Earlier in the week, I wrote about denial: the powerful defense mechanism that prevents us from connecting with our feelings and facing potentially painful realities.
Staying busy keeps us from connecting with our feelings — it’s one of the ways women avoid. Why do we women deny our true feelings?
- Pressured to be pleasers. Hopefully, the gender pressure for women to be pleasers is beyond dispute. Women feel this pressure and, understandably, they give in. Pleasing comes naturally. I grew up in the deep South. I learned early on that this is an important quality women must convey. Now having lived in the Midwest for 20 years, I still see a strong social stigma cast at women who stray from this role.
- Don’t know how to do it differently. Learning how to respectfuly and appropriately get one’s needs met is supposed to be taught. But by whom? I suppose there are a lucky few out there who got advice from adults well versed in the art of boundaries, self care and properly resolving conflict. Everyone else has to learn through trial, error and practice.
- Don’t feel OK asking for what they need. Taking quality care of one’s self is becoming more of a modern sensibility. Many women, however, remain hardwired for self-sacrifice — and to a detrimental degree.
- Hate conflict. Conflict is difficult for many people, and women are taught to avoid it. To make matters worse, if you have experienced trauma, it will greatly impact your willingness to deal effectively with conflict. Avoidance can seem like a great alternative when the other option brings on scary and uncomfortable feelings.
- Feel powerless. If you are feeling powerless in a relationship, there are probably good reasons. You have to deal with gaining strength and feeling like an equal before you can convey your needs from a position of strength. Others can naturally sense a lack of confidence and fear. We are all really just animals, right? In a primitive way, it’s like others can smell it on you. You aren’t going to get your piece of the pie unless you truly believe and feel that you have a right to it. And if you are in a relationship with a person who demands that they have all of the power, this will of course lead you to feel more powerless. Your powerlessness is a complicated and deep rooted lie you are telling yourself. You are more powerful than you know.
What do you think?
Cherilynn Veland is a therapist living in Chicago.
She also blogs about home, work, life and love
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