The Power in Knowing Ourselves

It is no secret that women are under a tremendous amount of pressure in today’s society. It is essentially impossible for women to balance everything society expects them to do including working, taking care of a family, keeping up with the latest trends, exercising, being involved in the community, and much more. Research shows that depression is much more common in women than in men and that there has been a significant increase in this depression over the past five years. Women also experience a higher prevalence of anxiety disorders. The demands of society are only increasing, causing women to try to keep up with impossible standards. We need a way to cope. We need something that can teach us about ourselves and the world around us and relieve some of this pressure.
The Enneagram, which is a tool for understanding ourselves and others, has gained much popularity over the past few years. It is divided into nine personality types and individuals take a test to determine which one they fit into the best. It explores the way we see and react to the world and stimuli around us, what brings us fulfillment, things that cause us to feel certain ways, and many more aspects of who we are. The Enneagram has proven to be an accurate and insightful tool that helps people understand themselves, others, and the world around them. This concept is known as self-awareness.
Self-awareness simply means that we are aware of our own feelings, thoughts, motives behind behaviors, and how we are experiencing the world around us. Depression and anxiety often occur because we are not aware of these internal processes and are just in a state of often unconscious feelings and behaviors. If we are able to understand ourselves, we are more likely to give ourselves grace and not hold ourselves to such high, unattainable standards. We will begin to set realistic expectations for ourselves and not give in so easily to the demands of society.
Mindfulness is another concept that has gained popularity recently. This is simply focusing our attention and awareness on the present moment, not dwelling on the past or future, and accepting the thoughts and feelings associated with the present. Used often in yoga practices, mindfulness also reduces anxiety and depression because these things are often associated with the past and the future that cannot be changed or controlled.
Part of being mindful and self-aware means that we not only extend grace to ourselves, but to others. As women, we often spend much of our time criticizing and tearing down other women. This not only harms them, but us as well. It brings about a spirit of negativity that feeds into that anxiety and depression that women are already experiencing. Instead of focusing on what other women are doing wrong or ways we could criticize them, I want to challenge all of us to seek out ways to empower and encourage the women around us. We all know how difficult life can be and the pressure we are often under as women, so why not make it easier on ourselves and come together? First, let’s take a look at our own lives and spend some time getting to know ourselves through mindfulness and maybe taking that Enneagram test (https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/). Once we are more self-aware, we can be aware of what is going on with others and how we might be able to encourage them. Taking steps to improve ourselves and others will, in turn, improve our communities and society as a whole.

Kessler, R. C. (2003). Epidemiology of women and depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 74(1), 5–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0165-0327(02)00426-3
The Enneagram Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved April 22, 2019, from The Enneagram Institute website: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/

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