I have a superwoman complex – I think I can do it all. I think that my family will cease to function if I don’t do it all. I think that no one else can do the things I do. I say yes to any request because I can do it all. Only ever accepting perfection, and striving always to be better, smarter, perfect! In fact, for a while, I CAN do it all, I can BE it all. Superwoman is my friend – well it seems that way. Superwoman’s ways can be subtle. She seems to be helpful and has good motivations. But soon, she takes over my life. She has moved in lock, stock and barrel – taken over my home and my life, and instead of my short-term guest who helps me out on occasion, she refuses to leave. I revert to survival mode – I lose my boundaries and I become driven to perform – to perform in all areas of my life – to be the SUPER mum, the SUPER wife, the SUPER daughter, the SUPER doctor.
Superheroes seem not to need self-care or down time. They can perform against the odds, exhaustion is no challenge, hunger is no challenge – they never fail. Recently Superwoman let me down – I failed my exam. I had never failed before – I thought that Superwoman had served me well. Her role in my life was threatened by my failure as I took the time to come to terms with my unexpected outcome – I had never failed before.
I have come to learn that Superwoman is NOT my friend. I have learned this lesson before and yet Superwoman resurfaces for a season, time and time again. Superwoman is a thief – she robs me of so many things – my relationships with my family, my best self, my capacity to have margin in my life where I can let the child out to play. Serving Superwoman, I function in survival mode – always tired, always busy, always giving, always striving for perfection.
It’s time for me to tell my Superwoman that she is redundant – fired even – no longer required – no longer serving me well! It’s time for Superwoman to know she is no longer welcome here. It’s time for me to give up my Superwoman complex and find balance. Let the inner child out to play. It’s time to put boundaries back in place. Leave my work at work, put my devices away and be “in the moment”. Accept that I am good enough. Accept that failure is an opportunity to embrace the “not yet” and embark on the next chapter.
I don’t think I am alone in my superhero complex. Is it time for you to denounce your superhero?
Dr Faye Jordan
Dr Danielle Scarfe