Over the last few decades, the professional landscape has radically transformed with the inclusion of more women. The contribution of women within the family and organisational structure has multiplied manifold. However, the majority of them still experience tremendous pressure from several sides—to achieve success, reach their goals and ambitions in highly-competitive environments as well as do right by their families and most importantly, their children.
It is a tightrope walk that has been extensively written about, but it continues to be the single most daunting issue for my ilk. Therefore, I’d like to share five powerful messages for every woman. Keep in mind, this is not a to-do list. Most of us have a lot on our plates already. This is simple wisdom that seeks to find a place in your awareness.
Here we go:
1. It is always important to embrace your identity and play from a place of strength: Many women today have embraced different mannerisms and styles of work in order to succeed professionally. If that is who you are, then there is nothing to worry. However, a fundamental conflict at the level of who you are (your true essence) and who you are projecting yourself as, will breed unrest, fatigue and external dissonance as well.
Imagine that you don’t like to cook, but are pitted against a professional chef in a competition! What would be your odds of winning? It always makes sense to play from your strengths by embracing your identity.
Being a woman does not imply weakness.
Being soft does not imply lack of effectiveness.
Louder voices, aggression and unnecessary sharpness do not imply leadership.
Good content, whether in an argument, in output or work in general, is an unstoppable force by itself. Its presence is desired and appreciated. There will not be a need to raise voice or add drama. And when an individual is self-assured and operating from a place a knowing, the individual has already mastered authority!
Insecurity and any affectation stemming from it, on the other hand, is like a termite swarm. It hollows the structure by eating away at it gradually. But strength speaks for itself. So instead of extending effort in a direction where results may be suspect or short-lived, it is better to play by your strengths and spend that extra energy on honing your skills.
2. Rework your language of inner conversation: Most of us do not realise how unkind, demanding and critical we can get of ourselves, thereby creating a vitiated internal environment, not only in our brains but also in our hearts. Observe your own self-talk for a few days and notice if you offer enough praise, compassion or forgiveness to your own self. Are you driving this machine with care or relentlessly flogging it, demanding ever more? Self-compassion can help us defeat bitterness and resentment. Better human beings share a good relationship with their own selves.
3. It pays to be more perceptive about physical change: The human body is the most marvellous piece of machinery ever built. And women’s bodies are even more so. Common sense only dictates that complex systems work better with regular upkeep. You cannot dismiss the fact that with age, the body undergoes a lot of changes. And these are not subtle. There will be far-reaching changes in terms of physical strength as well as emotional resilience, so taking care of yourself is not optional. It is a priority. You need to take charge of your emotional hygiene as well and provide it with good TLC every now and then in a way that works for you—a nature retreat, yoga, spa, meditation, a good workout, dance therapy, music, gardening, cooking, talking to a counsellor, etc.
4. Never underestimate the power of pen and paper: Don’t get daunted; this isn’t about being a good writer. It is about being able to unclutter your mind and see choices by putting them clearly in front of you. By doing this, often what hangs over the head as a large, dark cloud becomes a small puddle. There is much more clarity to be had when we put thoughts, ideas, and problems in writing. What may have seemed like rush hour in the head is mostly only two cars running by, round and round in circles, creating the illusion of mayhem!
5. Be the large-hearted one: Many clients in their senior years often complain of loneliness. If a human being is not able to nurture lasting relationships with their peer group and display trustworthiness, loyalty, warmth and empathy in their younger years, then loneliness is a foregone conclusion, unless you deeply enjoy your solitude. Human beings are social animals and need company and warmth. Personality and habit changes in later years are not easy. While the family structure and dynamics undergo change over the years for sure, what will remain is our girlfriends—the sisterhood bond is for real. This is the most wonderful support group in your senior years, your resource of empathy and joy. Never let this pond dry out. But do remember that it will always start with YOU, and how affable and nurturing you are.