In my therapy practice I often see clients who are what I describe as ‘the stretched woman’. I understand this woman very well, I am one too. So here are a few tips and suggestions for supporting yourself or someone you love who is feeling over-stretched by their many responsibilities.
Do you have elderly parents to care for and children still at home and a home to take care of and maybe grandchildren to look after and a career to maintain and managing the menopause… and are still able to get up in the morning and contribute to the world? If some (or all!) of these apply to you, then you are in possibly the most un-acknowledged group in society today, and have more stress and demands than at any other time in your life.
And I could add more to the list; as in my case the additional permutations of perhaps being divorced and remarried, separated families, step-children and ex-partners, as well as the presence of illness and bereavement amongst friends and family. I have no idea how I would have navigated these complex situations with the harmony that I have without the meditation and self-awareness resources that I have learned over the years.
This is where the hope and light to be found… if you know where to look and are willing to go and find it
You have the capacity to access the most profound connection to your spiritual essence, more readily available to you because of your experience of serving others and because this life experience has made you a very wise woman. Your wisdom has been honed by juggling other people’s needs, through painful life experience, and by your deep capacity for empathy and compassion.
And despite the physical exhaustion, you may feel, there is a growing inner strength, a hunger, to discover your place and your path. Now is the time to listen to this inner calling and find what you are seeking. And when you have found your infinite connection to spirit, you have something much bigger and valuable to offer the world.
‘This is all very well’ I hear you cry, ‘I only just have the energy to drag myself around the supermarket, let alone change the world’.
And yes, I understand, I am one of these women, navigating most of the above (with the exception of grandchildren), and yet I know this is a calling to be ruthless with my self-care. It takes courage and a commitment to value yourself, not an easy step to take when your own needs are buried under the responsibilities that you carry.
However, there is an urgency now. If you feel the calling it is essential for your health and emotional well-being to make the time and get connected to the source of your spiritual nourishment.
As a stretched women you are being asked to look again at your commitments and to consider the possibility that your biggest and most pressing responsibility at this time in the evolution of our planet is your own spiritual connection.
Consciousness needs us…
Reclaim some ‘you time’, however small. It is always possible, no matter what. I have been there, I know… there are no excuses. Ask for help, accept help, pay for help, do whatever it takes to get this time for you. Feel guilty and do it anyway if you have to. Acknowledge resentment too. And listen, really listen to the people around you with fresh ears, and investigate your beliefs around the situation, are they really true? Sometimes we project onto others through our own fears and inadequacies.
What about the other people in your life? And the men in your life? Do you still believe in the collective consciousness that it’s the woman’s job to do all the work? Allow yourself to be supported and let go of old limiting beliefs. Many of our men want to do this, are you letting them? Listen carefully, what are they really saying to you? Are you projecting? Are you resisting support? Do you feel it’s your job to do the caring? What’s really happening in your household? And then be present, really present, with the people around you when you are together. Give them all your attention so the time you do spend together is nourishing and meaningful.
When you are present, the ‘observer’ in you gives you valuable information. Are you a control freak? Consider the possibility that you do not need to control everything and that your loved ones are often far more capable than you think there are. In my experience, this has been a humbling realisation, that the world can and will carry on without me, and accepting this has not only allows others to step up, but they become empowered by me getting out of the way. Even crazier, and I have been ashamed to admit this to myself, is that often they didn’t want me doing things for them in the first place!
This has been a big one for me in the past. How uncomfortable to discover that some of the stress I was under was self-imposed. How much am I doing because I think I should. That I have to do it all. Hmm.
A stretched woman needs to enquire deep within to flesh out any issues of co-dependency. Co-dependency, according to Barbara Stanny in her book ‘Sacred Success’ is a condition where you ignore your own needs and desires to concentrate on, control, or caretake others.
In my practice, I see this all the time. It is so easy to slip into being the victim or being too tired to face the truth. But face it we must, for our own well being and anyone else’s we may inadvertently be holding back with our co-dependent tendencies.
So take time to meditate, order that recipe box, say ‘No’, reclaim your energy, take time off, go to a regular yoga class, find ways of making your heart sing and connect with the source of your inner wisdom. Meet any accusations of being ‘selfish’ and question the spiritual cliches that our lives are all about being in service.
By doing so, you will contribute to the well-being of the planet in more ways than you can ever imagine. And from a place of strength and wisdom
And this is true for all of us. It’s a magical life when we remember that God, the universe (or whatever word you choose) is the source of our abundance and well-being. Sometimes I forget! I think I have to do everything myself. Then I get tired and I remind myself to stop and rest and ask for help and allow it in. And to say ‘No’ more often. That’s a big one too. I am getting so much better at this these days, quite ruthless in fact. Sometimes I am very busy… doing nothing. It’s not really nothing, far from it, its everything… the days of deep rest and silence are my most productive and valuable times and I honour them with a passion.
Perhaps reach for your diary now and book yourself some ‘me’ time asap. Guilt-free.