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I’m Siobhan. That’s pronounced Shiv-On. Which rhymes with Yvonne. My friends call me Shiv, and you can do the same. I’m a mother, lover, writer and a soulful executive coach. I help women figure out why you’re here, what you’re here to do, and get to work doing it, so that you can live your life in full colour without the hustle, grind and merely surviving.

Hello!

The real reason you’re not satisfied with life and work (+ what to do about it).

Untangling From Fear Uncertainty + Doubt

January 30, 2020

If you weren't satisfied with life at the start of 2020, I'm guessing things are less satisfying now....

 

2020 hasn’t exactly got off to a cracking start.

 

When I originally wrote this post, I was referring to the bushfires in Australia, US/Iran relations and Brexit.

 

But now, COVID19 is impacting us all.

 

We’re in huge global times. 

 

No matter where you are in the world reading this, my guess is that you are personally being impacted by global events and that your heart is breaking over something unravelling close to home and beyond.

 

No one is separate from our global ecosystem. 

 

I believe this pandemic is helping us realise this on a deeper level.....

 

With everything going on I believe that we're being called to hit the reset button and deeply question our choices in our work, relationships, health and life in general.

 

These times are calling us to wake up to the reasons why we're unsatisfied with life and how the status-quo of everyday life (pre-COVID) wasn't working anyway....

 


 

I believe that now is the time to step forward with our unique gifts, soul whisperings and desires to do what we came here to do and bring about the much needed change we desire to see in the world.

 

Not everyone needs to be the president, prime minister or CEO to bring about change. I believe that we can all do our own part in small and meaningful ways in our own communities.

 

It starts with us at an individual level. And together we rise.

 


 

Over the past year I’ve been questioning my own role and contribution as a global citizen and I’ve come to realise that the real work I’m here to do is:

 

To support women to uncover why they’re here, what they’re here to do and get to work doing it -- so that they can live a life they truly desire and make their own unique impact on the world simply by being themselves. 

 

In the process of distilling how I can best serve, I’ve been reflecting on the major challenges I’ve seen my clients facing (as well as my own)...

 

What I’ve come to realise is that there’s a deeper seated force at play causing the modern woman’s plight of….

 

Overwhelm. Burnout. Imposter Syndrome. Anxiety. Self-Doubt. Procrastination. Perfectionism. Analysis Paralysis. Guilt + Shame. Comparisonitis. 

 

I believe there's a deeper seated force at play which causes us to feel dissatisified with life and work even though things are technically "good."

 

This invisible force applies to you and I. 

 

I’m curious by the way: which of the challenges I mentioned above are you navigating right now?

 

Leave a comment and let me know, I’d genuinely love to know.

 

Spoiler Alert: My dominant flavour right now is analysis paralysis (which I dive into more, so read on).

 

Whatever YOU’RE feeling, I want you to know that you are not alone. 

 

Siobhan Barnes - Hong Kong Integrative Life Coach Career Coach - Neutral Decor Image21

 

Working with women from around the world, across different cultures and backgrounds, I’ve come to realise ALL women face similar frustrations and challenges (granted the degree to which we struggle is different based on privilege, culture, background, sexual orientation etc.) 

 

I believe we ALL face these challenges because of a deep seated force that permeates across ALL cultures. 

 

That deeper seated force causing us to doubt ourselves and our inherent enough-ness is…

 

THE PERFECT WOMAN IMPERATIVE.

 

You know the one?

 

The one which says that we need to be:

 

  • Nurturing patient mothers
  • Loving and loyal wives
  • Always-available friends
  • Respectful daughters
  • Supportive siblings
  • Successful independent women
  • Yoga toned, healthy lithe and strong bodied -- preferably a size 8
  • Active in the community

 

In a nutshell: “PERFECT.” ALL the blooming time.

 

Oh and let’s not forget how we have to balance how we show up so that we’re not “too much” or “too little” of anything - it’s important to get it juuuuusssst right.  

