In the effort to have it all many of us are burning out trying to live up to our own and society’s expectations. But there are ways to take off that superhero cape and regain some balance. It begins with saying no to perfection.
First off, what is Superwoman Syndrome? It’s juggling multiple roles and excelling at many, if not all of them. You could argue this is not a bad thing if we can cope effectively and like the roles we are juggling. But it doesn’t stop there. We take on more and more and more…We rush around at the brink of burn out. Yet we feel compelled to tackle these roles and tasks and do them well! The Superwoman Syndrome was first recognized after the feminine movement of the 1970-80’s which saw women moving from raising children to pursuing careers while raising children. Today the mix is even more complicated.
The idea of having it all (perfect relationships, a clean house, disciplined kids, fulfilling jobs) is extremely appealing, especially to women who are high achievers. However….one of the consequences of trying to have it all is getting trapped in a cycle of perfectionism.
Perfectionism is defined as constantly striving for extremely high standards, judging one’s worth based on those achievements and feeling like we have failed when we fall short. We can feel stressed and overwhelmed or experience decreased satisfaction with life and relationships. Yet the perfectionist inside continues to reach for these high standards despite the personal cost. Research suggests there are healthy and unhealthy aspects to perfectionism.
Unhealthy perfectionism, which leads to Superwoman Syndrome, has an elemental belief that we are only worthwhile if we are constantly achieving high standards and our self-esteem if based on only one thing: our ability to achieve. We look around and compare ourselves to other women who seem to be balancing even more things and we think “I should be able to do this! Everyone else is!”.
So what is the cure? Like anything else, we must first admit to falling into the Superwoman trap. We need to take off the cape and live our own lives to a satisfactory standard that makes us happy. We need to ask for help with the things that do need to be done and we need to love ourselves for the amazing, complex people that we are.
If you’re like most Superwomen I know (and we are ALL super!) you tend to fall short in the energy department too. You are so busy taking care of everyone and everything that you forget to properly nourish and take care of YOU!
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