Gina Mitchell stands for women being empowered and owning their own lives while going through midlife and menopause.
I was talking to a friend of mine a while ago.
I will call her Jane. She is in her 50s. She has a lovely supportive husband and a grown-up son who still lives at home. Her mother has been ill for a long time and Jane has been looking after her.
So, a bit of history about Jane. She works full time, goes home from work to cook for her family then drives to her mother’s house to cook for her. She is exhausted and at her wits end. When I asked her why her husband and son could not cook and take on more responsibility, she explained that this is what had always happened and that she had it under control.
She also admitted that she was a bit of a control freak and realised that she needed to let go. It’s just that she really didn’t know how to.
Women are often their own worst enemy! After we chatted she agreed that her husband and son could do the cooking and take more responsibility. She also came on as a client so she could get all the help she needed.
One of the first things we did together was to clearly define her top values and personal boundaries1. Rules!
It is also really important that she had a discussion with her husband and family after she had decided what her boundaries needed to be. She needed to talk about the necessary changes so that she could do some self-care and look after herself.
I also recommended that she read a book ‘Boundaries in Marriage’ by Henry Cloud and John Townsend2.
When you are a mother of young children, your main concern is for the children. You do everything and anything for them. You protect them, feed them and nurture them. It is your job to ensure they stay alive and eventually become the happy and successful adults you want so much for them.
As part of the job it is important to keep the house running. In my grandmother’s day, most women did not have paid work. They stayed home and ‘kept house’. I suspect that it was a bit easier then compared to today as women now not only need to keep the family and home running, but many also have full time jobs and careers. I think most people would agree with me that it is a lot more stressful. This is despite all the mod cons we have today in our homes and men being more involved in child rearing. Having said that, in our culture, the lion’s share of the responsibility still rests on the woman.
A woman has to make an awful lot of self-sacrifice to ensure her family is looked after well. There is no time to think much about herself.
It is our hormones that keep us there. Yes ladies! It’s true! They drive us to reproduce, nurture children and others. It’s an evolutionary thing. As a consequence, personal boundaries become blurred and may even disappear.
So, when menopause hits and the hormones decrease in our bodies, many women feel angry and frustrated. As the hormonal veil lifts, it is no wonder we stand there asking ourselves ‘what about me?’
Menopause is an opportune time to have a good look at ourselves, our lives and our families. It provides the impetus to make changes which will allow us to have a great life and set goals that serve US for the next stage of our life.
It is a perfect time to really define or even redefine boundaries around work, home, family and friends.
So how do you do it?
Here’s a recipe I used with Jane and use with my other clients.
- Brainstorm what is important to you. Close your eyes and keep asking yourself the question ‘what is most important in my life now?’ and keep writing down words that come to you. When you hit a blank spot, just give yourself some time for more answers to come up. You can repeat words if they come up again. Allow yourself 4 blank spots before you stop.
- Check out the bunch of words you have written and narrow down the 5 most important ones to you. These are your top 5 values.
- For each value, write down everything that has to happen to have that value honoured in your life.
- Study the list of what has to happen and underline/highlight what is NOT happening now and then set yourself tasks to ensure that they will happen.
I will give you one example using my top value (remember you will be working with 5).
My top value is FREEDOM.
What has to happen for me to honour this value is
- Travelling at least twice a year to someplace I want to go
- To choose what I want to do each day
- Have a husband who is happy for me to do as I choose
- Have people in my life who understand and accept me for who I am
- Be spontaneous
- Having a cleaner for the house
- Communicate my top values with my loved ones, friends and colleagues. How will they know otherwise?
For me, all of this happens (most of the time). I have set my life up like this. If you look at your list and find that something is not happening, then set up actions to ensure it happens for you.
In her book ‘Transform Your Boundaries’, Sarri Gilman3 also has some sage advice on boundaries and is well worth reading.
If your top values are not being honoured, you will feel frustrated and unhappy. That’s the truth. If your values are continually being stepped on, then you need to do something about it. It’s YOUR responsibility.
If you feel like you would like some help with finding what your top values are and setting your own boundaries, just check in for a no obligation quick chat with me by clicking on the link.
And also check out my website www.midlifecoachingforwomen.com.au
- Psychology Wiki. https://psychology.wikia.org/wiki/Personal_boundaries#:~:text=Personal%20boundaries%20is%20an%20aspect,someone%20steps%20outside%20those%20limits.
Accessed 22nd October 2020
- Cloud H and Townsend J. ‘Boundaries in Marriage’, Harper Collins. September 2006. Accessed 22nd October 2020
- Gilman, S. ‘Transform Your Boundaries’, Island Bound Publishing. USA. April 2014. Accessed 22nd October 2020