Now that I’ve grown up (that’s what my father calls it once you hit 50:), I’ve come to realize that there are several challenges that women face in life that they often do not discuss with anyone. This article will address 5 of those secret struggles of life that many women face alone.
I clearly remember many conversations with friends over the years when we ‘confessed’ our inner most struggles of life and ‘discovered’ we were NOT alone with these fears and challenges. It was always a surprise for us to learn that others were dealing with them too.
Looking back, there was a pattern to these secret struggles. They often came between the ages of 30 and 50, and there were similar themes — loneliness, doubt, fear, confusion, pain.
Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare professional and you should not consider any information in this article a professional consultation about your personal situation. My writing is based solely on personal experience and research. You should seek professional support if you are struggling.
Life Struggles with Chronic Pain
One major problem that secretly challenges many woman is chronic pain. It is something that women suffer from silently because of a variety of reasons.
Historically, women have been told their aches and pains are psychosomatic. That term carries a very negative connotation for women who have ever been face-to-face with a doctor who says that. So they often choose not to share their problems again.
They believe they will be able to overcome the chronic pain in time if they change the way they do things. Because it’s all in their minds, right? WRONG!
Chronic pain can come from headaches, hormones, monthly cycles, myofascial pain, muscle pain, fatigue, anxiety, and so many other things. These are the things that generally come with LIFE, and of course, there are far more serious problems that can cause chronic pain like cancers, various autoimmune diseases, and arthritis.
But once a doctor brushes off a woman’s concerns about pain, it is highly unlikely she will keep pursuing the cause. And you will never hear her say I am struggling.
She may even develop the philosophy that life is full of struggle for everyone. So she will find ways to hide her chronic pain.
If you are suffering from chronic pain that negatively impacts your life, it is important to put yourself first and keep looking for a cause of the chronic pain. Or at the very least, keep looking for a solution!
What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is a long-term pain that persists beyond a usual recovery period. It can be “on” and “off” pain or continuous pain. It may impact people to the point they can’t work, eat properly, take part in physical activity, perform basic day-to-day functioning tasks, or enjoy life.
It is persistent and troublesome. Possibly, you are not giving yourself a chance to heal from something that has been injured. Or you are not getting enough restorative sleep for your body to recover from long days of stress and anxiety. Maybe there is nothing serious wrong, but you KNOW you are experiencing pain and should seek answers until you find them.
You may want to consider alternative therapies if your doctor is not addressing your chronic pain. I’ve found that regular massage therapy helps relieve a lot of my chronic pain. I found that vision therapy helped alleviate headaches. And good sleep strategies may help you develop a regular sleep schedule that allows your body to get restorative sleep that helps your chronic pain.
You may also find some products on this list of self care items that I use for chronic pain and wellness.
But don’t just live your life secretly with chronic pain! Talk to people until you find answers!
Worries About Work/Family Balance
Women often face many struggles of life related to worries about your work and family balance. You traditionally carry the burdens of trying to balance everything in life. And usually there is no leftover time in a day to talk about the struggles.
Women still face struggles at work that are often not discussed. In many situations, they are working to overcome stereotypes and limitations due to their gender. They may be facing challenges with subordinates that they don’t want to discuss because it will appear to make them weak or incompetent.
Many women also tend to be nurturers who have a strong need to manage the family and care for the children. They carry the worries about school performance, extra-curricular activities, sleep schedules, vaccinations, proper diets, exercise, and so much more!
Fortunately, nowadays there are valuable strategies and tips available to help families work together to find balance and harmony in their lives. You may want to read 12 Important Aspects of a Balanced Life to learn how to share the responsibilities of balance and harmony with your partner and other family members.
You may also want to read about 21 Simple Acts of Self Care for Women to help develop some mindful and practical habits to help with your daily life struggles.
Please don’t carry the burdens of balance and harmony all alone. Life is a beautiful struggle when you share it with loved ones!
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Our society has a fixation on success and the accumulation of wealth, but the pressure of being responsible for yourself and your family can be equally as intense. Being burdened by financial stresses can feel impossible.
Families who are unable to meet their financial obligations are forced to make tough choices which can end up affecting their health or security. Often times women carry these burdens in secret because of the societal stigma attached to discussions about financial worries.
There are also normal life events that can add to the financial struggles in life. Increased financial challenges can be caused by disability, death of a breadwinner, or unexpected medical bills. It is not uncommon for the stress to cause a person to go into a depression, and then it becomes a vicious cycle.
