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Is self-actualization difficult for women? 

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Posted: June 29, 2017

Yesterday, we had a workshop for women. The number of participants was small, including one man and two on Skype. The theme was “check your identity development level” to recognize your level of psychosocial development. We used Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, which I mentioned the other day in this blog.

Many of yesterday’s participants were women who were amidst their troubles, and the results said their stages of identity development were comparatively low. In contrast, in the preceding Tokyo workshop, the results of many participants showed their stages of identity development were high. In the Tokyo workshop, the major part of participants were men who have overcome their respective difficulties such as divorce, separation or others… and they have constantly participated in our workshops for a long time.

We may see here the difference in self-concept between the persons who have overcome and who are amid difficulties, and also the difference of pressures they feel between men and women. The above two factors seemed to make the differences, I think.

Personal identity is obtained when a person grows up. But it is not so simple as to be obtained with the physical growth only. Various experiences and learning nurture your personal identity: Among all, such an experience that makes you confront your identity crisis. When you have overcome the experience, you can achieve ego identity based on the trust on yourself. When you are forced to strictly face the question of who and what you are as a result of divorce, separation or something else that destroyed your self-image formed by playing a role in family, you start cultivating the power to change yourself from the one who support yourself relying on the role in family or affirmation from others to the one who can accept yourself as you are.

To be able to accept yourself as you are, you need the experience of being said “Yes” as you are in your childhood (This thought may be close to the theory of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs). Girls are often told to be subordinate. Expressing personal identity might be difficult for gilds compared to boys.

Boys are required to be standing out, aggressive and patient, etc. Boys seem to have more chances to assert themselves. On the other hand, assertive girls can often be denied. Girls are required to be dependent and submissive. The type of social pressures given to men and women are different. The issue is easily mixed with the biological difference of the brain and hormones between men and women. But, I think the difference of how they were treated during growth can have a significant impact.

In yesterday’s session of women’s workshop, the participants could get aware that their anxiety and low self-esteem related no little to their gender as a woman.

I don’t mean being feminine is uncomfortable. I mean, if who you want to be is just as you are, you can live a less stressful life. If you want to be feminine or manly and you are comfortable as you are, you will put the end to your problem when you accept it as your personal identity.

My type? I’m charmed by tough, strong and beautiful women. My mother was not so tough and strong… and not meek and subordinate. When she was married with her first husband, she didn’t have child and was chased out of the house. My father, when he was married with his first wife, he was chased out of the house for his incompetence. Then, my mother got married with my father. My parents didn’t rely on the traditional concept of marriage but achieved their original identity as a family. My mother died about 4 years ago when she was 94 years old. Nearly 20 grandchildren and great grandchildren saw her off in her funeral. She looked so peaceful, free of anxiety of women and pains in life.

Freesia laxa. The seeds I sowed last autumn grew up to a plant, and a flower finally bloomed.

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