Are you trying to be superwoman?
I used to be you.
I had a conversation with one of my dearest, oldest and darling best girl friends the other day.
And in the space of 30 minutes I counted her say the word BUSY 14 times.
She’s addicted to busy. And I smiled (and fretted a little internally with worry) whilst I listened to all the ways in which she is busy. I could hear the teary-ness and weariness in her voice but yet a sense of pride in just how busy she was managing to be! I urged her to slow down a little, but I know it floated overhead.
I know because I used to be her. In her mind she is progressing and achieving at warp speed. And she is. Externally.
She has the career, the babies, the cars, the house and the new porch just put on the back of the house to ‘create more value’ for their home equity. And that’s awesome.
A few big ticks there in the eyes of society in a modern world.
But what is the internal equity of 'your home’?
But what is the internal cost of having and doing it all?
I woke up from the belief that busy and progression is the be all and end all – it was a rude thump followed by a long crash. But it was a blessing.
Here is my personal Superwoman story.
I’m sure there are parts of this vulnerable share that you can relate to.
For 8 years I ran a mental health retreat.
I got busy building the business from scratch (and I mean I borrowed $500 from a post paid google adwords account to start the busy-ness and crossed my fingers). I had no formal mental health training and everyone laughed at the idea in the industry. I was a self taught business woman and everything from marketing to building the website was all me.
I was simply a yoga teacher with a passion to save the world one person at a time.
Looking back it was a brave and bold move.
But I had a vision.
I worked nights building the website whilst my new baby slept.
I did everything myself.
I answered the phone in a different voice and name to pretend I had staff. But really it was just me.
I sent the quotes.
I booked the clients.
I was the client transport service.
Sometimes I was even the chef.
I did the accounts, sales and marketing.
I ran with the client.
I did yoga with the client.
Then I’d run home to breast feed.
I studied to be a coach on the side.
Then I learned to coach the client too.
I really was a one stop shop now.
I managed the team.
I meditated with the client.
I supported the client.
I supported the team.
I pulled clients off ledges and recreated their lives.
I cooked all of our meals from scratch.
I cleaned the house.
I cared for my baby.
I cared for a toddler.
I walked myself, my child and my husband through the terror of autism.
We healed, we grew and walked out the other side of that horror.
I tried to remember to take time for my husband.
I grew the business.
I took risks.
Some failed, some worked.
I stressed. A lot.
I expanded the business.
I built 2 retreat centres.
I missed births, marriages, family get togethers and seeing friends because I was always ‘too busy’.
I never took time off.
I snatched time to myself when I wasn’t too busy.
Then people started calling me SUPERWOMAN.
They told me how amazing I was.
I was admired. And I liked it.
But inside I was cracking.
None of my clients or team ever really knew nor did my stress ever affect them – I gave my all to them until there was really nothing left. And it helped that I truly loved loved loved what I did.
People started saying – ‘I just don’t know how you do it all’
My family started saying they were worried about me.
My partner just disconnected and gave up.
Then by the stroke of god or the universe of whatever is out there - the business broke without notice.
It folded overnight due to circumstances that were out of my control. Forces of nature you could say. I think the universe had my back in some weird way.
The website crashed. And it all when up in smoke.
10 years and thousands of lives were saved. The business had grown to become one of the top mental health retreats in the world with people flying in from every corner of the globe.
More than 30 employees lost their job when it crashed.
I stressed alot. I felt constantly sick.
10 years of work was gone over night.
It was just me that was left.
Accept superwoman was more like :-/
When I woke up from a decade of busy – I had an out of control 8 year old who desperately needed her mum.
And my relationship was in the dirt.
Luckily for me during all of that I always kept yoga, meditation, mindfulness, amazing food and more awesome tools in my life. Or my health would have been in the toilet along with the other areas of my life.
So I survived being superwoman.
But imagine if I didn’t have those tools?
Imagine if I had done it differently?
How for someone that knew so much about all the tools for stress break themselves you ask?
Because I was addicted to busy.
And I had a very good case of Super Woman Syndrome.
The misguided belief that busy = progression is what I call Superwoman Syndrome.
In my experience you will never wear that cape for very long before the cape just falls off and you fall over.
Now from personal experience I can tell you that there is a very different way to move forward in your life and not lose yourself. I look back at what I tried to do in a day now and laugh. I feel physically exhausted thinking about it.
Thankfully that decade taught me a lot. And has led me here to being online with you. Through the eyes of a 40 year old who has been in bed with burn out more times then she would have liked.
You see I always thought I couldn’t stop. Because I needed to help everyone. And it turns out I still can. I just had to stop to see it differently.
I’ll tell you all about what I learned when I had to stop in this short video – from Busy to Balance.
You can learn to progress and build a life you love at the same time. And boy is balance better than burn out.
Step 1 - You Don't Have To Kill Yourself to Succeed
Is there something in you that feels that you have to kill yourself to grow? Now I’m not afraid of hard work. In fact I love it. But underneath what I was doing was a deep belief that I had to do it all to have it all.
Tip – Self Reflection. Make it apart of your life.
Look closely at why you are really doing sooooo much and get clear on your worth. Be willing to get real with the why you are doing what you are doing. And be willing to hear your own answers.
Step 2 – I Am Worthy
A wise woman and mentor during that crash said something that stuck with me – the affirmation of ‘I can have all of this and more with ease’.
The word ease felt unreal and foreign. And asking for what I wanted felt selfish. Then I realised that there is enough of everything for everyone. Enough time, enough peace, enough abundance. Somewhere I’d created the belief that I had to kill myself to get what I wanted. Rather than the belief that there is enough for all and I can have it with ease.
Step 3 – Get A Mentor
There was a lot of my internal language that was built around the wording of ‘can’t’ ‘won’t’ and ‘but’. Like I ‘can’t’ stop or ________ will happen. It won’t work if I change it to be like _______ or but but but but.
I learned that this language is common when we are overwhelmed and we really don’t even think we have the time to look at the situation from fresh eyes – because we are so deep in it. I was forced to stop. But what if stopping and getting a fresh perspective often could help us avoid the whole crash?
Tip – stop regularly and get a mentor. Make time. Your mentor can be anyone. But you need to listen to the perspectives of others. There is always new solutions and room to move.
Do you know someone who has Superwoman Syndrome?
If you do you might want to share this email with them.
Today I would love to know if you’ve ever tried or are trying to be superwoman and what steps from the video you can use to STOP.
Leave me comments and questions below.
Love Heidi x
If you are still wearing that cape then listen up - the Balance & Beyond 7 day at home mini course covers how to lose Superwoman and find your worth. Access it here.