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For Women, the Key to Success Starts Within
By Laura Roman, LCSW, BCD

Laura Roman, LCSW, BCD

As women continue to push for equality in the home and at work, it's critical that they recognize that often their biggest obstacle can be found in the mirror.

Having counseled literally hundreds of women over the past 25 years and specializing in relationship coaching for the past two years, the common threads are easy to find. Women are harsh critics of themselves and of each other. One need only "eavesdrop" when women are together to hear the continual negative comments about their looks, brains, abilities or overall sense of self worth. Sure, sometimes such remarks are "sugar coated" to avoid conflict or too direct delivery of an insult, but they most certainly are there. And the impact is profound.

Such negativity manifests itself in many ways. Some women choose to overeat for emotional reasons, even though they know this is not only unhealthy but that the resultant impact to self-image in the form of unwanted pounds only affirms their negative opinion of themselves.

Unfortunately, these insecurities too often lead to or seep into a woman's relationship with men, many of which can be describe as toxic. Women often will accept bad behavior from men because they feel they somehow deserve such treatment. And while they seldom are willing to "cut (themselves) some slack," these same women will give the men in their life's every benefit of the doubt even when these men have done nothing to merit it. Ultimately, these women lose themselves in their relationships with men.

Such issues are not limited to personal relationships, either. For all the strides women have made in the marketplace, we often feel inferior to men and become either very passive or uber dominant. When thrust into positions of authority, even the most talent, the most competent women will question their abilities and their roles as managers, overtime sabotaging their own performances. This stymies our abilities to manage, not because we can't do it, but because we often are uncomfortable with the responsibility because it is a relatively new role for so many of us. Even women with limited managerial responsibility will find it difficult to stand up for themselves in the workplace.

Sometimes it seems the deck is stacked irreversibly against us. The media contributes to this problem by setting standards, mostly physical, that are impossible for most women to achieve, let alone maintain. Faced with such impossible odds, women most often turn on each other, accept second-class status or lose themselves in their children.

The good news is, it doesn't have to be this way. While many women who I've met don't bring with them the resources of becoming self accepting and open to relationships with other women, it is something that can be learned and nurtured over time. But the desire needs to be there and that desire needs to be channeled into action. It's not an easy journey, but it is one well worth taking. As one client said, "Self-love is sort of like an arranged marriage. You just have to sort of grow into it."

Laura Roman is a relationship coach and psychotherapist based in Wexford, PA. This May she is offering a group coaching class, "Strengthen Your Core: How to Build a Happy, Healthy Relationship with Yourself." To learn more about how you can have a more fulfilling life, visit www.lauraroman.com or call (412) 247-1955

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