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Lift Up Your Strong Friends: Some ‘Superwomen’ Suffer In Silence

| Super User | Balance

Check on your beautiful, brave, courageous Sister Friends. You know, your fellow Strong Black Women — the ones with the ever-present, skillfully-hidden "S" on their chests.!

The ones you call when you're sad, need to vent, or want to share your thoughts. When something goes wrong, they're the ones you reach out to first. You also hit them first when things are going great — to celebrate!

Since the late seventies, the myth of the Black Superwoman has been perpetuated. In a white, male-dominated world, the term "Black Superwoman" means that women, especially women of color, must excel in all roles — all the time. It's also been suggested that in order to succeed, women of color must flourish in every area of both business and life.

We've traded the "Black Superwoman" of the 1970s for "Strong Black Woman" today, and it's both a compliment and a curse. Why? Because many put others' needs ahead of their own, yet never double-back to nourish themselves.

When you think of your family's strong mothers, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers, who does for them what they do for everyone else? Most Black women in leadership positions — at home, work, church, etc. — feel a natural responsibility to take care of everyone. At the same time, they feel a strong sense of responsibility to institutions/organizations, family, and friends, while resisting any displays of vulnerability or interdependence. While it's true that success can require people to protect themselves, it often comes at the sacrifice of emotional health. Sometimes that even extends to physical health, as well.

Being available and present for our boss, friends, family and others demands a huge amount of balance, give and take. In the marketplace, someone trading or giving something valuable would expect to get something equally worthy in return. But for Strong Black Women, that rarely happens with their personal energies -- they just keep giving and giving and without getting enough back to build them back up.

Your powerful girlfriends may not express when they are feeling low, exhausted, unbalanced or just off-kilter. They may never let on that their needs are not being met. In some cases, they may not even recognize it themselves.

Also, remember to just also sometimes -- You don't always have to fix it. They may need someone to listen, vent, or simply be there with them. If you can't provide balanced support, suggest they seek counseling, therapy, or a coach.