  After all, our little girls are more than sugar and spice, so much more than how they look or what they are wearing. With so many little ones growing into women who base their self-worth and happiness on how beautiful they are, it seems we must start out young teaching our little girls (and little boys!) that a lady is so much more than the cute hair bows they wear and their baby doll faces.

  1. If you must compliment….

Compliment on their energy and good deeds too. Tell them how smart, strong or brave they are or how well they listen. Let them know you notice them sharing and helping their friends. If you must compliment on their cute clothes (because after all little kids clothes are adorable!), find a way to point out the color of their shirt or the image on the outfit. See if they can name the colors or  images on the shirt and compliment on how much they know.

  1. Be careful of your words!

Children soak up everything we say. We have to be mindful how we talk about our own self-image. Are we labeling ourselves “bad” for eating a piece of cake? And only “good” when we eat green leaves? Words are powerful!  Words can empower or shame. Be careful how you use your words.

Making Social Networking Positive

social networking

I’ve seen lots of blogs and articles bemoaning the ills of social networking. (Ironically, I’ve seen these articles on social networks). These articles list cyber-bullying, false self-comparisons, and replacing “real” relationships with electronic ones. While all of these problems are real, I believe that it is possible to make your Facebook feed (or Twitter, or whatever) a safe and positive place. I believe this because my own Facebook feed is extremely positive and uplifting. So much so that I am sometimes surprised to hear that others experience social media as depressing and disenchanting.

Here are a few tips for making social networking an uplifting rather than depressing experience.:

1. Hide, unfriend, or unfollow people or organizations that leave you feeling bad. This sounds obvious, but even members of my own family regularly have newsfeed items that they find disturbing, yet keep them in their feed.

2. Find organizations, companies, and pages that make you smile. I’m not really one for inspirational quotes, but if that’s your thing, there are plenty of pages to follow that will fill your feed sunshine, flowers, and Bible quotes. There are lots of humor pages, cute animal pages, social activist pages, and others that are very positive. For me, I love equestrian sports, and I’ve followed just about every equestrian-themed page on the net. My newsfeed is about 75% horses, which makes it a happy place for me.

3. Don’t BE that negative person on the social network. Don’t air your dirty laundry (“my ex’s new gf is a total *&^%$”), don’t be passive-aggressive (“I can’t believe someone would do that to me. You know who you are.”), and don’t make private conversations public (“John Robert Smith, you are grounded!).

4. DO be the positive person on social network. Share your joys (but keep the outright bragging to a low roar), share what makes you smile. It will probably make someone else smile too.

5. Remember that your friends are sharing mostly their high moments–kid got strait A’s, going on a cruise, etc.–and don’t compare them to your low moments. Those same people with genius kids and going on cruises have bad moments too. They feel lonely, depressed, discouraged, fat, and unworthy just as much as you do, they just don’t tell you about it on Twitter.

6. If you are truly struggling, asking for help from your friends in a straightforward way is perfectly appropriate. It’s okay to post, “I’m really feeling discouraged today. Would appreciate prayers.” Just don’t be that passive-aggressive, back-stabbing, dirty-laundry-airing person that gives a negative vibe. Keep it classy and real.

7. Use social media to make real relationships better–not replace them. In a busy world with family all over the country, It’s not realistic to keep up with everyone you care about face to face. Social networks are a wonderful way to keep up with your sister’s cute baby that you hardly ever get to see in person. But don’t forget that meeting up in person, a card in mail, or a real phone call go a long way.