You Can Have It All – But Do You Want It All?
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Victor Frankl
Having it all is exhausting! And, maybe, “having it all” is just a myth!
Like many women today, when I entered the world of work, I needed to support myself. I needed an income to pay my rent and have a little spending money for the weekends. Then, I fell in love and got married. And, before I knew it, I was on my way to a career, a husband, a family, a mortgage, a dog, and two cats.
Within a few years, I took one child to soccer practice, another to basketball, and another to dance. I did all the family holiday entertaining, and to say this time of year (the 4th quarter) was stressful, is an understatement.
I was exhausted all the time. I tried to attend the boys’ games and school events and usually made about half of them. Generally, I felt like I was failing everywhere. There just wasn’t enough of me to go around.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was “defaulting” into the roles that I thought I was supposed to take on as a woman. I inherited these beliefs from my mother (who was traditional about marriage and family) and my grandmother (a career-oriented woman in the then-unknown tech world). They both had ideas of how I should live life and greatly influenced me.
So I tried to do it all and burned out three times during my corporate career from pure exhaustion. One time I changed jobs thinking that working closer to home would help. Once I got pneumonia and was benched for a month. And the third time, I moved out of state to try to get a different work lifestyle for myself and my family.
Here’s the rub. Whatever outer changes I made, I kept repeating the same inner patterns! And before too long, I was physically depleted again.
Ten years ago, I learned that the problem wasn’t outside of me; it was inside me. The beliefs and mindsets were driving me toward what women could and should do in our modern world. I rarely questioned the roles in my life but instead pushed harder to do it all. Even at work, when I was offered a promotion or a new project, I said “yes” because I believed that saying “no” would have undesirable career consequences. I had an inner voice that kept pushing me on and constantly spouting all the consequences of failing.
Does any of this resonate with you? Are you trying to have it all?
I call these default patterns and beliefs “Your Inner Glass Ceiling.” The Inner Glass Ceiling is the unconscious operating system handed down to women over the generations. It contains all of your conscious AND unconscious beliefs about what you “should” do, how you should do it when you should do it. And, if you’re like many women today, it doesn’t include much, if any, time for rest, self-care, when someone within your care gets sick, and how you will run your life when you get sick.
Transform one of the beliefs that have you doing it all. To do this…
- First, activate your Inner Observer. The Inner Observer is the part of you that can see and hear your inner thoughts and feelings without judgment. It knows your deepest desires, your life’s story, and the purpose of your life. To activate your Inner Observer, imagine that you’ve entered a beautiful but large ballroom. You are looking for someone but can’t find them because the room is so crowded. You notice a set of stairs that leads to a balcony. You take these stairs, and when you reach the balcony, you’re able to see everything and everyone in the ballroom. You can see the big picture and the individual details of the room. This is your Inner Observer. Activate your Inner Observer and imagine that you are looking down on all your beliefs about being a woman.
- Find a disempowering belief that has you repeating a pattern you want to change. It might even have a big consequence attached to it. For example, “I cannot say no at work, or I’ll be passed over for promotion.”
- Now replace this belief with one that is more empowering. For example, “I am empowered to voice my thoughts and express what is best for my life.”
- Practice saying this belief out loud, every day, several times a day. Write post-it notes and stick them around your computer, the fridge, or even the mirror where you put your makeup on. Put reminders on your phone. This will help to ingrain this new empowering belief.
For the woman who is in the pattern of doing it all, breaking through the inner glass ceiling involves knowing what’s been programmed within you, understanding the fear-based emotions that keep you repeating patterns, and building healthier ways of saying “no” handling conflict, and taking risks.