Women’s power to choose
Women and girls of today may not remember the past struggles for equality. A woman’s right to vote, be educated and own property for example, were not always options. Gender roles are no longer so rigid and clear cut. And women’s rights in Australia are now numerous. Many things have changed over time and most modern women now have the freedom to choose how they engage with themselves, others and the world.
“I do not wish women to have power over men, but over themselves.”Mary Shelley
With this freedom and empowerment comes the opportunity to make choices about which roles women embrace. These various roles are part of the puzzle in how women define themselves and build up a sense of identity and worth.
On reflection, the women in my life are constantly trying to weave varying important roles seamlessly into their everyday lives. Can you spot yourself in this list? Are there some other roles you would add to this list?
Wife, partner, organizer, director, economist, mother, disciplinarian, teacher, health officer, artist, model, cleaner, chef, nurturer….
The burden of multiplicity on women
It is hopeful and exciting that women are offered the opportunity to engage with each of these roles. However, in trying to integrate so many diverse roles, women can easily become burnt out and tired. Take a moment to notice to check in with yourself. Are you taking on more roles than is reasonable?
During lockdown, I recall many friends and colleagues saying that they were exhausted as a result of overextending themselves while doing home-schooling, preparing meals, cleaning and still trying to stay on top of their career goals. Women undertake disproportionately more unpaid domestic and childcare work. Stressful workloads and juggling too many roles and responsibilities can lead to mental health concerns. At some point, women also need to make certain decisions about which roles stand out as primary motivations, and which can be relegated to secondary or even tertiary roles.
An inventory of roles
It is important to find the right blend of roles to avoid burnout and overextending oneself. It may be a valuable process to do an inventory of all your roles as a women. As part of your “role inventory” jot down some of your key personal interests, values, and behaviours. Try to be as honest as possible with yourself so that you can have a clear picture of your experience as a woman. Which roles do you think these descriptions highlight? Are there any roles that don’t seem to fit, are outdated, or are taking over?
Now that you have a clearer idea of your current role inventory, you can make an informed decision to act more mindfully and intentionally to prioritise key roles, and discard or minimize those that no longer serve you.
“A feminist is any woman who tells the truth about her life.”Virginia Woolf
Are you are feeling fatigued, anxious or overwhelmed by the many roles and responsibilities you carry? Would you like to create more balance in your life? Reach out to the psychologists here at the Centre for Effective Living for some guidance and support.
Michelle Nortje (M.A. Clin Psych, B.Psych Hons, B.Ed.Psych Hons, BA) is focused on establishing a therapeutic relationship that is safe, trusting and supportive. Michelle aims to use integrated psychological tools and approaches in order to help her clients make sense of their difficulties, gain insight into their patterns of behaviour and relating, and work towards co-constructed and workable goals. She uses Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Positive Psychology, mindfulness-based approaches, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Attachment theories and psychodynamic theories in order to tailor the therapy to best suit the client’s needs.
Michelle’s clinical training and diverse experience have equipped her to intervene in a variety of mental health issues and age groups. She has gained experience working as a clinical psychologist across non-profit, government hospital, school-based and private settings. Across all her roles, Michelle has expanded on her interest in working with children, adolescents and adults experiencing a range of mental health difficulties such as anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, adjustment difficulties, trauma and grief.
Michelle is dedicated to consistent professional development by engaging in peer consultation groups, receiving regular supervision and expanding her knowledge through frequent webinars and courses in order to ensure effective interventions with her clients.