Recently, I was the first person to show up at a friend’s for our monthly book club. I listened to her story of frantically cleaning her home last night after working overtime all week with her husband out of town. She felt guilty leaving the kids at daycare a bit longer a couple of days due to her busy job and barely had time to cook anything nutritious for the family. The laundry was piled up, the yard was a mess, and her children were not listening to her. To top things off, she was sure she was getting a cold.
She wondered if it was due to staying up half the night cleaning then spending time lying on the bed with ruminating thoughts why she couldn’t lose weight, look younger, and get everything done like “other women.” Nothing much comes from this behavior except feelings of failure from not achieving perfectionism and chronic anxiety from trying so hard.
Does this sound familiar?
In Marilyn Tam’s book “The Happiness Choice,” she states that women are unhappier than they were 40 years ago and this difference is controlled for race, age, socio-economic status, marital status or number of children. So, why are post-modern women sadder and ridden with anxiety?
In a therapy practice working with all types of women, it seems that trying to be all things for all the people in our lives is bringing on a constant state of dissatisfaction and feelings of failure. In a culture that wants a perfect female specimen, inside and out, women are ridden with a sense of disappointment trying to achieve it. What can we do to shed the superhero persona and just be content with ourselves as we are?