As a woman, I find myself so intrigued by all of the recent stories of sexual harassment – and the long-awaited presence of some accountability for these individuals – that I can barely look away when the next news story comes along. Yet, I will admit that I’ve found my own emotions, and sense of inner peace, rocked by all of this honesty. I, like most woman I know, can recount a handful of times that were upsetting, confusing and completely unnecessary due to workplace insensitivity. And while I know that this new reckoning is a good thing, there are still healthy boundaries that need to be observed in order to protect our own psyches.
As a counselor, female empowerment is my passion, so if you’re surprised to find your own sense of well-being a bit frayed these days, here’s a little added insight as to why – and what you can do about it:
The news serves as a trigger – We may find ourselves consumed by anger, sadness or a sudden lack of energy for no apparent reason. While we’ve always known that these types of abuses take place, we often have not allowed ourselves the luxury to fully experience the disappointment that it demands. Reading these news stories simultaneously intrigues us – and yet repels us, as well.
Repressed feelings are coming to the surface – Most often, those of us who have endured sexual harassment, and sometimes abuse, simply had to push any unpleasant feelings aside in order to maintain a paycheck – but the feelings are still there. Once we realize that our current state of mind is in reaction to past traumas, we actually have another opportunity to heal these feelings at a deeper level.
Honesty and openness will help – Simply speaking your own truth now, with the safety of time and distance, can be incredibly freeing. They say “you’re only as sick as your secrets” and harboring feelings of shame, when you were in fact victimized, is unnecessary. Speaking openly with a few trusted confidants can offer a chance to lay down a heavy burden you’ve been carrying for far too long.
Realize that today is a new day – The world is changing, slowly but surely. Events such as the #MeToo movement would have been unimaginable in the times of our grandmothers. By allowing ourselves the space to revisit and heal our own pain, we are helping to ensure more fair and equitable world for future generations – without the stigma and shame.
If the trauma still runs deep, counseling can help – Increased self-awareness, thought restructuring, and an arsenal of effective coping skills can help you to take back control of your feelings and reactions. A counselor can help you find the tools you need to finally move beyond the painful experiences of the past. The image of women as long-suffering martyrs is over. It’s time to release what no longer serves us – and truly step into a happy and empowered future.
Marci Wise, MA, RMHCI, is a motivational author and mental health counselor accepting clients in the Fort Myers/Naples Florida area. Call 239-689-3086 to schedule your free 15-minute consultation today – or visit marciwise.com for additional resources. Material is free to repost as long as proper credit is listed, including our website address.