WH Mini-Series Episode 3
Hi, and welcome to episode 3 of the WitchHunt podcast’s mini-series: Patriarchy Detox Explained.
In this episode I’m going to talk about women’s tendency to over function and overdo. Our addiction to busy-ness, where it comes from and what to do about it. Or, at least, what I did about it.
I want to begin talking a bit about what it is to over function by drawing on the work of Dr. Sara Gottfried. She’s a NYT best selling author and physician who sparked a conversation on social media around over functioning in 2021.
+ Doing things for others that they can do for themselves
+ Absorbing other people’s feelings
+ People-pleasing to avoid disappointing others
+ Difficulty saying no and setting boundaries
+ Assuming more responsibility than is your share
+ Giving advice whether the person asks for it or not
+ Fretting about others
+ Feeling responsible for others, or knowing what is best for them
+ Talking more than listening
+ Having goals for others that they don’t have for themselves
+ Codependence, or imbalanced relationships, whereby you enable someone else’s immaturity or irresponsibility through caretaking or fixing
+ Behaving like a martyr, taking care of everyone else, giving without receiving, and then occasionally feeling like you were taken advantage of
* Overworking and over-scheduling yourself
Women have been chronically ocerfunctioning for years, ever since they emerged on the work scene and took on the overwhelming challenge of trying to balance full time work with full time family responsibilities.
For instance, in her book, Forget Having it all, Amy Westervelt sums up the working mom dilemma: “We expect women to work like they don’t have children, and raise children as if they don’t work.”
It’s like a combined hang-over of what we believe we should be as the ideal 1950s mum and housewife, and the modern drive and economic need to be a successful professional and financial contributor to the family.
Overfunctioning can happen on autopilot as it’s something we’re often expected to do.
What drives it?
A belief that if you don’t do everything, something terrible will happen.
You might miss out on a critical development,
Jeopardize your kids welfare,
Be ridiculed or judged
Or be deemed the ultimate failure.
And therefore something we do when operating from a place of fear rooted in a need for control, validation, or security.
Women habitually over function to save the day. They get rewarded in business and their family unit for doing what it takes to get the work down, or to hold the emotional fort for underfunctioners.
And, of course, it can lead to burnout, illness and breakdown.
And it’s hard to kick the habit.
In her book, Drop the Ball, Tiffany Dufu, introduces two concepts that I think are really important.
The first is Home Control Disease.
She says: “Most modern women scoff at the idea that a woman’s place is in the home..yet many women still focus obsessively on everything about it — how it’s organized, how it’s managed, and how the cooking, cleaning, and caretaking get done, right down to the smallest detail…when it comes to ur homes, many women feel a compulsive need to control, to make sure everything is managed in a particular way — our way.
Tiffany Dufu goes on to say that HCD is fueled in part by a reluctance to abdicate responsibility in the one place female authority has always been unquestioned — at home.
She also goes on to say that “as challenging as it is for women to let go at home because of the way we’ve been socialized, it’s doubly hard because we’re creatures of habit.
She talks about neuroscientific studies that show how humans are hardwired to choose the path of least resistance when completing tasks…
Add to this scientific reality the social reality that women have historically been left out of the public sphere but assigned power in the private, PLUS, an aversion to conflict.
and our compulsion to control our domestic spaces is a no-brainer.
Simply put: The need to maintain Home Control at all costs can make it difficult for women to ask for help.”
Dufu calls this the Lone Ranger syndrome.
Meanwhile, external expectations on the home and mothering front are on the rise.
The capitalist system continues to create needs for us.
Our homes are no longer enough, through their functionality as warm, happy places for families to gather safely together. Now they have to look like West Elm or Crate and Barrel show rooms — tidy and clean. And with the latest flatscreen tv, organic gourmet meals, and organic free trade cotton clothes for our kids.
Many of us have also interpreted child’s needs to include every single extra curricular class possible, so that our kids don’t get bored and have exposure to every possible opportunity out there.
I remember when we moved from a small city, Brighton, in the South of England to Washington DC. I noticed how much busier the parents were — both working full time jobs in order to maintain a certain lifestyle — while also either driving the children themselves, or hiring a nanny to drive them to their many after school activities.
The kids and I quickly jumped on the bandwagon and without a second through, within months we found ourselves ragged as we drove the 3 kids — sometimes forced — to karate, dance, singing, soccer, rugby, art, language classes, etc…
And at the same time, our knowledge about child psychology has blown up — for the better. But this requires that we have time to read the new parenting books or attend the workshops so that we can be emotionally tuned in to our kids and present for them. But I’ll circle around to this a little later.
