It’s not easy being a woman. We are told from an early age we can be anything we want to be, and we must also be everything. We are told to be smart, educated, career-driven, athletic, thin, pretty, outgoing. We have to be an amazing mom/daughter/sister/friend/family CEO and, of course, the perfect spouse. We are also supposed to make it look as easy as pie….as in the one you just whipped up and popped in the oven.
The expectations society places on women are ridiculous. The expectations we place on ourselves are even worse.
I have 4 decades of experience as a woman and a decade of experience owning fitness studios primarily comprised of women. I am also raising two daughters. The struggle is real…the feelings of doubt and inadequacy are raw. And that’s ok, after all, we are human.
I recently participated in a workshop about our inner critic. We were asked when our inner critic first appeared in our lives. For me, it was in second grade! Who knows where she came from, or what experiences up to that point influenced how she presented herself. It was likely a combination of relationships, conversations and observations that began at birth. In general, as we grow up and into who we are, our sphere of influence gets bigger and our inner critic opens the door for more opinions, judgment, insecurity and vulnerability to seep in. Family, friends, media, teachers, coaches, celebrities, infomercials, articles, fake news, false advertising and social media all contribute to our basic understanding of who we are and the expectations of who we should be.
I see the impact these expectations have on my clients, employees, friends and family. I see the light inside being slowly extinguished by the damper of expectations. It’s devastating and destructive. I have spent years working on my own self-care and self-love. I’m not perfect, I gave up on that a long time ago, but I am in a better position to help others navigate these tumultuous waters. I also see it as my life’s mission to help others feel better from the inside out.
When I founded Alkalign, establishing a culture of acceptance and authenticity was my top priority. Even more than offering a safe, sustainable workout, I wanted to offer a safe place where people could feel comfortable spending their time on good days and bad. My goal was to provide something that would leave people feeling better than when they came in. Community is the heart of Alkalign. Human connection is the glue that holds us together. It is important to surround ourselves with people who support us in bad times and champion us in good times. That is the sign of true friendship.
Here are a few tips I regularly incorporate into my life. Try them for yourself! What’s the worst that could happen?
Detoxify Your Life
Out with the old. In with the new. This goes for anything toxic, everything from the food you consume to the relationships that consume you. Get rid of what doesn’t serve you and make room for what does.
Practice Self Care
Invest in you. No one is going to take care of you, self-care is an inside job. Michelle Lam, founder of True & Co. said, “Self care is about carving out space, making sure you realize that you deserve time for yourself.” Nourish yourself with food that provides you with the fuel and energy you need to feel well from within. Make time for exercise that is as good for you now as it is 20 years from now. Prioritize sleep, which is evolutionarily your way of resetting and restoring your mind and body every day. You only get one body, take care of it for the long haul.
Tell the Inner Critic to Take a Hike
First, acknowledge the inner critic, then turn down her volume. You will never have more conversations with anyone in life than you will have with yourself. Ensure the inner dialogue is as constructive, productive, compassionate and loving as the one you would have with your friend or child.
Give Yourself Some Credit
Perfection doesn’t exist and if it did, the world would be a really boring place. As the saying goes, life is tough and so are you. Things won’t always go according to plan. Embrace that life is dynamic. Balance is dynamic. Sometimes you crush it, sometimes you get crushed. On those days, pick yourself up and turn the page. Give yourself some credit for all that you are and all that you do. You are enough.
Note: If you’re interested in this topic, I highly recommend a book called ‘Enough As She Is’ by Rachel Simons. A must read if you are a woman or want to better understand the women in your life.