Every month, Women’s Republic writes a letter to its female readers. This aims to empower women by having honest conversations about how we subconsciously put men on a pedestal. The series will help women to de-center themselves from the men in their lives, unlock their ‘shakti’ (power) and re-focus their energies on enhancing their own mental and physical wellbeing. Please reach out to us if you want something covered or have a question you’d like us to answer.
I hope this letter finds you either on or shortly after World Mental Health Day! Throughout these letters, I have emphasized how important it is for women to maintain a healthy state of mind – and the ways in which men can be responsible for uprooting this.
An Emotionally Overworked Woman
Men overwork women to the point that it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary to them. And without boundaries, women are encouraged to pile on the burdens on their shoulders. I’m tired of seeing women break their backs as a result of the pressures created by men,. The remedy to this chronic (metaphorical) back pain? Establishing boundaries.
It’s so easy to love. But when we’re in too deep, it’s almost impossible to recognize when it becomes excessive and harmful to our mental health.
I want women to be optimistic about love, but I also want them to be real about their expectations. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – ‘all-encompassing love’ is one of many toxic concepts that women are exposed to from a young age. It sounds dreamy, but in reality, it’s a state-of-mind that requires women to burn their energy on relationships that may or may not last.
Ladies, there is one thing you must ask yourselves.
How much love is too much love?
Below are four personality types that women often fall victim to without setting boundaries;
- The Caretaker – Caring comes easy in relationships—part and parcel of a loving relationship. But please recognize when caring behavior extends into care-taking. Care-taking implies a responsibility to look after a person, as you would for an elderly or sick person or a child. Is it your responsibility to look after the men in your life, or is this a side-effect of too much love? Learn to care for the man in your life – without becoming his care-taker. And before you begin caring for him, make sure you fully know how to take care of yourself.
- The Councilor – What is the main role of a councilor? To listen. We are compelled to listen and empathize with others. This is particularly true with our loved ones. But there is a difference between ourselves and those who are employed as councilors. They are being paid for the extra labor they put in to support those with mental health issues. Counseling is a difficult job. So don’t let your outpouring of love be defined by this.
- The Healer – Love can be healing. But it is not the remedy for healing men. If it was, then women would have a lot fewer things to be afraid of. In trying to cure him, don’t wound yourself.
- The Punchbag – We can’t forget about the elephant in the room – abuse. Men who become accustomed to, depending on a woman’s labor can easily become manipulators. Why is it so important to set boundaries early in relationships? So that abuse doesn’t become a consequence of your unmeasured affection.
You might recognize yourself in some of the personality types set out above. But as daunting as it seems, there is a simple way to set boundaries.
I have a simple equation for you to memorize. And it has nothing to do with maths or science.
Space+Time+Energy = Boundaries
- Space – The first step is to acknowledge your space in a relationship. Everyone needs space. Both the physical and mental kind. Attachment cancels out the need to maintain distance – in any kind of relationship. Keep attachment to a healthy level. Practice maintaining distance. Learn to love the time you spend with yourself alone.
- Energy – The second step is to weigh the energy you give. Treat each relationship like a pound cake. Pound cakes have equal amounts of ingredients. Recognise when you are pouring in too much energy. Alter the recipe.
- Time – The third step is much like the second. Time is a precious gift from the universe. It is a currency that allows us to live our lives to the fullest. Don’t gamble with it. Spend time as you would spend money. Carefully.
DISCLAIMER: There is a thin line between abuse and the obnoxious behavior that men are prone to. Be aware of this. Practicing detachment from male relationships/interactions will allow you to prioritize your physical and mental well being without wearing yourself out by ‘loving in excess.’
I’m going to leave a quote here by feminist Angela Davis, for you to ponder over.
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”
Your Shakti is when you recognize you are more than the relationships in your life.
Until next time,