Mind Power – Self-Love

Hands up to all the women who feel like they need to save ev­ery­one! News­flash: Su­per­heroes only ex­ist in movies. In­stead of try­ing to fix the world’s prob­lems, let’s help you pri­ori­tise yourself for a change


Of­ten on the quest to be­ing great mothers, sup­port­ive part­ners and hav­ing thriv­ing ca­reers, many women find them­selves un­able to say no to all the things that need their at­ten­tion. This of­ten leads to burnout, ex­haus­tion and feel­ing unin­spired. In fact, a 2015 study re­leased by Pharma Dy­nam­ics, a com­pany that spe­cialises in the treat­ment of men­tal health, found that South African women were on the brink of a break­down. The re­search, which looked at 900 work­ing women be­tween the ages of 25 to 55, found that 38% of work­ing moms felt they were stretched be­yond break­ing point.

Women hold up half the sky. Of­ten how­ever, it seems that women are do­ing a lot more than their share. So­ci­etal con­di­tion­ing and cul­tural ex­pec­ta­tions are part of the rea­son.

“Women are con­di­tioned to be peo­ple-pleasers. From the time we are small girls, women are so­cialised to fit in. We have been con­di­tioned to live like that for years,” says Thandi Vellem a neuro-lin­guis­tic pro­gram­ming cer­ti­fied life coach.

The no­tion has been fur­ther

pop­u­larised by thought lead­ers such as writer and tele­vi­sion mogul Shonda Rhimes in her renowned book, The Year of Yes and min­is­ter Greg Coot­sona’s lit­er­ary of­fer­ing, Say Yes to No. While it might be life chang­ing to open yourself up to new ex­pe­ri­ences by agree­ing to try new things, be­ing overly agree­able and say­ing yes to every­thing can have its down­side.


Psy­chol­o­gist War­ren Thomp­son ex­plains that weak bound­aries can lead to other peo­ple’s needs com­ing be­fore your own, which “can lead to feel­ings of los­ing con­trol over your life. We only have so much en­ergy to give so it should be used wisely and on things that are im­por­tant to us”. A woman stat­ing her bound­aries and tak­ing charge in work or other sit­u­a­tions may be la­belled as con­trol­ling; where a man in the same po­si­tion would be said to be show­ing lead­er­ship, Thomp­son ex­plains.

Hav­ing weak bound­aries can also make you vul­ner­a­ble to be­ing ill­treated, open to abuse and be­ing vi­o­lated. Vellem says: “This is be­cause you haven’t said to peo­ple, ‘hey this is how far you can go’, or ‘this is how you speak to me’.” It also means that you are not liv­ing up to your fullest po­ten­tial be­cause you’re con­stantly try­ing to please oth­ers, Vellem adds.


Thomp­son says the idea that women need to be docile leads to them sec­ondguess­ing choices and bound­aries they place in their lives; not be­cause of self­doubt but rather the doubt caused from oth­ers’ per­cep­tions and re­ac­tions.

It’s this in­tense de­sire to please that of­ten leads women car­ry­ing an over­whelm­ing bur­den in their house­holds, friend­ship groups and even at work. While bound­aries are nec­es­sary in en­sur­ing that our own needs are met, and we are happy and healthy enough to meet the needs of oth­ers in our lives, women tend to adapt and re­duce their own needs to en­sure ev­ery­one around them is happy, Thomp­son says. A study done by the Hu­man Sciences Re­search Coun­cil to de­ter­mine how much women are tak­ing on, found that women are do­ing a lot more than

their male coun­ter­parts. The study, ti­tled Shoul­der­ing The Bur­den: Gen­der at­ti­tudes to­wards bal­anc­ing work

and fam­ily, found that South African women carry a dual bur­den of work­ing full­time and tak­ing care of the home.

At least 55% of all em­ployed women al­ways or usu­ally cared for sick fam­ily mem­bers com­pared with 11% of em­ployed men. Fur­ther­more, em­ployed South African women with a part­ner spent on av­er­age six more hours a week on house­hold work than their male coun­ter­parts.

A more dis­heart­en­ing find­ing by the re­searchers in the study is the fact that “Eight out of every 10 em­ployed South African women with a part­ner re­ported they ei­ther al­ways or usu­ally pre­pared the house­hold meals, com­pared to less than one in 10 em­ployed men.” Given these sta­tis­tics, it’s not sur­pris­ing that women are fa­tigued and over­whelmed.


In­stead of feel­ing an­gry that peo­ple are tram­pling all over you — from friends to your boss — set­ting lim­its on how you want to be treated can help you over­come that frus­tra­tion. By set­ting strong bound­aries, you’ll be able to ar­tic­u­late your worth and dic­tate how you ex­pect to be treated by peo­ple. “Bound­aries help us pri­ori­tise what is im­por­tant by pro­tect­ing these things in our life. Should we have no bound­aries, there is no way to en­sure what we want hap­pens, and so one can never move for­ward and achieve in life as ev­ery­one else comes first,” Thomp­son con­tin­ues. Here are tips on how to do that:

1. Let go of guilt. Set­ting bound­aries, par­tic­u­larly with fam­ily mem­bers, can be chal­leng­ing be­cause we feel as though we owe them our loy­alty. Vellem says the first way to do this with friends and loved ones, is go­ing back to them and apol­o­gis­ing to them for let­ting them feel as though they can take ad­van­tage of you. Then ex­plain to them, in a calm man­ner, what it is you can give to them and how.

“It does not have to be ac­ri­mo­nious,” she says.

2. Get to know yourself. Boundary­set­ting runs par­al­lel with know­ing yourself, and ac­cept­ing who you are, Vellem says. She adds that women dilly-dally around set­ting bound­aries be­cause they don’t know enough about them­selves.

She sug­gests em­bark­ing on a self­dis­cov­ery jour­ney – read books, at­tend sem­i­nars, or see a life coach.

3. Set­ting bound­aries in the fam­ily. Time is a great one that fam­ily uses up and im­poses them­selves on. It is im­por­tant for you to let go of the guilt and the feel­ing that you owe them. Set time aside for con­nect­ing with them, as it is im­por­tant, but al­lo­cate that where it fits in your cal­en­dar each month, Thomp­son sug­gests.

4. Set­ting bound­aries in a re­la­tion­ship. Rom­coms make us be­lieve that we must give every­thing to our ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships, but this leads to ex­haus­tion.

Thomp­son says com­mu­ni­ca­tion is key. If some­thing is al­ways mak­ing you up­set, it is im­por­tant to dis­cuss in a healthy way.

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