In Part 1, we talked all about the unique work-life stressors women face as they take on loads of responsibility both at home and in business. If you missed it, read it here!
As promised, now I'll share few scenarios that present common work-life stressors for women, and then I’ll share with you how, by thinking like a great manager would, you can stop the frantic cycle and bring yourself back to a sense that you can function.
Remember: the acronym BOSS will help you remember the points you need to stop suffering and start tackling what's wrong:
B – Be aware of your needs;
O – Open up about them;
S – Share the load; and
S – Say your strengths and successes.
Today we're going to work backward, starting with how you can use the two S’s to fix more commonly recognized problems; in later parts of the series, we'll spend more time on the B and the O; which require a more detailed exploration.
The first issue that breeds stress for women is that of taking on all or most things ourselves. Take a moment to ask yourself – are you guilty of responsibility hoarding? How many of you would consider a company well run if only one of its employees did 90% of the work, and all of the other employees pitched in occasionally or only if asked, or were responsible for just that remaining 10%? That company sounds crappy! You’re sitting there thinking, that company is headed for disaster, since the setup isn’t sustainable. And that one employee doing 90%? She’s on burnout highway big time.
Now take a minute to think about the responsibilities you shoulder, both big and minute day to day. Does this employee sound anything like you in your work-life setup? My guess is that you’re giving 100% at work every day, and then at home you’re tangoing between cleaning up, running a limo service, stocking the fridge, making sure everyone is fed, weeding out mail, maintaining appointment and social calendars for the entire household, and on and on…. And that’s just the short list.
Here are some key signs that you’re not truly handing over responsibility in your work and life: they include... the feeling that you are indispensable, thinking “I could do all of this without you”, or hearing a lot in your life, “sure, I can help” – that word HELP indicating that you own the task.
Think about the realistic health of your work-life setup when you continue to do it all. Is this a reasonable expectation of one person? Would you stand for it if you saw it happening on your team? This is where I want you to pause and dig deep. Why aren’t you delegating? The reasons women don’t delegate are endless. They include things like the need for control and perfectionist tendencies (both of which I am also in active recovery for) guilt, and trust issues. But I want you to challenge yourself to consider whether there are things you can relinquish control of but aren’t for some reason. I also want you to ask yourself whether in this scenario it serves everyone else in their personal growth and sense of responsibility when you hoard all the tasks? Let’s think critically about the capabilities of others. It’s essential to share the load, even if it means the load is done differently than how we would. Let’s not rob our children, partners, and community of their ability to do their part.
The second thing that I see happening when women struggle with stress and anxiety is a failure to acknowledge their own areas of success, strength, or progress. Work-life stress brings on loads of negative thoughts. These thoughts overwhelm our feelings of joy, spontaneity, and satisfaction. After all, what is stress? Stress is our mental, emotional, and physical response to the anticipated experience of falling short, failing, or disappointing ourselves or someone else.
How can we handle this like a boss? We need to stop abusing ourselves with our thoughts. A good boss motivates her best employees by regularly harnessing and reminding them of their strengths and by celebrating their successes. When stress strikes high, remember that it’s a symptom of everything you aren’t sure you’re succeeding at. I want you to stop. I want you to acknowledge between 1-3 things that you are doing well. I also want all women to know and be able to name their own strengths. Knowing yourself is a key aspect of staying mindful about who you are and how you function. Knowing your strengths is essential in having stable self-worth and the ability to bounce back in the face of challenges and setbacks. When is the last time you applauded yourself for your successes and strengths?
According to the Harvard Business Review, the feedback ratio for top performance is five positive pieces of feedback for every one negative piece of feedback. But as a women’s therapist, I know that the inner self-directed thoughts of women are incredibly cruel. In times of struggle, remember the 5:1 ratio, take a hard look at your own, and remember that positive feedback is what motivates people to engage and excel. We cannot expect ourselves to thrive when the way we talk to ourselves needs a total makeover.
Now you've learned about our two S's! Next in the series we're going to dive into what it really means to Be aware of our needs and Open up about them, and how doing both of these things can completely change what we receive in work and in life. Read it here. I look forward to sharing these essential tips with you! If you want to connect about this topic or any other way I can help in your personal journey, please don't hesitate to reach out to me for your complimentary consultation.
This blog series is adapted from a talk given by Lauren Drago Therapy as part of the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce Women in Business Series.
Lauren L. Drago, MSEd, LMHC, LPC is the founder of Lauren Drago Therapy in Old Saybrook, CT and in greater CT, NY & PA. She specializes in working with smart, insightful and capable women to overcome stress, anxiety, loss of identity, self-limiting beliefs, perfectionism, marriage strain, and the pressure of "trying to do it all." Lauren has a passion for helping others to achieve the happy, fulfilling, productive, and meaningful life they deserve by changing how they experience and understand their world. She believes that every woman can and should live out her personal definition of her own best life. Follow Lauren on Facebook, and call (860) 339-6515 to schedule your free initial consultation.