It can be difficult to escape the worries of financial stability. Since women carry so much burden in life, they are highly affected by these struggles.
If you need help with financial stress, you may find this article from Dr Elizabeth Scott informative and beneficial: Financial Stress: How to Cope.
Feelings of Loneliness and Emptiness
I remember quietly telling my mother many years ago that I was surrounded by people all the time but I felt the greatest sense of loneliness and emptiness than I’d ever felt in my life. I was in my late 30’s — married with two children, teaching elementary school, volunteering as a coach and PTA officer, teaching Sunday school, etc.
We had just purchased a new house and the neighbors were always together — celebrating a special occasion for someone or just getting to know each other. There were 17 children in the first 8 homes on the street!
But I was feeling lonely and empty. I had everything I’d ever dreamed of in life. I was sure something was seriously wrong with me. And I would surely NEVER talk about my feelings with anyone other than my mother.
Much later in life, I learned many women feel this way but never discuss it because of fear.
In a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, an alarming number of women feel lonely and empty. Out of the 2,000 woman surveyed between 40-59 years old, 84% reported feeling lonely half the time or more. These are scary statistics.
Loneliness is more than just the feeling that someone feels alone. It’s a state of mind that can be debilitating and chronic. It can be an irrational feeling that stems from many issues such as hormone imbalances, emotional health, anxiety or stress, and depression.
These feelings need to be discussed and addressed. Women need to open up to their friends and seek professional help, if necessary.
There is no reason to find yourself struggling in life with feelings of loneliness and emptiness when as many as 84% of women feel this way! YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Finding My Purpose
For some women, their purpose in life is unclear. They may feel stuck or directionless. This feeling can happen for many reasons at any time during life. But most women do not talk about it or seek help.
I personally experienced this situation in my mid-40’s. My young children were turning into teenagers so our relationship was changing. I had been teaching special education for a number of years and felt like I may want to move into some other field of educational, but wasn’t sure exactly what. My husband had opened his own electrical business and he was quite busy.
Then there was me… well, me and our family cats!
I have always been the type of person who goes after what I want, but I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted. I wasn’t sure what my next purpose in life was meant to be.
Should I go back to college? Should I open a tutoring business to help students outside of school? Should I open an advocacy business to help parents advocate for their special education children?
I found myself spending hours and days and weeks searching for ideas about what my next goal in life should be. What would be my new purpose?
I was struggling with my purpose in life but if I told anyone, they would think I was crazy. From the outside looking in, I had a pretty perfect life.
But my inner being felt otherwise. I was going through the motions of life every day but struggling with purpose. I felt like there was something bigger I was supposed to be doing next.
Eventually, I spoke with a professional counselor about my inner struggle. Like I said earlier, friends and family would have thought I was crazy to be questioning a new direction or purpose.
Through my counselor and other interventions, I learned why personal development is so important and began working through steps to figure out my purpose. I learned that there are 5 aspects of personal development and how to make a personal development plan (PDP). It was a great step toward figuring out my purpose!
If you find yourself struggling with your purpose in life, be sure to talk about it. Don’t live with it silently because you may not ever become the person you are meant to be! Let go of your fear and visualize your highest self and explore your personal growth and development!
You deserve to find your purpose! And your highest self!
Final Thoughts | 5 Secret Struggles of Life
If you are feeling overwhelmed with life, you can find 21 powerful tips in this article: I Get Overwhelmed Easily: What Do I Do? Be honest with yourself and don’t feel like you’re alone with your struggles.
What are your struggles in life? Do you feel like life is a struggle? More importantly, do you say, “I’m struggling?” Find your inner motivation to reach out and talk about your struggles of life with friends, loved ones, or professionals. Please don’t let your fear or doubt cause you to deal with life’s struggles alone. It creates undue anxiety and stress in your life.
Think about it. Give yourself grace. And practice good self love habits by talking about your struggles!
If you need help with your self love practices, check out 50 Powerful Affirmations for Self Love. It might help give you the courage you need.
Love to All! ~ Susan
P.S. One of my favorite informational and inspirational websites, Lifehack by Leon Ho, has a great article that expands more on common struggles that both men and woman face. If you are struggling with life, you may want to explore his article, 13 Common Life Problems and How to Fix Them.