 

With all this pressure to get it “perfect,” it’s no wonder we’re stressed, anxious and overwhelmed. 

 

Am I right? 

 

In this week’s blog post we explore the antidote to the perfect woman imperative and how you can find freedom simply by being yourself. Because this is the reason you're not satisfied with your life.

 

This blog is an important one to read. I believe that unapologetically being who you really are IS an action of rebellion in today’s culture and society.  When one woman claims this for herself, she gives another permission to do the same. 

 

It's from this place that we find the courage, strength and conviction to stand up for what we believe in, make empowered changes, and create the positive ripple effect that’s so very needed in the world right now.

Siobhan Barnes - Hong Kong Life Coach Career Coach Street 3

Let’s explore the real reason you’re not satisfied with life and work (and what to do about it).

 


In today’s blog we’ll be exploring:

 

Part 1: Why we buy into the Perfect Woman Imperative

 

Part 2: How to identify where this is playing into YOUR own life

 

Part 3: The anti-dote and how to unhook from it

 


Part 1: Why we buy into the Perfect Woman Imperative

 

It all begins when we’re little kids...

 

Ahhh those precious years where our little minds are making sense of the world and learning the “rules” of how life works.

 

When we are little, we’re subconsciously taught the rules from (well meaning) parents, teachers and adults. The subtle messages we receive vary from:

 

+ Boys don’t cry 

+ Girls are calmer than boys

+ Children should be seen and not heard

+ Respect your elders. Period

+ Colour within the lines

+ Get the A

+ Plus so many more (side note: please leave a comment and let me know what message you received as a kid)

 

When we don’t fit the mould of what’s perceived as “right” and “wrong” by the adults in our life and society at large, we feel different.  We question our inherent enough-ness and doubt ourselves. 

 

“After all these adults know the rules, right?” we say to ourselves….

 

For example:

 

If you were an energetic and boisterous girl, maybe you were told to “calm down” or “act like a girl.”

 

If you were forced to kiss a random adult on the cheek to be polite, you might have squashed down that inner knowing that wanted to say “no” because you felt he/she was creepy.

 

If you didn’t get top marks in your tests or exams, you might have labelled yourself as “average” or “not as smart as everyone else.”

 

As kids we adapt our behaviour to get the love and support of those who raise us. This is instinctual not because we're weak but because we're hardwired for survival and belonging.

 

We then lose our individuality for the sake of fitting into our families, societies and communities. And if we fall short of those ideals, we tell ourselves we’re not enough or failing in some way. And so we compensate by trying to meet these outward expectations and strive to be perfect….

 

As humans we’re hard wired for love and belonging. So as kids, striving to meet outward expectations is a necessary survival mechanism.

 

But oftentimes we twist and contort trying to meet these perfect ideals and form belief systems that don’t serve us as adults.

 

Many of us don’t question how much we still buy into these limiting beliefs when we’re adults and in very different environments.

 

We squash down that voice that says "You're not satisfied with your life even though you've achieved X, got Y or hit Z milestone."

Siobhan Barnes - Hong Kong Integrative Life Coach Career Coach - Neutral Decor Image4

Yes, those belief systems you formed as a young child could very well still be running the show as an adult woman right now.

 

I believe that individually and collectively we still carry the subconscious belief that we learn as little girls: “you have to be perfect to be worthy enough to belong.” 

 

Society, media and advertising just continue to perpetuate this. Skim any women’s magazine aisle and you’ll see headlines like:

Snag the perfect summer dress that makes you look 10 pounds lighter. 

 

3 productivity hacks to help you twice done in half the time. 

 

The secret make up tip to make you look 5 years younger. 

 

The premise being: Who you are right now, as you are, isn’t enough. 

 

Not being enough is big business. 

 

We’re sold products we don’t really need.

 

We stay busy on endless projects continually striving to be more, do more and have more. 

 

We bend and flex to suit others needs and desires over and above our own. 

 

We carry on the need to be perfect. 

 

As Brene Brown,author and professor says…. 

