This week celebrated International Women’s Day (March 8th), a day to celebrate Women’s achievements, raise awareness of bias, and take action for equality to help form a gender equal world. The year of 2020 and now this month exactly one year on of the global Pandemic, has placed an incredible amount of pressure and uncertainty upon everyone, worldwide, but has this placed even more scrutiny upon women, and mothers in particular?
With the implementation of working from home with no childcare and the dual action of home schooling, as well as the usual “women/mother roles” of housework it is not surprising to have felt overwhelmed. This may possibly have been one of the positives of the Pandemic however, with everyone (particularly males) being home more to appreciate the effort that goes in running day-to-day life, and taking on extra house duties or childcare because they are around more. A partnership may have become more of just that in multiple ways. Regardless of who works more, the realisation of what the other does may have become more apparent and a greater respect for both parties formed. (Read more on post-lockdown slump here).
Women in particular are often scrutinised for either working too much when they have children, or not being career driven, with the saying that “you can’t have it all”. This combined with the usual mum guilt, personal doubt or disbelief, can lead to women focusing more on their weaknesses, failures, and mistakes rather than seeing this as a natural process to improvement and can lead to increased stress levels from self-criticism. This can also manifest in Imposter Syndrome. A phenomenon used to describe those who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments or see their potential. This of course relates to both male and females, but grossly affects women more. Rather than blame the individual however, we should see that this is the result of historical and cultural contexts that exacerbate this.
Adopting a self-compassion mindset is the way out of this perpetuating process. Accepting the failures and using this as motivation to improve beyond the weakness. Mental toughness is the foundation for success, however being hard on yourself won’t develop this, and instead those who find success (in whatever way you determine your success) are those who keep trying regardless.
This past year as been a whirlwind for everyone, and sees the one year anniversary of me completely changing my business model to working from home, changed my overall focus, and my goals. (Read more about my business during the Pandemic here). Imposter Syndrome penetrated significantly during the first lockdown, and with so many others adapting their businesses too and combining this with being a working mother, business owner, and newly pregnant, meant it was easy to fall into this category. Finding this new self-compassion and the strength of mindfulness has allowed me to focus on me first (in a non-selfish way!) and move forwards. I’ve worked harder than ever, but also found a way to work smarter and increase productivity rather than burn out. As we progress through 2021 (and hopefully out of the Pandemic situation), I hope all businesses, and working people in general, take note of their strengths, boundaries, and note that there are ways of solving most problems. It just takes a mindful approach to trouble shoot accordingly.
Over this past year a special thanks to those I have collaborated with, worked with, and simply spoken to about issues and showed that collaboration rather than competition is the best way forward, even in a competitive world.