They grew up in a society that told them anything was possible. A society that told them that having it all was possible.
Yet what I see in my clinic is a generation of women who are living and breathing the pressure of attempting to 'have it all'.
You see 'we' (Generation X and Y) have been nurtured and socialised on the premise that we should aspire to have it all. That we CAN have it all, and the instareel of perfection on platforms such as Instagram, purport that everyone else is living their best life.
My clients tell me that perfection looks like this:
The instaworthy holidays.
The perfect home.
The perfect children.
The corporate career.
The social life.
The big circle of best friends.
The perfect body.
The capsule wardrobe.
The side hustle.
The aspiring entrepreneur
The financial independence.
To be the perfect wife or partner.
To be the perfect mother.
Time to exercise/eat healthy/get a good nights sleep.
Time to grow and time to nurture our soul.
And when ticking the box of perfection on all of these levels is our barometer of success, we set ourselves a bar which simply isn't achievable; it feeds comparison and strengthens a negative sense of self worth.
I've worked with 100's of women, and 99% of them have a default setting in their sub-conscious that includes these two beliefs:
I'm not good enough
Everything has to be perfect
It's the striving for perfection on so many levels, which feeds the default belief that 'I'm not good enough' - because every single time we fail to deliver that perfection driven pursuit of happiness, we internalise it that we are somehow 'not good enough'.
So we try harder.
When actually, trying harder is a scatter gun approach to happiness. We are trying to deliver on too many things. We are plate spinning on an epic scale. And the only thing that thrives is our negative sense of self worth.
Brene Brown describes this as a 'faulty circuit'.
And for so many of the women I work with, what they want more than anything is the permission to step off the perfection hamster wheel. To focus on 'just' being the CEO or 'motherhood' without the judgement, that they've somehow given up on humanity if they don't want children, but do instead want to focus on the career. Or that they've sold out on the 'girl power' mantra of the 90's if they say that they want to focus on solely being a mum. That somehow 'just being a mum' isn't enough.
And I'm not convinced that society has caught up with Generation Perfection. The lack of flexible working means that too many women have to make a choice - when actually what they want is balance.
We are a generation of women who don't just want balance, we need it. It's no longer about the 'work/life' balance. It's simply balance on all levels that we yearn for.
Because when we lack balance, that's when the overwhelm kicks in. That's how the anxiety manifests. Because trying to be everything to everyone leads you up a one way street to burn out, to a sense of daily failure, and to a distinct lack of purpose. It's a crisis so many women reach way before 'mid-life'.
Perfection does not exist.
What does exist is your ability to achieve in life the things that matter to you. We are a generation of women who can achieve anything we set our minds to. We really can. But we have to ditch this driving belief that we have to deliver on everything. That we can't ask for help. That we can't just focus on the things that set our own heart and soul on fire - whatever that is.
Get absolutely clear on what YOUR success measures are and then get captivated by pursuing your own level of success. Because there is no comparison when you are focusing on what matters in your life.
And what you want changes at different points in your life - and thats ok. You are evolving and growing and balance is wholly personal.
There is no comparison.
Your lane, based on your needs and wants at any given time in your life is the only place to be, and if you aren't sure what it looks like, hop in and start exploring.
Catherine Asta Labbett, is an award winning Female Focused Psychotherapist. She works with women all over the world offering skype and in person therapy from her Yorkshire clinic base, and in 2019 was awarded a Fellow from the National Council Psychotherapists for her outstanding contribution to her profession.
Catherine works with women at all stages of their life and has also has a growing celebrity client base. The resident expert on the BBC Radio Leeds award winning Stephanie Hirst show and a regular contributor in the media - as heard and seen on BBC Radio 5 LIVE, Grazia, Marie Claire, Women's Health Magazine, Boots, Virgin and more.
Catherine was the winner of the Northern Blog Awards 2018 'One to Watch' and a finalist in the UK Blog Awards 2019. She is a finalist for 'Mentor of the Year' 2019 with Forward Ladies and was voted in the Top 10 extraordinary women in the 2019 Knomo London Awards.
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