 

“Perfectionism is not about striving for excellence or healthy striving….it’s a way of thinking and feeling that says this: ‘If I look perfect, do it perfect, work perfect and live perfect, I can avoid or minimize shame, blame and judgment.’  Perfectionism is the ultimate fear... People who are walking around as perfectionists... They are ultimately afraid that the world is going to see them for who they really are and they won’t measure up.”

 

It all comes back feeling like we’re NOT enough. 

 

Not matter what we do, what we achieve, how we look, it's never enough and so no wonder we're not satisfied with the carefully crafted lives that we've built.

 

It’s from this place that we all have our own individual flavour of struggle:

 

Overwhelm. Burnout. Imposter Syndrome. Distorted Body Image. Anxiety. Self-Doubt. Procrastination. Perfectionism. Analysis Paralysis. Guilt + Shame. Comparisonitis. 

 

You name it. Which leads me onto part 2. 

 


 

Part 2: How to identify where this is playing into YOUR life

 

 

As you read part 1, what resonated for you? 

 

Can you see how this subconscious belief of “not enoughness” and having to live up to the impossible ideal of the Perfect Woman is playing out in your life? 

 

Let me dive a little deeper into each of the flavours…..

 

Overwhelm: This looks like over-committing, over-giving, over-doing. With so much on, where do you start? This can also be a feeling of helplessness with the state of the world and in awe of the magnitude of what’s going on.

 

Burnout: Your body physically, energetically, emotionally and mentally is at breaking point and just can’t push anymore.

 

Imposter Syndrome: Feeling like you can never live up to the expectations of what you’re actually doing. 

 

Anxiety: Worrying about all the ways things can go wrong and using up excess energy on several outcomes (typically negative).

 

Self-Doubt: Questioning your every move and wondering if you’re doing it “right.”

 

Procrastination: Putting off actions you know you need to get done because they’re scary, uncomfortable, un-interesting or hard. 

 

Perfectionism: Believing that you have to do things perfectly in order to be doing a good enough job. 

 

Analysis Paralysis: Not wanting to make a mistake and staying stuck in planning, strategising, scenario-comparison mode. 

 

Guilt + Shame: Feeling the need to punish yourself or feel bad about yourself because of something you did/do, how you behaved or something that happened. 

 

Comparisonitis: The constant fear of not living up to a certain ideal based on what others are doing, how they look and the choices they make. 

 


 

Siobhan Barnes - Hong Kong Life Coach Career Coach Blue Street 2

Which one do you relate to most? 

 

The truth is we often relate to a few of the above flavours but there will be one dominant theme coming up in your life right now. 

 

Once you’ve identified your dominant theme you can start to question:

 

Q1: What’s causing this feeling of [insert your dominant theme]?

 

Q2: Am I putting unrealistic expectations on myself (aka buying into the Perfect Woman Imperative)?

 

Q3: Are the things I’ve committed a genuine heart-felt desire or am I doing this from a place of “having to”?

 

Q4: What are my next steps so that I can move through this [insert your dominant theme]?

 

Whatever things, activities, people or commitments that are coming from a place of have-to or obligation gets reconsidered, evaluated and re-established. 

 

Whatever is a genuine heart-felt desire stays. 

 


 

Here’s an example from my own life. 

 

Identified theme: I’m riding waves of overwhelm

 

Q1: What’s causing this feeling of overwhelm?

 

I’m feeling overwhelmed with all the "doing" that's necessary right now.

 

I'm feeling overwhelmed with the chorus of questions from my kids as I'm homeschooling them and trying to keep things fun and light hearted when sometimes I'm frustrated AF.

 

I'm feeling overwhelmed by the state of the world and my role as a global citizen, mother, coach etc.

 

Right now I feel like I want to do more and yet I have a certain capacity with my commitments in my family life and business → cue the guilt over my privilege that I don’t have to deal with specific issues right in my backyard (yes Hong Kong has its own challenges, but I’m further away from it all)  → which compels me to want to do more → cue overwhelm with questions like “where do I start?”

