Ask A Coach: On the Expectations of Being a WomanJul 20, 2022 03:12AM ● By Diane Martinez
Introducing our new Ask a Coach column where you can ask one of our three consulting coaches about just about anything! A new column will appear every month on our website and once a quarter in our print magazine. To submit a question, go to bit.ly/naa-ask-a-coach. ❧
It feels exhausting to be a woman. There are so many expectations of us—we’re supposed to be sexy, successful, a great mom, supportive, all the while cooking nutritious meals and staying super fit! How can I be all that?
Here’s the good news: We don’t have to “be all that”! It is very easy to get overwhelmed if we look outside ourselves to figure out how or what we should be. Every day, we are bombarded with images of Photoshopped faces, carefully curated idyllic family scenes and the expectation of what others think we should be doing. All of that input can create a kind of emotional chaos that leaves us feeling confused and “less than,” scrambling to please and impress—but it never seems to be enough.
We can look to the outside world for these cues, but we don’t have to. Instead, we can choose for ourselves what is important to us. It might seem bold, but it is a way of approaching life: deciding for ourselves how and where we want to invest our precious energy and time.
Coming from this place of empowerment requires introspection. It is helpful to sit in a quiet space and journal about what is important to you, teasing out where the opinions of others end and where yours begin.
Here are some questions to start: Where do health, fitness, family, work and beauty fit into your priorities? If absolutely no one were to judge you, what would you do? How would you invest your time? How much attention would you give to your appearance?
It’s up to each of us to decide what’s truly important to us and then make choices that support those goals. Some people will be impressed, others will be critical, but what does it matter? This is your life to live. Don’t outsource your priorities to society; living with the goal of pleasing or impressing others is the path to a life lacking passion, authenticity and joy. Conversely, when your priority is to live according to your own internal compass, both the ups and the downs weave the tapestry of your unique and precious life journey.
I went through a divorce several years ago and found my “new normal” fairly easily. But, breaking up from the first real relationship I’ve had since the divorce is more challenging to get over than the divorce! Help!
The ending of a relationship can be very challenging. You might need to heal on several levels, regardless of whether you initiated the breakup or your partner did. In the case of divorcing from a relatively long marriage, the discontent has been building for a while—sometimes years—so it’s possible that the divorce is just the logical conclusion. This is not to say that going through a divorce is simple or easy, but, as painful as it may be, it is often the best step for both partners.
Entering into a relationship after a divorce can trigger all manner of questions, feelings and fears. We ask ourselves: Is this “the one”? Can I trust another man/woman again? Am I ready to be in a committed relationship yet?
Choosing to move forward with a new partner can leave us feeling extremely vulnerable. We’re taking a risk in the very same arena in which we were less than successful before. When a new relationship ends, it can shake us at a deeper level than the divorce did. Our confidence in ourselves and what we believe is possible are once again in the hot seat. We wonder: Is it possible for me to be in a loving relationship? What is wrong with me? Will any relationship last?
As with all apparent setbacks in life, this, too, is an opportunity for going within, discerning lessons and moving forward a little bit more enlightened. Consider the following steps as a path to process the end of your relationship and the beginning of healing.
- Accept what is. We create angst for ourselves when we resist whatever has already manifested for us. The clenched fist and the internalized—or externalized—shout of, “This shouldn’t have happened!” create resistance to life and only add to our plight. Acceptance does not require that we like what happened, just that we recognize what is.
- Practice self-care with gusto. Indulge in long walks in nature, meet friends for coffee, attend a yoga or qigong class, visit your favorite bookstore, journal, sleep, hydrate. When your heart is hurting, it needs and deserves practices that are grounding and healing.
- When you feel ready, you can try the following practice. Pretend you are a reporter whose job it is to cover your past relationship. From an objective, third-party perspective, can you bring some understanding about why things unfolded as they did? We are well versed in our own stories, but it is helpful to try to see things from the outside. Taking a broader view can bring clarity and healing.
- Last, but absolutely not least: trust life. It is said that life is happening for us, not to us. It’s not critical for us to see the value or potential of each unwanted event in the moment. But when we relax into life—like laying back into a comfortable chaise lounge, knowing it’s there and it will hold us—the suffering lessens.
I wish you the best as you recover from the loss of this relationship, and I hold the vision of you shining bright—happy, fulfilled and whole. ❧
Diane Martinez is a certified holistic life coach based in Sandy Springs. She offers virtual and live one-on-one life coaching as well as small group classes on Zoom. Follow her on Instagram @LifeCoachMartinez and visit ConsciousCreatingLifeCoaching.com.