I’ll admit it – I’m a very passionate, strongly opinionated and motivated woman. However, I have found that these endearing traits can be misunderstood and seen as aggressive, unfeminine and unwarranted – especially in the workplace. At times, when I acted as a leader or problem-solver, my intentions were met with mistrust and apprehension. When I said “No” to taking on extra work that would overload me, or asked to commit to the fourth party in a weekend that would drain me, I was met with shock and dismay. Some folks were offended that I wasn’t “giving it my all.” I went through a period of time where I hid my inner warrior, took on all those extra projects, worked seventy hours a week and attended every invitation that was extended to me. I was miserable. I was living my life for them, not me. It completely threw me off balance and I felt stifled. Then I read a wonderful story about the Indian Goddess Durga.
An evil demon, Mahisa, wanted more power to become invincible, but this could throw off the balance of life and enslave all of mankind. In order to be awarded this gift (boon), he had to perform many feats of devotion. He succeeded and was granted the additional power with one stipulation – he could live forever but could be killed by a woman (very similar to Lord of the Rings, where a woman kills the wraith). When the other gods found out, they engaged him in battle, but found it was impossible to defeat him. They all gathered to discuss the problem, and it was decided to combine their powers to create a new warrior, Durga. With her multitude of arms, she could use all the weapons from each of the gods. After hearing their plea, she assented with her own stipulation. Although she was created by the gods, they did not own her. She made it clear that she was her own person. The gods agreed – what else could they do? Durga went off to battle, defeated the evil Mahisa and restored balance and life to all.
I’ve learned that I can be a strong, liberated, unstoppable, and terrific woman. I can work on a team, lead the team or walk away from it. Accepting additional work, assisting others and being there for my friends is all about balance and liberation. Being comfortable with knowing how much time you have available and being able to say “No” when necessary are the cornerstones to keeping your inner warrior alive.
It’s Not About Them – It’s About You
We allow ourselves to think of others first and put ourselves second. Finding the balance between the two is difficult. Instinctively, we immediately try to their solve problems without taking a moment to look at the big picture. The next time you reach out to help someone or take on an extra project, stop. Take a moment to see what will happen if you head down that road. Will you be taking on too much? Will you overextend yourself? What else do you need to do with the time at hand?
But It’s Expected…
No, it isn’t. You might think they (your boss, fellow workers, family, parent, or lover), expect you to always available, but they don’t. Let me clarify, people who love you for you will understand that you are not always open like a 7-Eleven. You have needs and expectations just like they do. Be honest with them (and yourself). Know they will love you the same if you help or not. You just might find out who truly appreciates you for you.
Re-Align Your Deadline
Find out when the project or assistance is needed. Don’t commit until you get all the facts. Too often, we say “Yes” to please the other person. People often don’t really need something done this instant. Ask the person when it needs to be done before making a commitment.
Today, stop yourself from overextending and over-committing yourself. The next time someone asks if you could help them, take a moment, a long deep breath and think of what you want and need.
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