The Superwoman Syndrome

The Superwoman Syndrome

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Back in the day, women would take on their nine to five jobs, raising children, looking after their husbands, hobbies like gardening and time to cook dinner with a side of love.

“These women are constantly striving to accomplish everything possible in a perfect manner and have not learned how to put themselves as a top priority. Most often, they do not have the time or energy to devote to themselves. Even when having the time, they may consider themselves selfish to indulge in self-pampering or to simply provide themselves quiet time alone. Superwomen always set standards that are unnaturally high, are beyond reach or reason. They tend to strain compulsively toward impossible goals. They measure self-worth entirely in terms of productivity and tangible accomplishments. Unfortunately, by doing so, these Superwomen are making life much more stressful and losing out on its many joys.” – Dr. Madeline Ann Lewis, from article Overcoming the Superwoman Syndrome’

It hasn’t much changed; it has only gotten more strenuous, where women feel that they can take on the world and then some. While we can attest to having the superwoman syndrome (Shaevitz, 1984), some of us have either been able to barely get by with functioning or can’t live without having a million and one things to do as they get by just fine.

“Superwomen push themselves to excel, and the cycle begins: Once they excel in one area, they are not satisfied until they excel in another area. When they cannot excel in every area, their self-worth diminishes and the Superwoman Syndrome presents itself in physical, psychological or interpersonal symptoms.” – Dr. Madeline Ann Lewis, from articleOvercoming the Superwoman Syndrome’

The Superwoman Syndrome

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In this day and age it’s either you were lucky enough to inherit an empire or married a wealthy chap or you are like the majority of us who have to work overtime just to make ends meet. It’s not to say that we are poor, we just have to work a little harder to maintain a certain comfortable lifestyle.

The Superwoman Syndrome

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Granted, one does get most goals accomplished and there are benefits to being a superwoman:

  • People watch in amazement as to how you manage
  • You get a lot done in less time
  • You master the art of multitasking
  • Time management and other soft skills help you through your tasks
  • You get a feeling of accomplishment

On the flip of the coin, there can be many drawbacks to being a superwoman:

  • Stress masks itself and manifests at inopportune times in bouts
  • Easily susceptible to experiencing burnout
  • Feeling of constantly needing to please everyone
  • A million and one things to do and not enough time to complete it
  • The feeling of being overwhelmed
  • Experiencing physical drawbacks like mood swings, irritability, emotional outbursts, inability to sleep, muscle tension, etc.
  • Experiencing cognitive issues like memory problems, inability to concentrate or indecisiveness, etc.
  • Increased disappointment if targets are not met
  • Higher probability of developing mental health issues with self-esteem or depression

Coping is the best solution to those who decide to take on numerous tasks at once for whatever reason with only twenty-four hours in the day:

  • Treat yourself once in a while
  • Make those to do lists and stick to them
  • Gain support and have a person or persons in your corner who have your back
  • Accept defeat and look forward to tomorrow and plan to that
  • You can only do a day’s work
  • Be grateful for what you achieve when you achieve it, however big or small

Do you feel that you are a superwoman? What are the benefits and what challenges do you face? How do you cope?

The Superwoman Syndrome

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By Alexandra Daley

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