Posted June 15, 2017 – [As printed in The Women’s LifeStyle Magazine of Greater Kalamazoo, May 2017 Edition]
Yep. You read right. That is the title of this article. Now that I have your attention… ladies, let’s talk.
As children, we are told that we are made up of “sugar and spice and everything nice”. But, I can’t tell you how many women come into my office and express how this rule of “just be nice” has destroyed their happiness. So, let me ask you this: When’s the last time you didn’t say anything just because “I didn’t want others to think bad of me”? When the last time you sacrificed what you needed because you “didn’t want to make someone upset”?
With great love and tenderness, I say that us women have to stop doing this! Being nice is wonderful but having that cause stress and burn-out because we are spread so thin is not worth the cost. What if, instead, you could find a way to be just as compassionate to yourself as you are with others? It’s possible!
Let’s Get Real
We usually call women who are to the point and pursue their needs the B-word, right? But, let’s think about the qualities we are describing: confident; strong; assertive; competent. I don’t know about you, but I would be flattered to have someone describe me in this way. (P.S. I can’t remember a time where a man was criticized for being strong in this way. Do I smell a double-standard?)
So, what am I saying? Certainly I am not saying go out and be rude and cuss at everyone, functioning out of self-entitlement. But, I am saying that we should begin to embrace an aspect of our Selves that typically is described in a negative light. What if being assertive and direct actually isn’t a bad thing? What if we gave ourselves permission to say “No. That doesn’t work for me. Period.”? What could we accomplish as women if we remove the labels and allow ourselves to have a voice?
A Starting Point
You may be wondering where to start. Here are some thoughts to consider.
1) Give yourself permission – Allow yourself to be a priority. If you have other obligations, like motherhood or a job, honor those. But, allow your needs to be worth exploring, as opposed to following you gut-reaction to give to others mindlessly.
2) Skip the labels – Avoid self-critical thoughts that include implications of “the B-word”. You are being nothing more than yourself and you deserve to have your needs met!
3) Use your voice – State what you need from others. Ask for that promotion. Arrange for childcare so that to have some girl time. Speak your truth, even if your voice shakes.
4) Avoid apologizing – Guilt is often a hindrance to growth. So, recognize that you don’t need to justify your need for a vacation or offer a reason why you don’t want to go to that party. As Nike tells us, “Just Do it!”.
5) Seek support – Robert Ingersoll reminds us that “We rise by lifting others”. Strength attracts strength. So, find a women who inspire and celebrate your strength, as opposed to being threatened by it. Maybe even find a professional or inspirational figure to help coach you on your journey of self-discovery.
It’s important to recognize that this can be a life-long journey. So, use each moment as practice. Learn what style works for you and what doesn’t.
Lastly, if I seem passionate, it’s because I am. Your voice is too beautiful a gift to waste. Don’t spend any more time being who you’re “supposed to” be. Find your true Self. And, run with her!
~Ashley Carter Youngblood, LMSW, LMFT, CADC, ADS
Ashley Carter Youngblood is both a Fully-licensed Clinical Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist who has been in the field since 2007. She offers counseling in Kalamazoo, Portage, Mattawan, Battle Creek, Paw Paw, and the surrounding areas of Southwest Michigan. She is passionate about her work with clients, whether it’s providing individual counseling, couples counseling, family therapy, or life coaching. Her specialties include holistic healing/mindfulness, counseling for women, anxiety, couples counseling, and addictions/substance abuse.
I welcome you to contact me or leave any questions or feedback you have about this post. Please keep in mind that the above information is the opinion of an individual, should not be considered medical advice, and is for entertainment/educational purposes only. I write these blogs as an expression of my passion for wellness and with the hope to be able to help as many people as possible. Therefore, I would encourage anyone seeking mental health advice to contact a therapist in your area who can better evaluate your situation and provide you with case-specific information for treatment. Also remember, if you are experiencing an emergency, contact 911 or present yourself to your nearest emergency room.
Thanks for reading.