 

Q2: Am I putting unrealistic expectations on myself (aka buying into the Perfect Woman Imperative)?

 

Subconsciously I have the expectation to do more and be more than my current capacity allows.

 

The truth is, I don’t have to try and step into more right now. This time is really an opportunity to get clear on what's important, look at my privilege and assess my priorities and focus....

 

Q3: Are the things I’ve committed a genuine heart-felt desire or am I doing this from a place of “having to”?

 

Some things are: like using this time to get to know my kids learning styles and how they approach the world.

 

Some things aren't: like having to exercise every single day.

 

Q4: What are my next steps so that I can move through this overwhelm?

 

Take the time and schedule space in my diary to find my centre before the start of the day. No matter what. Whether it's the weekday or the weekend. This will help me get clear about what to prioritise and what's really important. 

 

 

Now it’s your turn!

 

Identify your dominant theme and then answer these questions:

 

Q1: What’s causing this feeling of [insert your dominant theme]?

 

Q2: Am I putting unrealistic expectations on myself (aka buying into the Perfect Woman Imperative)?

 

Q3: Are the things I’ve committed a genuine heart-felt desire or am I doing this from a place of “having to”?

 

Q4: What are my next steps so that I can move through this [insert your dominant theme]?

 

Side note: Please leave a comment below with your answers, I’d love to hear from you!

 


 

Part 3: The antidote and how to unhook from it

 

Fundamentally the Perfect Woman Imperative comes back to having to “be” more, “do” more and “have” more in order to be worthy of love and belonging. 

 

Once you’ve identified your flavour of frustration which by the way is a result of being human (and realistically not living up to this unrealistic ideal of the Perfect Woman), the antidote is embrace who you REALLY are and YOUR truth.

 

As Brene Brown says in her quote…the underlying fear perfectionists have is being... 

 

“afraid that the world is going to see them for who they really are and they won’t measure up.”

 

So naturally the key is to get comfortable with who you really and truly embrace and embody the truth that…

 

Who you are is enough.

 

Just writing this gives me full body chills because it’s a huge rebellion in a society and culture that tries to tell us we’re not. 

 

So as a go-getting woman who wants to strive and grow -- you step into a more fulfilling, joyful and pleasure filled experience and journey that comes from a place of genuine heart-felt desire vs. lack and not enough-ness. 

 

It starts on an individual basis. And then together we rise. 

 


 

So there you have it, the real reason you’re not satisfied with life and work (+ what to do about it). 

 

It’s not your fault, it’s the Perfect Woman we’ve all been taught.

 

To recap, here's what we covered today:

 

Part 1: Why we buy into the Perfect Woman Imperative

 

Part 2: How to identify where this is playing into YOUR own life

 

Part 3: The anti-dote and how to unhook from it

 

Before you go I want to hear from you and know:

 

+ What are you taking away from today’s post?

 

+ How is the Perfect Woman Imperative playing out in your own life?

 

I’d love to know! Feel free to share below or come and join us in our private Soul Aligned Professional Women Facebook Group to dive deeper. You can join us by clicking here.

 

Here’s to loving you as you are right now, a beautiful one. 

 

With love,

Siobhan

xoxo

 

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FREE SOUL ALIGNED WOMAN ACTIVATION WORKSHOP

GET YOUR BRIGHT LIFE WEEKLY 

Finding
clarity

Connecting your mind + body + soul

HOW CAN I BEST SUPPORT YOU?

Sustainable productivity + focus

Navigating transitions + tough times

Honouring your callings + desires

Untangling from fear, uncertainty + doubt

Wanna know more?

I’m Siobhan. That’s pronounced Shiv-On. Which rhymes with Yvonne. My friends call me Shiv, and you can do the same. I’m a mother, lover, writer and a soulful executive coach. I help women figure out why you’re here, what you’re here to do, and get to work doing it, so that you can live your life in full colour without the hustle, grind and merely surviving.

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