These days, women are “doing it all”, but we’ve never felt farther from “having it all.” We stay stuck in the past, beat ourselves up about the present, and worry about the future. The result? Loads of women are struggling to be happy. While all of this might seem bleak, I want to offer some reassurance through a simple but powerful practice that can help women harness their thoughts and feelings and ultimately experience greater fulfillment.
Take Emma*, for example. Emma is one of my clients in Old Saybrook. She’s got two kids under five, a full-time job she doesn’t entirely love, and a husband who works a ton. She plops down on the couch and recounts her most recent weekend full of crappy Automatic Thoughts (which we’ll call ATs), like,
“my kids are the only ones who behave like nuts and everyone thinks I have no control,” and
“my husband was the one who wanted our second kid this soon and now I’m the one knee deep in diapers while he gets to escape on business to LA!”.
These thoughts caused her a decent amount of anxiety and robbed her of the full happiness she deserves. They caused tension in her marriage and self-consciousness in her social interactions. This was only the tip of the iceberg.
Sound familiar? Emma is just one client, but in so many ways she is every woman. Emma came to therapy because she was feeling alone, overwhelmed, and unsure. She had tried to break through her internal struggles on her own but the cycle just kept repeating. Alone. Overwhelmed. Stuck. Disconnected. Not as happy as she knew she should be.
There is no magic wand to wave to turn children into obedient cherubs, husbands into mind-readers, to transform Emma's career overnight, or instantly help her feel rested, in control, and content.
So what do we do? Among other techniques (that I’ll save explaining for another day), we use mindfulness. Mindfulness helps Emma pull herself back to a more accurate reality when she’s getting sucked into her automatic thoughts (ATs).
Over the years, every time I’ve heard the word “mindfulness” I let out a private internal groan. Mindfulness? Yech. Does it mean I have to sit in a lotus position clearing my head while I enter into a state of peaceful calm?
I'm not doing that.
Maybe mindfulness is for other people. People who “do that stuff.” I could simply not relate to the catch all phrase of “mindfulness.” I decided it was not for me and kept my head down as I busily forged ahead with my life. Much like all the women I see in my practice.
…Until I realized that I was practicing mindfulness on my own, and with my clients, without even realizing it. How? I was using a much more relatable way of “being mindful.” This mindfulness helps women ditch excess anxiety, stay grounded, and keep it real. All you need is yourself and your brain. You can do this anywhere to help with any struggle or any situation.
When I check in with my clients on their progress in therapy, I often hear this feedback:
I have more insight. I understand things in a new way.
I can bounce back like I couldn’t before (more resilience).
My coping mechanisms are way better.
I don’t get totally derailed and overwhelmed the way I used to.
So what is it that’s helping clients achieve these types of changes through therapy?
It is their new ability to be mindful.
Mindful in a way that changes their awareness of themselves and the contributing factors to how they think and feel.
In other words... You can't get your stuff OUT of the way if you don't first know what's IN your way!
Yes, women struggle day in and day out with loads of challenging thoughts that keep them stuck in the past, anxious about the future, and unhappy in the present. These thoughts are about their marriages, motherhood, their beauty and bodies, to just name a few. But by using mindful awareness, my clients are better able to accurately identify what’s in their way and get unstuck. Using mindfulness to stay in the present and get back in control can help women to improve their emotional, mental, and physical wellness. This series will help you understand how to increase your own awareness to lead a happier, more connected and fulfilling life.
I'm here to help! Need to learn more about getting unstuck now? Get in touch with me by scheduling a free consultation, and stay tuned for Part 1: Less Resentment, More Contentment: How Mindfulness Can Help Women Stay Happier
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.