I love getting away with my team after a major event to recap and process everything, and it becomes clear when we all get together in the same room that we are a very female dominant team. Poor old Greg (or lucky old Greg- depending on how you look at it) gets surrounded by 5 women in a little holiday house.
On one occasion a couple years ago, over a lovely refreshing Pimms, we were reviewing how the event we ran the previous weekend went, and looking for areas to improve it. And as we did our wrap meeting it became clear that while there were a few very detailed little system changes to be made, the majority of the improvements were energetic in nature.
This discovery captured our attention. When an event, or indeed any business endeavour has been well systemised, the only room for improvement is the human element of the delivery of that system.
So our conversation turned to how do we show up even better to our work? How do we arrive ready to deliver world class performances every day? And is that actually even possible?
Which brings me to a challenge that we stumbled upon which is perhaps uniquely feminine. Our hormones!
How do we do business at That Time of the Month?
Ladies- correct me if I’m wrong here, but there are days in the month we are stellar… capable of extraordinary feats and delivering at exceptionally high levels. We’re in flow, life is falling at our feet and business is a breeze. And then there are other times we feel we could curl up in the corner and hide from the world.
As the 5 of us girls were chatting about this, we realised, that while none of us would ever admit to it in public (for fear “The Men” and “Very Capable Women” out there would shun us for our weakness)… the truth is, when we get our period we want to introvert, pull away from the world, and frankly more often than not our body PHYSICALLY stops us performing at the high levels we expect from ourselves. There were tales of back pain, tummy pain, migraines, tears and being curled up at the bottom of the shower with the warm water running over the painful area in attempt to regain some element of comfort.
Perhaps our bodies are trying to tell us something? All 5 of us agreed, if we really listened to ourselves, our bodies wanted us to slow down and introvert at that time of the month.
The Female Brain, by Dr Louann Brizendine
In her book, The Female BrainNeuropsychology Books), Dr Louann Brizendine cites numerous sources that support our anecdotal need to withdraw from stress at that time of the month. According to Brizendine, at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethseda, Maryland, David Rubinow and colleagues have been studying menstrual mood achanges. They’ve now found evidence that the hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle increase brain circuit excitability, as measured by the startle reflex, which most of us think of as being jumpy. This explains why women feel more irritable during the time of the month when they experience maximum hormone withdrawal.*
Indeed, says Dr Brizendine, women who have committed crimes while suffering from extreme PMS (called pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder) have successfully used it as a defence in both France and England by establishing temporary insanity!
As the 5 of us gals were discussing all this the other day- it struck us as remarkable that we ever got anything done!
Now I don’t know about you, but I have a crazy belief that everything is divinely perfect. And if this were the case, then surely this hormonally driven jumpiness, tiredness and all round feeling out of sorts could be a message to us.
In Traditional Communities…
In traditional communities women would retreat to the “Red Tent” or the “Moon Lodge” at this time. In some communities, a woman’s bleeding was considered a cosmic event, relating and connecting her to the moon, the lunar cycles and the tides. She was thought to be at the height of her power at this time, and for this reason was encouraged to spend time listening to her inner voice which would often offer suggestions and wisdom which would benefit the whole tribe.
In Modern Life…
I wonder where in the massive busy-ness of life: rearing children, running businesses, keeping fit, building wealth, making our difference… have we lost this deep connection to our feminine selves? And what impact does it have on our “tribe”?
Perhaps in our drive as women to deliver “world class performances” every day, and to be considered equal with men, we have lost our connection to what makes us unique and different. Perhaps once a month we have the perfect opportunity to reflect on our raison d’être and the direction we are heading… without having to do all the busy-ness of getting there.
Just a thought… and I’d be interested in yours! Leave me a comment below!
* Brizendine, Dr Louann; The Female Brain, Transworld Publishers, 2006.