First I want to share with you what I think is my best example of diving into the unnecessary busy — and that was in my business.
For a very long time I tried to grow my business by following the guidance of experts who were teaching business growth and strategy to on-line business owners.
Now I’m all in for investing in teachers and guides and coaches. And what these teachers were teaching me wasn’t wrong in and of itself…it just wasn’t right for me for 2 reasons.
First of all, these teachers that I erroneously chose to follow were at a different level in their business and two, their personal experience and values differed from my own.
In many cases, the experts I followed started their businesses before they had children, during the online boom.
In other cases, they started with capital to invest in their start-up, or with a wife or nanny who covered childcare, family and house management.
And until very very recently, all of them followed and taught a hustle and grind model that was not aligned with the way my sensitive nature and body worked.
To build a business in the way I was being taught required a lot of time + costly trainings.
But more importantly, it kept me in a perpetual state of DOING and overwhelm, and eventually when the doing didn’t pay off, it led to self-doubt
Doing all-the-things this complex model required while also being present for my kids felt impossible and frustrating.
I learned the hard way that this model is UNSUSTAINABLE for women like me.
And I believe that this is another reason why so many sensitive mums struggle to reach a sustainable, consistent income without feeling the mom guilt and burning the candle at both ends,
and eventually giving up.
I was doing all the things the experts were telling me I needed to do.
And because I was so busy “doing” all the time, I had little mind clarity and time to step out of my fast-paced life and reflect on what was working and what wasn’t.
My internal voice had been hushed as my brain overrode any intuitive messages.
My body was crying to rest, and my brain was yelling at my body to keep on going.
THIS is why an energy and time management system that honors your body’s cyclical need to rest is so key. And if you haven’t listened to the second episode in this series, I talk all about that there — I’ll leave the link in the show notes for you just in case.
Without the time to reflect, ponder, intuit and rest, you end up in autopilot hamster wheel mode 24/ 7 — looking outward for social cues on how to live life in a way that makes you happy and successful.
This is what happened when I landed in D.C. as a mom with 3 kids and it’s what happened for nearly a decade as an online entrepreneur.
Conscious boundary setting, discernment, sharing of the load, slowing down, saying no…there is nowhere for it to come from because we’ve shut out internal wisdom down and have learned to ignore our bodies’ messaging.
So much so that when our bodies ask us desperately to slow down and rest, we turn around and tell her she’s lazy.
But here’s the thing, nobody is ever going to give you permission to slow down and stop doing what everyone who’s brainwashed by the patriarchal soup we all live in, believes unconsciously you “should” be doing.
The only person that will do that, is you.
So everyone will have their own messy journey recovering from over functioning — each as unique as their own fingerprint, but here are a few things I started doing differently that have helped me on my way.
1. I started to practice cyclical time and energy management — again, go back and listen to the previous episode of this mini-series if you haven’t already.
But one of the most important skills I learned here is to check-in and listen to my body FIRST. What did I feel like doing? Or like not doing? What was my body biologically primed to do this week? What was my energy level like?
These were questions that would determine how I’d organize my time.
Every week I’d plan my to-do list based on 3 questions I learned from Kate Northrup’s book, Do Less:
Does this really need to get done (at all?)
Does it need to get done this week?
Am I the one who needs to do it?
I embraced asking for help, and the imperfect messy not-Alex way things would get done — healing my own HCD and Lone Ranger syndrome one messy request at a time.
2. I started to disassociate my own worth and value with what I accomplished in a day, including how I left others feeling. Instead, I started seeing it as something that was inherent.
In fact, I started to see that the better I felt, from the inside out, the more valuable I felt in the way I fed my relationships and my work.
3. I started unraveling why I did what I did, constantly asking where this choice was coming from…
Was I operating from a place of trust, alignment and curiosity? Was I role modeling self-led, body-loving sovereignty? Or was I coming from a place of fear, blame, victimhood? questions around my own needs and priorities as a woman, wife, mother and business owner.
4. And then I started asking my soul BIG questions, like:
What were my needs?
What were my dreams?
What were my values?
Where could I use more support to honor these needs and dreams?
What systems and structures were required? Or needed maintenance?
I started listening to the kids.
What did they really like to do?
