Carol the Coach: The Double Bind of Strength

Women put way too much pressure on themselves to be perfect or to handle things "in just the right way." It is true that women are the relationship gender. It has been historical through time that having the capability to have children has driven women to want to take charge of other people's needs. This has understandably resulted in the female gender wanting to get it right which has increased the pressure to do it perfectly. I have seen in my clients that they become way too hard on themselves in the process which oftentimes stymies what they think about themselves and their goals. The need to be perfect can interfere or rob them of what they want to accomplish in life.

We live in a society where women are expected to do things in a certain way. Women have to look perfect, they have to accomplish much, they have to be competent and they have to achieve these things while being authentic, compassionate, and empathetic. Unfortunately these attributes can often interfere with other goals that they may need to accomplish to fulfill their life's dreams.

If women are assertive they may be seen as "bitchy." If women are to be honest they may be seen as hurtful. This leaves women feeling fearful that their ability to be honest and authentic conflicts with their need to nurture and please others.

We need to get comfortable with being clear and direct which allows others to know where we stand which will really enhance relationships. I always train women to believe that being assertive is the most constructive form of communication when it is done in a civil and matter of fact manner. As you can imagine, if someone is yelling or cursing while they are asserting themselves....the communication is seen as aggressive.

I encourage women to be confident and assertive, knowing that others may see this as conceited or overly ambitious. In my seminars, I hear consistently that women have been taught by their parents that it is not polite to "toot your own horn." I explain to clients that there is nothing wrong with letting others know that you are capable and able to handle certain situations. Although no one likes someone who boasts, it is extremely important to own your strengths and value yourself!

My shy or introverted clients often feel less than because they don't necessarily exude confidence and assuredness. They talk about feeling inferior because they don't have the social skills that make them feel noticed and valued. I explain that women need to know that oftentimes assertiveness is a skill that needs to be learned no matter what style one possesses naturally. Even a shy woman can learn to be assertive which will automatically raise her sense of confidence.

I recognize that intuitively women are in a tough position because the need to be direct and honest may conflict with their need to put others at ease. Or their need to be confident may make someone else feel more inferior.

Women really need to be accepting others for their attributes and values and not double bind themselves or others. There is nothing wrong with "knowing your greatness" as Marianne Williamson writes about in her book Return to Love.

If you desire more information on how you can increase your sense of self, I would recommend Brené Brown's ground breaking book Daring Greatly. Brené Brown discusses how difficult it can be for women to accept each other without judgment and how risking vulnerability can be the key to a women's self worth.

Carol Juergensen Sheets LCSW PCC is a psychotherapist and personal life coach. She does motivational speaking and empowerment trainings locally and nationally. To find out more about her services–contact her at or call her at 317 218-3479. You can watch Carol the Coach segments on WTHR’s Channel 13 Wednesdays @ 12:50PM.