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Women’s History Month: Empowered Women Empower Women

The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article is Dr. Karin Ryan, PsyD, LP, Clinic Director, Outpatient Therapist.  March is Women’s History Month, a time to recognize the contributions of women in American history. In this article, we are discussing women’s mental health and how women can build each other up, instead of comparing themselves to others.    The last two years have brought many challenges for everyone. However, for women, there are unique challenges that have exacerbated mental health issues, such as navigating COVID, working from home, and certain expectations. In addition, women experience anxiety and depression at a higher rate than men. While there are many contributing factors to this, it's important to open up the discussion and talk about women’s mental health and how women can help take care of each other, especially during Women's History Month.  Related:  The 'Stupid Mental Health Walk' Trend

Nystrom & Associates on Twin Cities Live 


What Prevents Women From Supporting Each Other? 

Most women can tell you exactly what it feels like when you walk into a room and you feel judged by another woman. It feels awful. So why do we do that? There are a couple of reasons for this as highlighted by Dr. Karin Ryan: 
  • Comparison and competition with other women. The evolutionary thought behind comparison and competition is that you wanted to compete to mate with the best partner, to have the most attractive offspring, etc. Societal factors also highlight an “only room for one” mentality.  
  • Competition and judgments we have with ourselves. We are not really competing with other women, but ourselves, with how we think about ourselves. When we look at others and see them as better versions of ourselves (smarter, more organized, more patient, more assertive, more driven, more attractive), we are not really seeing the other woman. Typically, our own self-esteem and worth are unsteady. 
Many times, it’s our own self-criticisms and insecurities that are blocking the empowerment and feeding judgment. The projections from our own self-esteem are powerful and can manifest themselves negatively if we let them. Overall, comparisons do not serve our well-being or that of others. So, how can we shift the narrative? 
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” -Theodore Roosevelt 
Related:  How to Build Your Self-Esteem

How Can Women Empower Each Other? 

Women's History Month provides a great opportunity to come together and empower one another. However, the first step in empowering others is to empower yourself first! Recognize that you are worthy and wonderful, competent, and powerful, just as you are. It's true: empowered women empower women! Secondly, recognize that another woman is not a threat, she is worthy and wonderful, competent, and powerful just as she is, too. Thirdly, boost her self-esteem. Tell her what she is great at, talk about her leadership skills, and recognize and verbalize her strengths. Make her feel strong and supported. Fourthly, be open and honest with other women. The more we normalize and find common bonds, challenges, and successes the stronger our friendship becomes. If we keep playing into the unrealistic, unhelpful facade, we stay stuck in the same trap.   There are several important ways Dr. Karin Ryan mentions that we can empower women, including to: 
  • Challenge negativity and female exploitation online, among friends, and at work. 
  • Think about body image messages, sexualization, and expectations. 
  • Listen to music, watch shows, and be around and follow people who build women up. 
  • Advocate for female colleagues, encourage them to be brave, ask for what they want, and demand equal pay for equal work. 

A Word From Nystrom & Associates  

Women’s History Month is the perfect time to recognize the women in your life you’re proud of, and build them up. Supporting other women also means supporting their mental health. If you’re struggling, please reach out today. Therapy can help. Call 1-844-NYSTROM or request an appointment online at any of our convenient locations.    Related: 10 Tips to Make Therapy More Effective

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