The Second Glass Ceiling

We’re all too familiar with the glass ceilings that women face in the workplace. Not getting raises or promotions, being limited in the projects we’re included on, and watching credit for our own work given to others. And for Black women the effects are more damaging. When we consider the racial and gender-based microaggressions we have to deal with as Black Women at Work our challenges are greater and our successes are even more impressive.

But there’s another glass ceiling that is seldom discussed. It’s the self-imposed glass ceiling that we don’t acknowledge. The ways that we take ourselves out of the game before it even begins. It’s the ways we talk ourselves out of opportunities that may be risky or perhaps just new because we “know it’s not going to happen anyway”.

Now more than ever we need to take care of ourselves so we can be and do what we were created for. Spa days and hanging out with girlfriends are fun and even necessary (sistagirls are necessary!) but that’s not the self-care I’m talking about. I’m talking about ways to pour into yourself so that you are full of commitment and purpose and a willingness to do things differently in order to break the limitations that you’ve set for yourself.

When I consider all that my mother and grandmother overcame (bad marriages while working very hard and raising children) so I could have it easier it’s another reminder that allowing a glass ceiling to linger is not acceptable. Here are three self-care tips to help you shatter your own self-imposed ceiling:

Why Not Me?
So often we ask ourselves Why Me? Why would they want me to _________? Start asking yourself Why Not Me? Assume that you are deserving of the same opportunities that others have, even if you’ve never had them before. Recently I was invited to attend an invitation-only conference for professional women of color. I walked around in a daze for about a week wondering Why Me? What do they want from me? Do I belong there among incredibly accomplished women?

And then I realized, Why Not Me and it let me dive head first into this new experience.

What Would Michelle Do
Find someone who you admire and/or consider successful in living life or in business the way that you want to. This can be someone you personally know or someone you don’t know. Keep a mental image of them in your head. Let’s use Michelle Obama as an example. Whenever those self-doubts rise or you find yourself talking yourself out of new opportunities ask yourself, “What Would Michelle Do?” Would Michelle ask for a raise while outlining all of her accomplishments to support her request? Would Michelle tackle a new project that will take her out of her comfort zone? This will help you shatter your own limiting ceiling.r own limiting ceiling.

Just Because You Think It Doesn’t Make It True
So often we believe the thoughts in our heads. But just because we have a thought doesn’t make it true! Alternative facts often take hold of our thoughts and then our actions. When we let thoughts of self-doubt or even meanness (e.g. I can’t believe I did that, I’m so stupid) take hold that glass ceiling gets a little lower.

Because of my profession, I have a lot of close friends who are therapists so it’s easy for me to get help with changing my thought process. But there are some concrete tools to help you dispute the negative self-talk and replace it with the truth. If you are interested in receiving our worksheet exercise “Catch It, Check It, Correct It”, please email us here and will send you a copy. 

Photo By: Urban Gyal