Traditionally capable, strong and hard-working, New Zealand women rolled up their sleeves and ‘got on with it’. Women played the central role in family life and community and willingly accepted this role. With the colonisation of New Zealand, women worked by men’s side equally committed and hardworking, inspired by the purpose of developing a new society together. They were seen to be strong and able to take positions of leadership. In 1893, they were the first women in the world to get the vote and in today’s multicultural society women are active in community, politics and the corporate world.
But today’s health statistics show that women are not faring well - the rates of exhaustion, anxiety, breast cancer, fertility problems, diabetes, eating disorders and mental health issues are alarming. Does this then suggest that something is not right in the way women are living, and that their achievements and ability to cope come at a cost?
We all notice that our world has become full of busy-ness and many of us feel the pressure of increasing external expectations - not just ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, but to satisfy the continual drive to do more, and be more. For women, this means that they now have multiple roles and are in a constant momentum to tick the boxes.
We all know mums who are running children around to multiple activities, or who come home from a stressful day at work and have the household to attend to. Working women can feel the need to overcompensate to prove they can do the job which often means they have to excel in their role to gain recognition. Media and advertising have told women what they need to do to be ‘beautiful, healthy, vibrant, sexy and ever youthful’. Buying into this ideal of perfection women can feel a constant pressure to stay looking young and fit.
We all know many women who keep going and going without giving themselves any chance to stop. The momentum of this busy-ness is taking its toll. So is there an underlying discontent which drives women to try to prove their worth ? A woman’s true sense of worth is a sensitive honoring of her own needs first, which is a natural expression of her true strength.
By trying to prove themselves women have lost connection with who they are and like men, have overridden their natural sensitivity and delicateness which is always a part of us, regardless of gender. Our connection alerts us as to when we need to stop and balance the momentum of movement with some quiet time to come back to ourselves and listen to the wisdom of our bodies.
This innate and deeply precious wisdom in every woman’s body will guide her in all that she needs. By stopping, listening and allowing herself to feel, she will express her qualities naturally as she moves through the world without holding back her power.
What would the world be like if women truly honoured themselves?
Rather than putting everyone else first and running to external expectations, women would live to their own beat and rhythm. Women would stand in their true place equal to men without any need to compete or prove themselves because they know their true worth.
From this perspective we can see that no amount of busy-ness or achievement will ever give us true fulfilment. We can then see we are being influenced by what is fed to us from external expectations. This often makes us feel we have no choice, for though so many choices are offered, they all come with the same energy of disconnecting us from who we truly are.
The way back is to stop the momentum by making space for true self-care therefore allowing women to listen more to their bodies so that they are not prey to self-doubt or undermining thoughts or words. This supports women to appreciate themselves and the quality they bring to everything they do which is what really matters rather than everything they do to tick the boxes.
Let us all as women grant ourselves permission to be all that we are by treating ourselves with greater love, respect and honouring. The entire world benefits when women choose to be themselves...
and the world is waiting.
 Around 3000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in New Zealand with over 600 deaths per year from breast cancer. It is the number one cancer for women. (The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation; http://nzbcf.org.nz/BREASTCANCER/Overview/BreastCancerinNZ/Fastfacts.aspx)
It is estimated 1 in 4 New Zealanders have experience of anxiety, panic attacks and phobias (Anxiety New Zealand Trust; http://www.anxiety.org.nz. Use of mental health services have seen a dramatic rise since 2008. (Ministry of Health; http://www.health.govt.nz/publication/mental-health-and-addiction-service-use-2013-14#keytrends)
There has been an overall rise in New Zealand in cosmetic surgery, with a big jump in the past 10 years. (New Zealand Association of Plastic Surgeons; http://plasticsurgery.org.nz
What is Mother’s Day truly about?
This article offers a variety of perspectives from eight women who explore and unpack ideals and beliefs around Mother’s Day. They expose that we are valuing more what women do, over and above the qualities they innately bring to their families and the wider community.
It is refreshing to read how mothers can be celebrated in a more meaningful and expansive way rather than just focusing on Mother’s Day for one day of the year.