What did they not like to do?
What were their bodies telling them?
What was their behavior telling me?
What did we believe they should be doing? That was based on what we saw or were told, from the outside.
What did I want my kids to witness and copy? How did I want to see them living their lives, and how could I role model that for them?
Who do I want to BE as a creator of a new reality for the future generations?
5. I started creating and honoring boundaries, and saying NOW in a way that reflected honest answers to all those questions.
6. And on the business front, I changed my entire business model to one that focused on ONE offer — one beautiful clear offer that I loved and could pour all my energy into — with one onboarding system, one set of invoicing processes, one marketing message.
It meant lessening my cognitive work load, because all my energy went into my one highly targeted, high end group offer.
It meant a shorter to-do list, because with just the one offer, I knew how to create systems and structures that would carry a significant part of the load.
It also meant no distraction — just that one offer that helped me leverage my time, energy and audience.
Ultimately it meant going from full-time weeks that spilled into evenings and weekends, to working 20 hour work weeks within school hours.
I love using this business example because for such a long time I’d followed unnecessarily complex models that worked well for others.
But until I had the time, bandwidth, intuitive muscle and soul voice to really tune into what kind of model and strategy would work for my values, my lifestyle, my energetic, emotional and cognitive capacity, my physical nature and my personality.
Do you see the pattern in all of this?
Over-functioning stems from us falling victim to the social “shoulds”. And the social should are defined by the social system we were all born into — a capitalist patriarchy.
A capitalist patriarchy that is based on the rigid dichotomy of gender norms, and that’s built for stability, production and consumption.
The outside world capitalist messaging will always tell us we aren’t enough, that we need more — to do more in order to buy and have more.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
I’ve learned that most of the time, less is more.
Doing less, body first allows you to live life wide-awake and conscious…making intentional decisions that are aligned with body, mind, heart and soul.
From this place life is enjoyed, and love felt more deeply .
All that said, it’s a work in progress.
And…slowing down and doing less isn’t discomfort-free.
In fact, being busy is great in that it helps us to keep the feelings, the core beliefs, the self-talk at bay.
In her book, Daring Greatly, Brené Brown writes: “One of the most universal numbing strategies is what I call crazy-busy. I often say that when they start having twelve-step meetings for busy-aholics, they’ll need to rent out football stadiums. We are a culture of people who’ve bought into the idea that if we stay busy enough, the truth of our lives won’t catch up with us.”
But opening up the space invites us to face all of this — the face the truth of our lives.
Getting clear on your needs, your values, your dreams requires clearing out mental clutter.
And some of that mental clutter is icky and painful.
And then the step of taking action in a way that’s aligned with your needs, values and dreams…well, that’s another story.
That requires conversations that may feel uncomfortable, or even frightening. And action steps that might feel even more scary.
In tomorrow’s episode, I’m going to talk about taking steps towards personal growth and soul-led expansion.
We’ll talk about how trauma serves to keep us safe (and small), where that trauma comes from and how to shift it to heal our way into a version of ourself that can up level more easily — and that involves manifesting with more ease, stepping into your power, living from a place of energetic alignment.
If this episode resonated with you and you happen to be a sensitive mum with a soul-led business dream who’s got the vision but hasn’t yet taken action, or who has taken action but is feeling as though your stuck with a stagnating business revenue, consider yourself invited to my signature zero cost training that I call: How Sensitive Witchy Mums Can Make $2500 per month in their Soul-Led Business, Without Missing Pickups or School Plays.
THIS FREE TRAINING WILL BE LED LIVE UNDER THE POWER OF THE FULL MOON, ON JANUARY 6 AT 11AM EASTERN, AND IN IT I’LL WALK YOU THROUGH:
— A simple mum-friendly business model for sensitive souls ready to generate consistent scalable $2.5K/ months, without missing out on pickups or school plays
— Even if you don't believe that you have what it takes, how you can reach a consistent $2.5K/ month revenue in a way that feels easeful and natural
— How to embrace soulpreneurship in a way that makes you a more present mama (and even better role model) for your littles
You can register for this free training by going to alexandrahughes.com/freetraining
And as promised, I’ve created a discount code
Exclusively for WitchHunt podcast listeners to put in their pockets and get $333 off the cost of Simple & Sacred, should they choose to join this life changing container. The code is WITCHESRISE.
I so hope you’ve found this episode helpful.
Looking forward to tomorrow!
Signing off for now.