Working Women and Guilt
By Karen Benjack Hardwick
When I was asked to write this piece, I laughed. I have enough guilt – at times – to corner the market. Yet, when I looked into the origin of “guilt,” I realized that we use the word too frequently and inaccurately. Mostly, the word “guilt” is associated with committing a crime, doing something “wrong.” While many, many women have worked oh so hard over millennia, it wasn’t until about 70 years ago that women en masse worked outside the home. Hence, this is a relatively new phenomenon that flies in the face of how things have been done for so long. While we are not committing a crime by working outside the home, many of us are in the throes of being torn a great deal of the time.
Here are some suggestions to feel more aligned:
1. Realize you are serving as a good role model for your children. Don’t you want your son to be with a woman who is a partner in many ways? Don’t you want your daughter to follow her dreams and live as full a life as possible?
2. Earning money gives you freedom. Not to mention, it helps with the load at home so no one person carries it all. The very act of bringing home a paycheck is empowering and it means you are less apt to feel trapped while also providing choice to your spouse.
3. Embrace being multi-faceted. Celebrate that you are more interesting to your significant other, friends, children, and family when you have rich, large-world experiences.
4. Ask for help. Delegate as much as you can and do not get into the no-win position of playing the martyr. You won’t be rewarded at the pearly gates because you ran one more errand, cooked one more meal, or washed one more load of laundry.
5. Quantity counts. It is not all about quality. Both are necessary. When you give up being the perfect woman, it allows you to be more present to others.
6. Indulge yourself as much as you can in healthy ways. Exercise. Spend time with people who make you feel good. Eat well. The simple acts of having a cup of tea, going for a walk or run, reading with your children, laughing, and romancing your partner pay huge dividends for heart, mind, and soul.
7. Shut off technology. Ignore the BlackBerry when with others. Most of us are not on-call brain surgeons. Email can wait. Shut off the video games and the texting and talk to each other, play a game, cook a meal together and play outside.
8. Fuel your connections to a “Higher Power.” This is not about religion. This is about finding the divine all around you and giving up the need to be in charge of everything, controlling all details. Breathe.
9. Practice gratitude. It is a simple yet amazingly powerful act. Be grateful for the smarts and opportunity and health and energy to work. Being grateful is a courageous act and creates tremendous peace.
10. Spend time with yourself. Carve out solitude in a way that works for you so that you are reenergized. Depletion does not benefit anyone.
Karen Benjack Hardwick is the President of GH Consulting Group, Inc. She and her team serve a wide variety of corporate clients in the areas of leadership development, executive coaching and assessments, and high performance team development. They are known for doing the kind of work that transforms individual lives, teams, and organizations.
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