Several ‘feminist’ movies watched over the weekends during lockdown – Panga, Thappad, Mardaani, Tumhari Sullu, numerous forwards received on Mother’s Day and some interesting conversations with my 7 year old son. The mix of all this coupled with coaching conversations with some women leaders during this pandemic and my overall experience as a Facilitator, here is a piece to unshackle some deep rooted beliefs that often give rise to “Motherly Guilt” and/or “Female Guilt” resulting in self limiting performance.
1. “I know it all” Syndrome: We need to get rid of bolstering our self esteem by being a so called all rounder. It’s okay to not cook different cuisines and post pictures of it on social media unlike others. The yardstick of success is NOT your culinary skills and how you have pleased people at home or at work by extending your working hours resulting in being perceived as a perfect woman. It’s a façade…it may only resulted in anxiety, pressure, exhaustion and stress. You need to create and rely on self approved success yardstick and not get bogged down with self inflicted socially approved yardstick.
2. Rewrite the stories: Nature has bestowed wonderful qualities to woman – kind, graceful, adaptive, sensitive, empathy and many more. We need to believe in these strengths and re-write the stories of Sita, Cindrella…about their distress, forced circumstances, hardships and frustrations to the stories of Minal Dakhave Bhosale, Jacinda Arden…stories of leadership, decisiveness, hope over fear, compassion, lead from front. We need not have Barbie with some muscle…however we could blend feeling beautiful and feeling accomplished too.
3. Silence the self doubt: Women are prone to getting into a spiral of overwhelming self doubt. With the running commentary in the head that pumps up “You Can’t”…half the battle is lost there. Instead authentically reflect to recognize is it a limitation, comfort zone, fear of failure, comparison trap or something else. The truth is – you know the real answer…it lies within…it just needs a lot of strength to accept and action upon it. It needs courage to not hide behind the real reason or an excuse of self doubt, instead take the plunge and course-correct along the way. As much as competence, confidence matters to succeed. The fact is we create our own reality.
4. Seek Help, Seek Support: You have to ask for it…point blank. It isn’t a sign of weakness, in fact unless you ask and at times unless you repeatedly, un-apologetically ask for it, other person won’t realize he/she could help. Sometimes the other person also needs a push to help and support you. Shift your mindset of I will do it all to I need help and we could work on this together. Establish your support systems at home and at work too without feeling guilty about it. It’s okay to not belong to a tribe of 24/7 available mom/spouse/manager/several other roles that you play. The first and foremost important role you play is of self.
To revel in your ambition and success, internalize fierce worth ethic, self regard. Fight your inner enemy by not giving up. “The only battle to win is the battle within, that place where we realize that we deserve to have and create all that we want in our lives.” Ali Vincent