I think we women often get stressed out because we’re always so busy.
Don’t you find it ironic that women seem to be busier now than when we had to churn our own butter?
I’ve always believed that women often get stressed out because we’re always so busy.
Isn’t it ironic that women seem to be busier now than when we had to churn our own butter?
I mean, if you want to see a busy woman, go back to the pioneer times. Women had to sew their own clothes, grow their own food, and make their own candles so they could didn’t walk into a wall at night – it was out of necessity – no girl was setting out candles to make the place look romantic. Nowadays, if we have to make a few phone calls, send a bunch of emails, pick up a few things at COSTCO, and exchange something at the GAP, and try to keep the kids from killing each other over who’s turn it is to play on the iPad, we have reached our limit!
The truth is, women always have been busy and we always will be busy. The reason women are so busy is that our brains are designed to multi-task. Keep in mind that the design of our brain was influenced by our cavewoman lifestyle – our roots. Back in the cavewoman days, while the males were out hunting (their days only had one focus), the female’s days were multi-focused. The ladies were back keeping the home fires burning, supporting each other, gathering nuts and berries, and taking care of the children. With the various tasks that the females were involved in, the skills of both the left and right hemispheres of the brain were used and developed.
It may be thousands of years later, but we still have brains that are designed based on our caveman and cavewoman roots.
Here in the twenty-first century, with many more connections between our right and left hemispheres than a typical male brain, the female brain is hardwired to juggle tasks, emotions, information, and to-do lists.
Females are designed and therefore destined to be busy so let’s accept that rather than wishing we were leading different lives. The fact of the matter is, if we ran off to Italy to live a simple life in Tuscany, we would probably end up owning and operating our own winery while renovating our villa and writing about it all in our blog. Rather than wish we weren’t so busy, let’s own it, damn it, and raise a glass!
As briefly mentioned previously, in cave man days, men spent each day hunting. Their one and only job was to go out and kill some wild animal and bring it home to his family for dinner. I will apologize now if you, the reader, are a vegetarian – this was long before lentils and chickpeas were popular. Due to the roots of being a provider, male brains are goal-oriented. Men are hardwired to hunt and achieve. The male brain seeks reward and pleasure.
An important detail about the caveman lifestyle was that it was solitary. The men didn’t go out and hunt together. No, the men would go out hunting with the incentive to be “that guy” who brought back the biggest and best carcass. Again, if you are vegetarian, please know that this will be over soon. With the male’s extra agenda of being “that guy”, the top achievement for men was and still is independence. They didn’t and still don’t want the help from others. There is a neurological reason why men don’t want to stop and ask for directions.
In cavewoman days, women were, you guessed it, busy. While the men where gone hunting, the women were handling well, everything else. They were part of a community of women supporting each other, caring for children, and doing whatever else to keep the home fires burning. Based on this lifestyle, female brains are community-oriented. Female brains are designed to be social, to nurture and to protect. Women are hardwired for networking, efficiency, and empathy. While the top achievement for a male was and still is independence, the top achievement for females was and still is connection – a sense of belonging.
These differences between the male and female brains are reflected in many ways in our modern world because our psyches haven’t changed despite our dramatically different lifestyles and environments.
A current statistic states that women speak an average of 22,000 words a day and men speak an average of 7,000 words a day.
Independence versus community.
Man cave versus book club…and Pampered Chef parties, coffee dates, lunch dates, girls night out, spa days, clothing swaps, yoga retreats, etc.
In terms of stress, there are two major things to note about the female brain versus the male brain:
1. The female brain remembers stressful and negative experiences more than male brains do. Take heart, this is a neurological reason when women remember what said in argument ten years ago and men have no recollection of the argument even taking place.
2. The female brain views life events, situations, and circumstances as potentially catastrophic. Women tend to make things bigger, uglier, scarier, and far more life-threatening than they really are. While it takes the threat of immediate physical danger for men to reach that high level of agitation.
Same brain, just thousands of years later.
The modern woman to the modern man: “I can’t believe you don’t remember what she said to him! That night was a huge disaster!” The modern man to the modern woman: “Ah, get over it! No one died!”
The female’s knack for catastrophic thinking makes perfect sense when you recognize that we women are hardwired for networking. What we seek out the most is connection and a sense of belonging. Back in our cavewoman days, without the support from the women in the community, our survival and the survival of our children was threatened. Due to the strong reliance on other women for our health and safety, the biggest threat (and therefore the biggest fear) was ostracism.
Same brain, just thousands of years later.
With these roots imbedded deep within the female psyche, women today elevate conflicts, disagreements, and other forms of social tension to life-threatening emergency status. Women are essentially hardwired to afflict themselves with perceived danger – viewing something in a way that creates intense feelings which trick the body into thinking it’s facing real danger.
If you are a woman, a good way to tell if you’re caught up in catastrophic thinking is to notice those times when, as you are telling yourself a big story about something small, your eyes widen and get all shifty like one of those soap opera characters having a dramatic flash back. As the story plays out in your mind, you look like you’re remembering that time you were kidnapped and held captive in a cave for several months.
Because women have always had to stay a step ahead in arranging for food, shelter, and care for children, the female brain is also programmed to do more planning than the male brain. Yes, there is a neurological reason why women start talking about Christmas in the middle of the summer and why men don’t start their Christmas shopping until December 24th.
Same brain, just thousands of years later.
Our external circumstances are extremely different now, but women are still demonstrating their hardwiring for planning. Back in the beginning, the female’s fixation on the future was rather primal – those steps ahead were related to survival. Here in the twenty-first century, that primal fixation on the future has evolved into a lot of fretting about what to wear to a dinner party, whether or not the presentation will go well, or if the kids will get to swim practice on time tomorrow. The good ol’ “what ifs” and most, if not all of it is not life-threatening at all. Well, since we’re so busy it’s nice that we get so much of our worrying done ahead of time. Ahem.
A cavewoman would be fixating on the future as she sat around an open fire cooking some dead animal (last time, I promise, vegetarian!) while the modern woman usually does her worrying late at night in bed. We lie there reviewing all of our latest “what ifs” and then scan the ol’ to-do list…for a few hours. And God forbid we remember we have to do something and it isn’t recorded anywhere. We then lie there obsessing over this forgotten task in an attempt to burn into our brain so it’s easily retrieved the next day. At one point around four o’clock in the morning, in a desperate move to get some sleep, we reach over for our smart phone and send ourselves an email. Same brain, just thousands of years later. Now we are emailing ourselves – which is fine, unless we start replying. There’s nothing quite like waking up in the morning to dozens of emails and half of them are from you.
Thankfully, there is a perfectly good neurological explanation for why women worry and make things bigger than they really are. Back in the cavewoman days, the unknown future contained a questionable amount of food and protection and a drama in the community that severed the chain of support would have meant your life was actually in danger. These roots run deep within the psyche.
The way mindfulness can heal this is through challenging all those untrue thoughts that play out in your mind and focus on the facts. Yes, there may very well be a conflict or a disagreement at hand, but odds are you will live to see another day. Manage your hardwiring by seeing things for what they are because stress is believing thoughts that are untrue for yourself. The truth is always lighter that the story.
If you are man, please remember this brain stuff so you can express compassion toward a woman’s tendency to be a drama queen – as you now know, we come by it honestly. Other than that, stay safe.