Am I doing enough?
Published 13 December 2022 at 09:00
Has this question ever bothered you? If it has, you are not alone. Working with women clients, I find this question nagging every woman irrespective of what age or stage of life she might be. Whether she is a C-suite executive or a stay-at-home mom, keeps us all ruminating.
In the past few decades, we women as a group have made tremendous gains in salaries, educational attainments, and prestige. We have become adept at juggling personal and professional lives. We are doing it all. We should feel at the top of the world for this. Instead, we are doubting ourselves and constantly asking “Am I doing enough”. Where does this question stem from?
In this article, I share with you snippets of my research, anecdotes from my coaching conversations, and tool you can use to silence your inner critic.
Did you know, nature has a role to play in the way we are? Amygdala, as we all know is the seat of our emotions. It is where fight and flight phenomena stem from. In the case of us women, it is highly sensitive to negative situations.
Consider this scenario: You promised to be present for your child’s sports day. Things came up and despite your best efforts, you missed it. This is enough to send you on a guilt trip and the question: Am I doing enough?
Next time your brain is on overdrive over some spilled milk, calm it down, give it your reasons, blame it on the amygdala and move on!
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One of the commonest reasons for the “Am I doing enough” is, us falling into the trap of the “Good Girl” syndrome.
The seeds of good girl syndrome are frequently sown in childhood. According to a Stanford University study, desirable traits in women include warmth, loyalty, and cheerfulness, while men are expected to be assertive, independent, and dominant.
Knowingly-unknowingly, we sow the seeds of this syndrome very early on in childhood in schools, homes, and other social settings. We condition our girls into thinking, having these characteristics will make it easier for them to be accepted in society. Gradually, it makes them averse to taking risks, making mistakes, and absorbing criticism without getting discouraged.
Behaviors in “good girls” usually include:
- Fear of disappointing others
- Obedience to rules
- Reluctance to speak up
Unfortunately, “Good girls” who accommodate the wishes of others before their own end up feeling frustrated and resentful.
One such client was Sharon. In her mid-30s, she had ticked all the boxes of societal expectations. She had a well-paying job, a doting boyfriend and parents who loved her. Despite everything she had, she did not have that sense of fulfillment. She felt she had never really lived her life.
Whenever you feel frustrated and suffocated in your current state of being, ask yourself “What’s stopping you from changing what you don’t like – displeasing others or your own fear of making a mistake?”
Thanks to the plasticity of our brain, any habit that does not serve us anymore, can be replaced by a new one.
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Meet Jolly. A busy C-suite executive with a big family, she is like a fairy God Mother to everyone in her professional and personal life. Her mother broke her only pair of glasses. Because of her busy schedule due to the financial year-end, she was only available to attend to it over the weekend. In the meantime, desperate without her glasses, MIL takes the help of her neighbor and gets it fixed. For Jolly, this was enough to raise doubt in her head “what would the neighbour and neighborhood think of me. I can’t take care of my own mother?”.
Before you read on, I implore you to ask yourself, if you were in Jolly’s shoes how would you have felt? The chances are you would feel the same.
We, women, are juggling a lot of things these days. For us to work efficiently and effectively, we must have a trustworthy and agile support system. More importantly, we need to learn to be comfortable with seeking help within and outside this support system.
Linda Babcock is a Professor of Economics at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Based on her extensive research in psychology, sociology, economics, and organizational behavior, her book “Women Don’t Ask”, claims, “Women don’t ask. They don’t ask for raises and promotions and better job opportunities. They don’t ask for recognition for the good work they do. They don’t ask for more help at home.”
People are not mindreaders and will not know how they can help you if you don’t ask for help.
Whenever in doubt and unable to do something that’s important to you, ask yourself, “which resources I can draw on to make this happen”. Remind yourself, it is ok to ask for help. It is ok to rely on others to do things for you.
Image Credit: Pexels
Am I doing enough, has become so ingrained in us that we don’t even stop to think if we have the ways and means to come out of this nagging question. To change something, we first need to become aware of it and for us to be dissatisfied with what we have. If we keep accepting the way things are, things will never change. If often assume that we are stuck in our circumstances and that there is no way out.
As history has shown us, there is always a way out. If it were not, we would still be stuck in our homes, we would still not have voting rights.
Thanks to the plasticity of our brain, we can bring about change in our ways of doing, thinking, and being at any age and stage of life. All that we need is a strong framework to imbibe the desired changes consciously and consistently in us. Don’t stay stuck, empower yourself.
About the Author:
Shalini Bindal is a professional Coach certified by the International Coaching Federation. As a Transformational Coach, she helps people change their thought patterns and narratives to gain new perspectives on relationships, personal growth, and career enhancement. This is possible through her company Kaleidoscope Workshops where she guides people to go from feeling Stuck to being Empowerment, with a new sense of direction and motivation.
You can follow her on Instagram IG: kaleidoscopeworkshops for informational posts and videos.
If you feel you are struggling with this question and it’s holding you back from reaching your true potential, reach out to Shalini@kaleidoscope-workshops.com to learn more about customized program to overcome it.