Have you heard someone you thought had it together, with everything seemingly going for them, share with you their struggles? We are usually in shock, wondering how that could be, when to all appearances their life was “good.” Many people are very good at putting on a façade, which we tend to buy into, until something happens to expose that things, indeed, are not often what they seem.
While most people can cover up well, women tend to do that more often. They might be going through brokenness, and can wipe their tears, get with the program because they have to take care of “business,” personal and professional.
The truth though is that someday, something gives, and like some diseases that fester underneath, things become evident when it might be too late. Women continue to endure, until they become sick, and say to themselves, “that’s it! Done!” Many of us can relate to this. I remember my mom telling me, “Julie, you have the capacity to endure things for a long time. My concern for you, however, is that you endure for a long time, and then snap, as a result of a minor irritation, which leaves people wondering why you are making a big deal of such a minor thing.” That is usually the case when things are not dealt with, and one keeps assuring herself that it will be ok, or worse, “it does not matter.” This is not to discourage endurance, or to encourage people to “fly off the handle” at any given annoyance. Endurance is a good thing, but balance is important.
What has all this to do with alignment and empowerment? In coaching high performing mid-career women, I have found that some of them do not feel aligned. You see them well dressed, seemingly ready to conquer the world, not realizing that they sometimes do not want to get out of bed in the mornings, let alone feel ready to face the usual routine of going to work, dealing with people they like or not, returning home, trying to be everything to everyone, and repeating the process.
I have known women, who go to work, and take a break to go to the bathroom, to cry, wipe their eyes, and come out to continue meetings or whatever the task is for the day. At home, they put on a smile for everyone, especially the kids, but steal away sometimes to cry. When the kids show up, they wipe their tears and put on a smile for the kids.
Some women in their early years might endure this for a while, but by the time they are in their mid-careers, they reach that breaking point whereby it can take a minor irritation to get them to snap. They often realize that they have sacrificed their well-being to accommodate and accommodate…. Generally, at this point, the children are off to college, if they have kids, or they have come to the sudden realization that it is time to put self on the agenda. This is the time that they long for that alignment which they had not experienced for years—alignment in their personal and professional lives. That is often the time they realize that they might have been playing small and operating below the “glass ceilings” of life, because that was all they could muster courage for. This is when the journey for alignment, or re-alignment begins.
What then? With the self-awareness, comes the quest to take care of themselves; however, after years of “putting self on the shelf,” it is tough to know where to begin. There’s often a lot of layers to peel. First the mind-set--letting go of stories bought into for years, which fueled the glass ceilings. Then there is the need to work on areas which may need work, in order to reach the ideal life they desire. Often, what drives the actions is knowing one’s value and purpose. Actions driven by value and purpose, help to get one aligned and once that alignment is achieved, the woman is often feeling empowered.
This is a journey not to undertake alone, as it may require navigating internal and external barriers, and blind spots. Having someone to keep you accountable does not only ensure that you make the journey, but it helps to make the alignment sustainable. This is often an aha moment for the women I coach daily.
Are you a mid-career woman seeking that alignment? There is help. Do not go it alone. After your years of supporting others, the least you can do for yourself is to seek for help, so that you can feel empowered to go after the life you desire. It would be useful to hear where you are feeling misaligned on today.