When I began my career, what I did was part of my identity, my self-worth. My father was a successful advertising executive—Mad Men in real life. I wanted that same thing. It appeared glamorous and smart. An adult playground where the wittier and more in touch with your inner child you were, the more successful you'd be.
I landed a job working for a corporation that had its own in-house advertising group. I made friends with several co-workers around my age and we bonded over coffee and kolaches. The executives referred to us as “the brain trust." Those were heady and happy times, when accepting a paycheck for all the fun I was having seemed like stealing.
Then, life happened. Other opportunities arose and I jumped at them, eager for adventure and success. As I grabbed each ring, I found myself less and less satisfied, and further and further from not only what I loved doing, but from what my strengths were. Suddenly, I was decades into my professional life and the landscape around me was completely unfamiliar. I had gone from happy, creative child-genius doing what came easily and naturally, to a middle-aged woman with permanent scowl lines that I blamed on too much squinting at computer screens, instead of the true cause: utter confusion and devastation. I now spent my workday in a thankless role that no one understood or appreciated. Including myself.
Time For The Big Question
The signs that you're not as happy with your career trajectory as you keep telling yourself include things like finding it hard to fall asleep – or wake up, headaches, muscle aches and pains, or feeling mentally and physically exhausted. You also may find you're not performing up to your usually high standards. Your inner voice is telling you something, so listen. Ask yourself, “Am I headed in the right direction?" If you're experiencing the symptoms above, the answer is NO.
I realized one day that I was unhappier more of the time than I was happy. I looked down the road at the next 15 years doing what I was doing and knew it simply wasn't sustainable. I hadn't paid a lot of attention to how I got where I was, but one thing was clear: I needed to pay a lot of attention to where I went next. I reached out for guidance from a former employer—a woman who had successfully launched her own advertising agency some 30 years ago, and whom I had worked for early in my career.
She asked me simply, “What do you want to be doing, if you could write your own job description?" I thought about it for about 10 seconds and responded with my preferences and strengths. As it turned out, I was just what she and the other co-founders of PrimeWomen.com were seeking, and they were what I needed.
That sort of astral alignment, by the way, is how you know the road you need to take is the one directly under your feet.
Play To Your Strengths
Every one of us has our own genius—a talent, gift or passion. Remember what that is? If you're not sure, there are plenty of ways to find out. One, ask your friends and family. They know you better than anyone and have insight you may be overlooking. What did you love doing as a child? What do you like doing in your free time? What could you do every day without getting paid? What hobby or passion do you have that you couldn't live without? The job you seek may not be exactly that one thing, but it will likely incorporate that skill or strength.
Think about how you like to work. When are you most productive? Do you like working independently? Collaborating? Do you prefer a planned work day, or rolling with the punches as they come?
If you want someone to walk you through some of these questions, meet with a career coach. It only makes sense to invest in yourself during this process. After all, whatever job you choose, you'll be spending a large portion of your life doing it.
Watch For Signs
Have you ever noticed when considering a change, the universe sends you little messages to let you know which way to go? Sometimes the signs are hard to read – or maybe you're especially good at focusing on the road ahead and not noticing the signs flying past as you rocket forward, pedal to the metal. Slow down a bit and put your mind in 'receive" mode. Changing jobs can be a frightening prospect. “The devil you know" versus the one you don't. What if you find your new situation worse than the one you're currently in? What if you don't do well? What if it's different than you expected?
From planning weddings and running restaurants to raising kids and doling out wedding-planning wisdom with her radio show “The Event Jeannie," Uyanik has proven herself to be an inimitable woman with a work ethic that should be emulated. If you have a wedding to plan, who you gonna call? C&G Weddings!
While all valid concerns, if you do your homework before you accept a new position, you'll limit that risk. But you need to pay attention to the signs as you move along this path. If you keep hitting roadblocks, it could be the universe telling you to choose another direction. The more smoothly the process goes, the more confidence you can feel in each step you take.
Now, if you are wondering if you've missed any signs from the universe, the fact that you stopped to read this article may be one. What are you going to do about it?
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."