There are ways to overcome Super Woman Syndrome


For the Mirror

Well, we made it through the holidays and the snow. Now it is that special time of year that many of think about New Year resolutions.

It seems to me that as a woman, that usually involves talking diets. Which makes me think about a topic that has haunted me for many years. I call it the Super Woman Syndrome. What is it? If I was to give my technical definition, I would say that it is the pressure many women and girls feel through how they see society, as well as media and entertainment, represents them.

I remember a perfume commercial around the 1970s. I was a young girl looking for a role model. It went something like this: A gorgeous woman in a sharp and sexy skirt suit with a tie, singing, “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan,and never ever let you forget you’re a man, ‘Cause I’m a woman, w-o-m-a-n”!

Some friends and I got together and made up our own verses. They went like this:

“I can cook gourmet, I don’t even try, And never ever have cellulite on my thighs.

“I have the perfect marriage, it’s always great. Every night is just like a first date!”

Or, for the single woman: “As a single woman, I love my career, I don’t need a man anywhere around here!”

And for the faith minded: “And as a Christian, I know the Word inside out. If you don’t believe me, Just hear me SHOUT! ’Cause I’m a woman! W-o-m-a-n, oh yeah!”

It was a stress-reliever, making fun of the expectations that we were feeling. But where do we find our answers as to how we can be the best that we can be?

I feel that we look many places for this. One is through measuring ourselves up to others/society’ images.

There are so many shows on makeovers nowadays. Body, home, personal organization. I like to get ideas from them, but there’s a danger of new self-imposed expectations.

Think about models and actresses. Not only are some pictures air-brushed, but many also have personal trainers, spa treatments and sometimes plastic surgery. I am not saying this is wrong. Contraire! Keeping fit, eating right, being the best we can physically is great. It’s just that we now have a super society of super men and women, and we need to keep balanced. It is tempting to fall into new expectations.

We don’t always compare ourselves to the models and stars, but everyday people. I remember being home with my son, pregnant with my daughter and watching a friend’s eight-week-old baby for added income.

I had another friend with a heart of gold who worked full-time, had two kids, a working husband, but always had an immaculate home. I stressed over that for a year. Then later, I found out that she had a maid. The maid cleaned twice a week and did laundry. I spent a lot of wasted energy trying to keep my home clean, thinking something was wrong with the way I did things.

However; if she had been able to do it on her own, I should have been glad for her and, encouraged her. Maybe that was a gift she had that I did not have.

We are all different and have our own strengths. I wasted a lot of energy that year trying to keep things super-clean that would have been better used just enjoying my time with the kids. But I did learn from my mistake and remind myself often when I feel I might be sinking into a similar trap.

Where is another place we can go to find personal standards? What about looking into what the Bible says about it? In Psalms 139:13-14, as well as Genesis 1:26-27, it says that we are created in His image. In Genesis 1:31 it says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

Throughout the Bible, it talks of God’s love for us. He sent His son to die for us, He loved us that much. We are inherently significant through God’s eyes.

He also tells us to love others as well as ourselves in Matthew 22:37 and 39. Loving God, loving others and finding value in ourselves –– through Him, we can find that all-important inner beauty.

In loving others and encouraging them, we find freedom to build great friendships with really cool people, because each person has their own special gifts that enrich our lives.

In loving ourselves, we find our own sense of healthy well-being.

In loving God, we find that so-andso or society’s image” or whatever else gets in the way are not the standards for our lives, but He is. All the instructions are in the Bible.

It’s a good thing that He is my strength in my weakness, because only God can help me overcome the Super Woman Syndrome.

Cindy Jury is the women’s ministry leader at Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Federal Way.

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