Being a strong, independent woman means that you are able to find happiness on your own. You have self-confidence without having to rely on another person or society for validation. It means emotional independence and being able to have healthy relationships with others without falling into co-dependent patterns. It means learning to express who you are at your core, whether you are shy and soft-spoken or loud and assertive. You don’t need to try fitting a certain mold. Read on to learn how to embrace the woman you are and who you want to become.
1. Put yourself first.
When you notice yourself needing something whether it is intimacy, affection, or attention, give yourself what you need. If you need attention, take a day to pamper yourself in some way. If you need intimacy, spend time writing in a journal or exploring nature. If you need affection, give yourself affection by thinking about what you love about yourself or taking yourself out for dinner and a movie. The more easily you can meet your own emotional needs, the healthier your relationships will be because you will know and understand yourself and be better able to express yourself to your partner.
2. Don’t compare yourself to other women.
Having a female role model to look up to is great. Just be careful that you don’t fall into jealousy. Although jealousy is natural to some degree, western society tends to exacerbate female jealousy through advertisements and films that feature unrealistic standards.
- This jealousy and “catty-ness” is called “relational aggression.” Studies have shown that media plays an important role in modeling relational aggression in women. Women who are victims of relational aggression are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem and feel rejected and lonely. The result is a culture of women who feel insecure and unhappy with themselves.
- Recognize when you experience jealousy. The first step to overcoming jealousy is to recognize when you are experiencing it. If you find yourself reading a magazine and comparing your own body to those of the models, stop for a moment. Do you compare everyone you see in the street to magazine models? Probably not, so spare yourself that judgment too. Models are people who happen to have features that make a good fit for what magazines are looking for, and they are people who are dedicating their lives to modeling as a job. They are no “better” or “worse” than you.
3. Set clear boundaries.
Set clear boundaries that prioritize your own needs. For example, set boundaries with regards to as how much time you spend with someone, or the kinds of criticisms you are not willing to hear. Be sure you have other things going on in your life outside of any romantic relationship, whether it is school, work, friends, a fitness routine, or your family.
Set clear boundaries with the individual and communicate to this person your need to be your own independent person. Once the boundaries have been discussed, stick to them.
Whether you are a man or a woman, you will have to learn to fend for yourself in the real world if you want to avoid being taken advantage of. You must learn how to stand up for yourself at school, at work, and in your social life. Work on asserting yourself. Don’t be ashamed or apologetic about asserting yourself. Assertiveness is the middle ground between passivity and aggression.
People who are effectively assertive are more happy in relationships and have higher self-esteem.
Use “I” statements. These types of statements are less accusatory, and instead they convey that you are taking responsibility for your own actions and feelings. For example, instead of saying, “You never listen to me,” you can say, “I feel ignored when you constantly check your phone while talking to me.”
Learn to say no. Put your own needs first instead of always trying to accommodate other people first. If someone keeps asking to borrow money, for example, you can decline their request. If a friend keeps borrowing your car, you can tell her that the car is not available for her anymore.
When you believe in your abilities and your achievements, then you will convey strength. Pursue what you need and want. When you lack confidence or play the victim, you risk letting others walk all over you instead of getting what you need and want.
If somebody betrays you in any way, be sure to let him or her know. It can be difficult to share your emotions, especially when you feel hurt or angry. But telling the other person how you feel may help prevent the person from repeating the behavior in the future.
For example, you might say, “I felt hurt when you said my article was biased. I’d be happy to listen and incorporate feedback, but I can’t do anything with name-calling.”
7. Address disrespectful and offensive comments.
If you hear somebody making a sexist, racist, or otherwise disrespectful comment, don’t let it slide. This doesn’t necessarily mean engaging in an argument. Calmly tell the person that what he or she said is not appreciated.
“Please don’t talk about other women like that.”
“Could we please avoid negative comments about Muslims?”
“Why do you feel that way?”
If you are co-dependent, you might find that the relationship defines your life. You might obsessively think about the other person and wait to make a decision until you’ve checked with him or her. Strive to overcome codependency by staying alert for the following signs:
- Low self-esteem
- People pleasing
- Poor boundaries
- Dysfunctional communication
- Problems with intimacy
- Painful emotions.
Try to cultivate compassion and happiness for the fact that everyone is talented and gifted in her own way, including you! Every woman has her own best assets, whether it is her math skills, painting abilities, or leadership skills. Embrace the skills and resources you have and love yourself for having them.
If you think someone is talented, let them know.
Also Read: 7 Ways to Empower Women and Girls