Many women & some men sublimate their own needs in order to take care of others. I believe caretaking of others works best when balanced by being grounded in a solid sense of self. So many women come to my office depressed, & very disconnected from themselves after their kids leave for college.

Feminism was never about undermining the family, it was about women developing a clarity of who they are & what’s important to them. Now women of all ages sit down and describe themselves as “lost”. Codependency is about only defining yourself in relationship to others, which is a huge problem not just in alcoholic families.

Though 27% of Americans are single, many feel like a fish out of water because they aren’t married or don’t have kids. How many people live in unhappy marriages? Buckets of people it would seem. It’s still possible to define yourself in ways that contribute to your own greater happiness whether you are single or in an unhappy partnership.

I used to love this button that Feminists wore in the 1970’s:Personal Growth, what is personal growth, self help, self growth, self improvement, self development, personal change
NOT because it was about hating men, because it was about being valuable alone, mattering by yourself, separate from anyone else. As Feminism has gotten lost over the decades, so has this idea.

As one woman put it “I don’t want to leave my husband & I want to give myself a chance.” I ask clients to go to the movies by themselves, then try a meal alone in a restaurant or spend a day doing things that only you are curious about. Often solitude is part of the journey to know who you are, then there is no contamination by wanting to please someone else.

The goal is to find a quiet satisfaction inside of you, like a candle glow welcoming you home on a winter night. Being active in your life means not being afraid to make choices and take risks based on your own unique voice within.

Find something you care about that may only matter to you and decide to do something about it; like Temple Grandin as portrayed in the 2010 HBO movie of the same name. Watch the movie to see the true story of how as an autistic woman, she found her very own passion in helping cattle to be humanely treated. She followed her own ideas and cared about something no one else had ever invested in before.

Be a heroine in your own life who decides how to define yourself, on your own terms.

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About the Rhoda Mills Sommer

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