By Deirdre L. Jones Lowman, Ph.D. (Cand)., MPhil, MBA, ACC
Hey Y’all, remember to check on your strong friends!
Yeah! I said it!! The strong ones!! You know the one with the S on her chest.
The one you call when you are feeling blue, or need to perform an emotional brain dump, or bounce ideas off. The one you call first, when ish hits the fan. The one you call when things in your life are going well and when things are going haywire.
The fallacy of the Black Superwoman syndrome has been perpetuated since the late seventies (Wallace, 1978). The term, Black Superwoman, depicts expectations that women, specifically women of color, must perform well in all their roles to be considered successful in a white masculine world (Mallinckrodt & Leong, 1992, p. 716). Moreover, women of color, have been led to believe that to be successful in a white masculine world, they must be exceptional in all facets of work and life. According to Thompson (2021), Black Superwomen are driven to succeed at all costs, often putting other’s needs, before their own.
This is where I pick up my Superwoman scenario: when I say check on your strong friends, I also relate this to family—strong mothers, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers. Most Black women in leadership or headship roles feel the instinctive responsibility to take care of everyone and simultaneously maintain an extreme obligation to institutions/organizations, family and friends while resisting any displays of vulnerability or interdependence. Thompson (2021) posits that wearing protective armor becomes necessary to achieve success, but it comes at the expense of one’s emotional well-being.
Being available and present for our employer, friends, and family, requires a high level of balanced reciprocity. Balanced reciprocity is the direct exchange of something traded or given, with the expectation that something of equal value will be returned within a specified time (MacCormack, 1976). Feeling unbalanced or out-of-balance is not uncommon for strong women. Your strong friends may not be forthcoming with what they need from you. Sometimes they do not need you to fix it; they may need a listening ear, or to vent, or just need support. If you are unable to provide balanced support, recommend hiring a coach.
The practice of coaching is a mental wellness and leadership option which allows women to share, plan, and activate their superpowers—at home or in the boardroom. Professional coaches, like me, accredited and trained, provide an active listening experience and a safe space to organize, prioritize, and create a plan of action. The practice of coaching helps move strong women and women leaders from surviving to thriving through positive self-affirmation, empowerment, and self-reflection. Seeking support demonstrates strength. Professional coaching helps to cultivate transferable, stress management techniques and positive coping skills while promoting work-life balance and self-care.
Check on your strong friend by:
- Sending a check-in text;
- Calling them on the phone, Facetime or face-to-face visit;
- Ask genuinely about their day or week;
- Actively listen to their response(s);
- Giving them space to self-reflect;
- Asking whether they are venting, seeking advice or a recommendation;
- Recommending hiring a coach.
Your Strong Friend,
#checkonyourstrongfriend #superwoman #hirealifecoach #takechargemoveforward #yourcoachdeirdre #selfcare #mentalhealthmatters #womeninleadership #boss #shebeenaboss #womeninleadership #womeninconstruction #womeninengineering #womeninbusiness #workingmothers #workingwomen #womenineducation #womeninbanking #blackmaternahealth#coachingfederation #suicideprevention #superwoman #blackmaternalhealth
Additional Resources for Mental Health Support
National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255
Disaster Distress Helpline 1-800-985-5990
Read it for yourself:
Lundquist, B., Rubel, D., & Ng, K. (2020). Experiences of Counselor Education Doctoral Student Mothers with Young Children. Counselor Education & Supervision, 59(4), 267–282. https://doi.org/10.1002/ceas.1218
MacCormack, G. (1976). Reciprocity. Man, 89-103.
Mallinckrodt, B., & Leong, F. T. (1992). Social support in academic programs and family environments: Sex differences and role conflicts for graduate students. Journal of Counseling & Development, 70(6), 716-723.
Reciprocity. (No Date). Perspectives: An Open Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, 2nd Edition by Nina Brown, Thomas McIlwraith, Laura Tubelle de González is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.
Thompson, C. (2021). Black Superwoman Steps off the Podium. Herizons, 35(3), 11.
Wallace, M. (1978). Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman (Vol. 26). Verso.
About Deirdre L. Jones-Lowman
Deirdre L. Jones-Lowman, Ph.D. (Cand.), MPhil, MBA, ACC is the Founder and Managing Director of the Pay It Forward Initiative Life Coaching and Mentoring Service, a M/WBE coaching practice. She is a self-care and mental wellness advocate, International Coaching Federation Professional Life Coach, motivational speaker, and contributing writer on mental wellness, leadership, and self-care for women.
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