Moms and the Identity Crisis - Insights from the MomWarrior Event
I was honored and excited to facilitate a workshop at a recent MomWarrior™ event in Santa Monica.
This fabulous movement, started by Tet Salva, is dedicated to building a community of moms looking for a sense of connection, community and shared purpose. Having coached many moms in my career - and as a mom of three myself - it was an opportunity to share my own experiences and to learn from the moms, and a few brave dads, who were joining in the panels, workshops and fun at the beautiful Annenberg Beach House.
I partnered with my good friend and fellow life coach, Cari Ziemianski, to run a session on Mom's and the Identity Crisis. As a working mom, this is a topic close to my heart and I was really excited to see where the conversation and dynamics took the group.
Here are three of my biggest insights from the day.
Mom or not, I think they’ll resonate for anyone juggling multiple roles in their lives and wondering ‘who they are’ in the midst of it all!
1. We ALL struggle
And most of that struggle goes on internally. Few of us talk or share openly about these challenges. Work-life balance, career success, challenges to our confidence, self-perception issues - whatever you can think of - it’s causing us stress! I shared some research that showed that 77% of Americans experience regular physical and emotional symptoms of stress. ‘How come the other 23% get off the hook?” demanded one of the participants!
Yes, we all have our own invisible struggles no one may ever know anything about. What hit home for me was how uncomfortable most of us are with sharing these struggles with others, and how, in many cases, we hide these struggles altogether.
Add to that, the carefully curated lives others present on social media only making us feel more pressured into wanting to have ‘got our act together’. It was great to hear everyone open up and, share, with candor and vulnerability, some of what was really going on inside for them as they juggle – and often struggle – to be great moms, partners, coworkers…and themselves!
So, I ask each of you – and myself – to always consider what may be going on under the surface for others who seemingly ‘have it all together’. Remember, each of us has our own invisible struggles. So, why not treat everyone you encounter with a little more kindness, love and respect? A check-in, a kind word and an offer of help, or even just the benefit of the doubt, may go further than you think when it comes to turning someone’s day around.
And maybe, just maybe, we can all open up a little more ourselves, knowing your candor or story will give space for others to share more of themselves – and be more of themselves - too.
2. We all need reminding that identity is not just about what you DO it's about who you ARE
In our workshop, we explored the shifts in identity that came about through parenthood and other significant life changes, with career related issues frequently popping up. When we looked at the impact of these events on our self-perception and identity we realized that while choice or circumstance can bring about a lot of change in our lives, this didn’t fundamentally impact who we are. Who we ARE was seems to be much more about our values, beliefs and the things that drive us, rather than about the ever-changing things that we DO as we move through life. Think of a tree - while its leaves may come and go with the seasons, the trunk remains constant.
We had the participants to do an exercise to remind them of the qualities and beliefs at the core of their identity, the constants that remained whatever life threw at them or whatever conscious choices they made: Who were you? Who are you now? Who do you want to be? We explored what we wanted to bring forward from the past and what we wanted to add – often things that had got lost along the way. For me, being positive, uplifting, spontaneous, helpful and grateful came up as things essential to who I am. And I realized, the spontaneity piece especially, had gotten lost along the way. Others wanted to keep hold of sparkle, determination, freedom, happiness, a soul-centered way of living and being…and much, much more.
Try this exercise yourself, particularly if you feel you are being pulled in different directions by the demands of your life or are questioning or exploring your self-identity in any way.
Who do you want to be? What are the qualities or characteristics you want to embody – what are those things that make you, uniquely you? The great thing is, that when you name these things, they create an instant reminder of WHO YOU ARE – and they’re things that you can be right now and every day. Thoughtful, funny, driven, inspiring, curious, productive? A teacher, a learner, a listener, an innovator, a care-giver? You get to decide every day, who you want to be. Be that person – be you – today!
3. We all want to be more in the NOW
When we asked the group who they wanted to be going forward, a clear theme emerged: a desire to be more present, to be less distracted. To let go of all the day to day worries and details. To stop pushing so hard to be more, or do more, or to be continually striving to achieve ‘something else’. Ultimately, the theme was that we all want to enjoy more and be grateful for the here and now.
If this rings true for you, a very simple yet effective way to shift your focus to the present, is to make a list of things that you ARE grateful for right now. The list will often be much longer than you think, and bring about an immediate and positive change in your perspective. Make a list – right now!
For me, I was certainly thankful to have the opportunity to participate in the MomWarrior event. I was very grateful to be surrounded by powerful and inspiring women – who are all far more awesome than they’ll ever give themselves credit for.