By Tanya R Bankston, MA, LLPC. Today’s modern woman wears multiple hats: wife, mother, employee, entrepreneur, etc. just to name a few. To complicate matters, within each of these roles lie multifaceted responsibilities. These can require transformation of those responsibilities within a moment’s notice. Boundaries can become blurred or non-existent while expectations remain high to meet the challenges. Often this can lead to what we call superwoman syndrome.
Long gone are women solely responsible for fulfilling the duties only within the boundaries of maintaining her household (please believe that is not an easy feat either). So the expectations remain high, the boundaries are blurred, and the responsibilities become insurmountable, what does today’s modern woman do?
Characteristics Of Super Woman Syndrome
She takes on the characteristics of a SUPER woman. This woman becomes everything to everyone, all the time.
- she becomes the problem solver
- the mediator
- the networker
- a doctor
- the lawyer
- a teacher
- the nurse
The list goes on. If I have not named your profession, trust me this list is not an exhaustive list. New occupations, expectations, and responsibilities are added daily. Oftentimes without SUPER woman’s permission or at best she is reluctant to say “NO”. . If by chance she does say “NO” it is often not without guilt (a side effect of the woman pleaser mentality, that is another blog subject for another time).
So What is The Problem with Superwoman Syndrome?
There is just one small problem SUPER woman is everything to everyone BUT herself. After she is finished saving the day by meeting the needs of all those that she encounters daily there is little, if any room to nurture herself, and replenish her power source. She is left with an empty reservoir as she stands alert and ready to respond to her next task. So when does SUPER woman STOP the rollercoaster and get off to respond to her own needs? The short answer is many times she does not! That is why superwoman syndrome is so prevalent.
Signs And Symptoms Related to Super Woman Syndrome
Unfortunately, many times it’s after a warning sign that includes stress related induced illnesses. Such as heart disease, digestive disorders, autoimmune diseases, sleeping disorders, and depression. Wait, depression? Yes, depression…many women suffer from depression more often than men. Is it possible to be depressed frequently when we are engrossed in supporting and serving others?
Shouldn’t we as SUPER woman find fulfillment in serving others? How is it possible that each year women suffer from an equal amount of heart attacks as men according to the Center for Disease Control? Doesn’t our SUPER woman status make us invincible to these diseases and disorders?
Surely our love, devotion, and servitude to those that we faithfully serve in the execution of our SUPER womanly duties should be justification to ward off pesky illness, and diseases that threaten our mission as SUPER women?
But the statistics say so otherwise! For example, suicide rates for women between the ages of 45-54 were the highest among females in 2017 according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Women die at alarming rates from heart attacks each year at more than 200,000 or five times as many as women with breast cancer, according to the Center for Disease Control. Globally, women are disabled by depression and anxiety more than men including major depression according to the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience.
It stands to reason that while we are busy saving everyone else that we are missing the mark. This causes us to fall short as it relates to saving ourselves from preventable illnesses that are stress related. By the way the statistics are higher for women of color, we die at more alarming rates than the general population, and we tend to get medical attention later (we ignore the warning signs longer).
So what can we do to change some of these statistics to become better equipped in taking care of ourselves while serving others?
Here Are Four Tips For Superwoman Syndrome and the Modern Woman To Care For Herself First!
1. First, be honest with yourself…There is no SUPER woman, Wonder Woman, or other SUPER human!
Now that that has been resolved let’s get really honest to determine the true motivation for saying yes, when we really may want to, or need to say “NO”. Sometimes we say YES simply because we don’t want to offend others, disappoint others, we want to be liked by others, or we are afraid that others may reject us. It is OK to say “NO” without apologies, without explanation, and without guilt!
Practice saying “NO” in the mirror, or writing it in your journal. Get comfortable with “NO” it may save your life.
2. Learning to hear the cry of your voice screaming for help requires time being silent.
Yes, it is necessary to STOP putting out fires for others… hang up the cape, and save yourself!
Begin to honestly question your motivation for saying YES to everyone, and essentially saying NO to yourself.
3. Let’s face it we all get 24 hours in each day…if we pack it with projects there is NO time leftover for self-care!
In fact, 1,440 minutes isn’t a whole lot of time when you think about it. My point is that we will not get added minutes, hours, or days…time is precious, and limited! The best thing that we can do as WONDERFUL women living SUPER lives is to decide to spend time with ourselves. Especially, BEFORE serving others.
Praying in the mornings, journaling, meditating, and exercising are all healthy tools for replenishing our reservoir, before beginning to serve others. Even when we start serving, giving, and helping others it is wise to limit our capacity to help others.
4. Listen to the warning signs…your body is calling you!
It is a scientific fact that our bodies cannot live in a constant fight or flight state. All the stress of being everything to everyone at all times, is a lot of pressure for anyone. Minor aches and pains, extended moments of feeling blue, and feelings of constant exhaustion. These can often be from more than flying through the skies and saving a damsel in distress!
Schedule a doctor’s appointment, learn the warning signs for heart disease, lose a little weight, but most important STOP ignoring your own cry for help. You deserve your service, dedication, and loyalty to live your best life! Helping others but neglecting yourself is a sign of a potentially deeper problem. Talk to an online therapist in Detroit, MI about developing healthy boundaries and healthy coping strategies for dealing with superwoman syndrome.
Begin Working with our Online Black Therapists Today!
We are superwoman, but we cannot do it all alone. AS woman of color we stand for everyone but ourselves. Its time to change this. As black therapists, we understand the struggles you deal with day to day. That is why we are here to help you overcome your superwoman syndrome in order to find a balance.
At our Detroit, MI counseling practice you will work with our online therapists who specialize in working with women of color and minorities. We know that for the black community, it is hard to ask for help. You don’t need to feel ashamed for asking for help. We empower black woman to YES to themselves first. If you’re ready to develop that radical acceptance, then start your online therapy journey by following these simple steps:
- Contact Introspective Counseling
- Meet with one of our skilled online black therapists!
- Begin living life on your own terms today!
Additional Services Offered at Introspective Counseling
Having a supportive family and community is crucial to black mental health. That is why we strive to provide a diverse and inclusive space for everyone. Our Detroit, MI therapy practice is a place for anyone at any stage of life to get help. We work with women to address these issues as well as provide screening and assessment for other mood and mental health issues including postpartum depression, anxiety and perfectionism, depression, bipolar disorder and PTSD and trauma, marriage counseling and couples therapy, therapy for moms, life transitions, grief counseling, therapy for high achievers, and LGBTQIA+ counseling, EMDR Therapy, and services for entrepreneurs and professionals.
Additionally, we have services for men as well. We know you may feel more comfortable with a black female therapist. If you believe that our services align with your goals and values, then get started with us soon in person or via online therapy in Michigan. Our online black therapists are ready to work with you!