Women burn out for different reasons than men. Knowing this one secret about women’s burnout will change everything about your work — for good.
Growing up in the 1980s, I adored the Filmation cartoon She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. My family didn’t have cable TV, so I would go over to the neighbor’s house after school to watch it. I didn’t have a lot of boss-lady role models, and sexy superheros who Cleaned. Shit. Up. probably declared my college major (psychology) for me right then.
She-Ra was an archetype within the burgeoning feminist movement, and I’m positive she imprinted many of the values we professional women share. Women are strong and powerful. We are brave. We are just as competent as the men we work with, plus we are high-heeled hot while doing it.
Which is all true, but there is something we haven’t confronted yet.
She-Ra was the twin sister of He-Man, and they shared the same mission: to make the world a better place by eradicating evil. Just like every powerful working woman, She-Ra solved all the same problems that her counterpart male superheroes did. She was working in a man’s world … and doing it in a man’s way.
Things haven’t changed much since She-Ra paved our path. Working women must step into masculine energy to survive in a man’s world. In order to survive – and thrive – we have to act like men.
Having to do, perform, and achieve in ways that don’t engage feminine energy does make us freaking superheroes. Women can and do embody both the masculine and the feminine energies. But this also means we expend double the energy to accomplish the exact same thing.
What’s Wrong With Pink?
Many work mornings I’ve unfurled my closet doors to reveal my go-with-anything black slacks, classic white button down, and stable grey pin-stripe blazer. Oh, and don’t forget my familiar gold watch and uninspired diamond stud earrings. The working women’s fashion magazines have inventoried my closet well.
For years I’ve dutifully donned my usual uniform and felt appropriately dressed for work. Academic and therapeutic environments demand neutrality, so as not to offend anyone through the subconscious imparting of personal values. God forbid I appear anything but competent and strong … un-soft and unmistakably unsexual.
It’s weird haute couture to appear powerful while simultaneously appearing imperceptible. I wonder: Do my male colleagues stand in front of their mirrors, in their pinstripe blazers, asking themselves if they are appropriately dressed for work? Hmm … the heels on these wingtips are just a little high for today’s meeting, and, oh god, I need to button my top button … too much chest hair showing … I wouldn’t want to arouse anyone with the rhythmic sway of my Adam’s apple …
All my classic, tailored work clothes fit me just fine, but then again, they don’t. It took me a long time to realize that my uniform wasn’t one that I chose, but rather one that was chosen for me.
Unconsciously, I have always known that my femininity was not acceptable work attire. Even more maddening, it wasn’t (usually) my male colleagues emitting the anti-pink vibe. It was me, attuning to subliminal cultural messages that embracing my femininity didn’t belong on my work to-do list.
Sadly, feminism didn’t help me out much. The matriarchs taught me to be strong, to be assertive, and to take my place. So I did. I fought and I slayed — just like all the men I work with. I got everything they got. But in the process, I lost a primordial piece of myself.
When I finally awoke, after a career of repressing my inner pink, I was enraged. I was the transmigration of the feminist matriarchs, except that I didn’t want to burn my bra. Instead, I wanted to buy prettier ones.
The Indomitable Power Of The Feminine
We can debate all the reasons why you’re burned out — your crazy schedule, your unhappiness with your job … you can even blame Trump’s cover up of the UFO galactic federation. Your burnout probably does come from a deeper place — a disconnection that needs to be mended.
But as women, we need to understand that there’s one more reason — unspoken and unacknowledged — that makes our burnout different from men’s.
The natural love-energy of the feminine is Eros, or the erotic, and this energy is not welcome in most workplaces. If you want to know what I mean by erotic energy and why it’s suppressed in the workplace, please read this post.
Feminism has improved equality for women in the workplace, but women still cannot go to work fully embodying feminine energy. Women work in a man’s world, and we do it in a man’s way. As long as women have to expend double the energy to accomplish the same thing that men do, women will burn hotter than your daughter’s plugged-in and forgotten curling wand scorching the carpet on her bedroom floor.
That’s not safe — or sustainable. And it’s going to kill us if we don’t learn to use the wand properly.
Men won’t change it for us, because they don’t have to. Women have to change it. But it’s not going to come through the aggressive energy of the masculine (e.g., bra-burning). Rather, it will come through the indomitable power of the feminine.
The first step to changing everything about your work and beating your burnout? Step into your erotic energy.
How To Change Your Burnout (and Your Life) For Good
You may be asking yourself, How can I possibly step into my erotic energy at work? I mean, do you KNOW what my workplace is like?
That’s a fair question, and yes, I have some guesses about your work environment. I’ve had a successful 25-year-and-counting career as a professional woman in a masculine-dominated workforce.
But stepping into your erotic energy isn’t necessarily putting on a pair of high heels, looking sexy, or even presenting yourself in a stereotypical *feminine way. It’s about embracing the energy of oneness, and channeling that energy to create wholeness within yourself and deep connection with the people and systems around you.
Stepping into your erotic energy is exactly what I will teach you. Be sure to subscribe and get my free guide, Five Ways to Fall in Love With Work This Week. I’ll also send you periodic emails with updates and new posts (I promise not to clog your inbox).
The best news? YOU get to decide how you will engage with your erotic energy — you get to figure out how to make it work for you. Stay tuned for next time …
*Men (he/him) can step into erotic energy too. So can gender fluid and trans people. It’s not about your pronouns, who you love, or the body you inhabit — it’s about energy.