In coaching successful women who excel in their careers, communities and philanthropic efforts, all too often I find that despite these accomplishments, women have difficulty showing their true, authentic, multi-faceted and perfectly flawed selves-especially to their partner. Women tend to believe there is an expectation to be all things to all people-pleasing, perfect and pretty. They are conditioned to avoid drawing attention to their feelings. After years of layering on the perfect outward persona, many women feel fragile and fearful of allowing themselves to be vulnerable, even with their partner. Underneath this facade, women long to be to be “the old me” again. The new Meryl Streep movie “Hope Springs” is a beautiful illustration of the women’s dilemma-“Can I be myself and still be desirable to my partner?”
If you think you might be so good at hiding the “flawed” you that you forgot who the real you is, here are 7 signs that you are hiding the real you:
1) You never slow down. Even in your down time with your partner, you have a long to do list that makes intimacy impossible. The Plan: Keep busy, don’t look back and he won’t notice that I fail at things just like everybody else. FYI…this includes total dedication to your children’s schedule while neglecting yourself.
2) You divert attention. You do not accept compliments and credit your partner or family for your accomplishments. The Plan: If people don’t see what I do, they can’t judge me.
3) You create a false physical appearance to hide behind. There are two ends of this spectrum. The first is the hair extension, Botox injected, spanks wearing “airbrushed” version of your true self. The second is the frumpy dressing, no eye contact making, extra weight carrying disguise. The Plan: Hide behind my external appearance to protect me and avoid hurt and rejection.
4) You use food as your emotional outlet. Food can give you pleasure and stuff the pain. It can be the one time and place you allow you to be you. This is especially evident if you have a secret indulgence food that you only eat alone. The Plan: I’ll suppress my feelings and eat myself numb. Then everything will be ok. (The same applies to shopping, watching TV and even exercising to avoid feelings. This is likely due to low endorphin levels in your brain and is easily corrected with the right nutrients. Find out if low endorphin is making you turn to food for comfort.
5) You go with the flow. Even if you have a different political opinion or disagree with vacation plans, you avoid telling your partner exactly what you think. Apologies are second nature. The Plan: If I don’t say what I think, he can’t disagree with me. Tell tale sign-you walk into the other room to have a phone conversation with your girlfriend and keep a secret password to your phone and computer.