Maintaining balance in life and building supportive structures around our time and energy is vital to our success. And yet, the building of said support is reliably external. Why?

For women, our identities and self-worth often revolve around our relationships to others. To be a woman is to be a good friend, kind mother, supportive sister, and dutiful daughter: roles impressed upon us the moment our sex is known in the womb.

Though women tend to have more of a knack for relationship cultivation as a result of this conditioning, we also feel overly responsible for the maintenance of our relationships, often sacrificing our individual needs (without a second thought) to serve the needs of those we love around us. We hear confusing messages about needing to be fierce and independent but also accountable to anyone who feels entitled to our attention. It’s frankly –exhausting.

If you identify with this internal conflict, you are not alone. You are valid for wanting to see yourself succeed. And you are valid for desiring close, meaningful relationships. The struggle is in the balance between them, and Integrous Women believe that balance is made possible with the support of a community that encourages its members to live a life choosing ourselves, first and foremost, every step of the way.

Choosing ourselves first can feel very, very selfish, and overcoming the guilt that rises in response requires constant reminders to be gentle with ourselves.

Think of it like this: complete selflessness is unsustainable. Not a single person survives in our world on pure altruism alone. While our love can be abundant and far-reaching, our energy and time are not. The reality is our sacrificial nature really helps no one in the end. It drains our energy and invites no terms for recovery. So even if we make it through the motions, we do so tired and frustrated, and end up isolating ourselves to protect our loved ones from the burnout. Burnout leads to isolation; isolation leads to disconnection. And so the connection you set out to create by serving others in the first place gets lost along the way.

It’s that age old “oxygen mask” analogy. We’ve heard it once; we’ve heard it a thousand times. But it’s not enough to just hear it. Balance such as we’ve described requires true commitment and dedication to oneself, which can exume feelings of doubt toward our worthiness. And that is at the heart of the service we are aiming to provide, not superficial self-care and affirmation, but true, intrinsic sense of worth, love, and respect for oneself.

The saying our Impact Coach, Pascale Edery, often reminds us of is, “Be. Do. Have.” You must first “be” before you can go out and “do.” And once you’ve mastered the “being” and the “doing” soon you will being to experience the “having”. Show yourself the same love, compassion, and grace you provide to others. Test this simple concept even for just one day, and watch as the world around you begins to brighten, slowly and surely. This is part of the balancing game of life. You must actively choose to fill your cup first, in order to leverage your fullest self to help others, because service to others only lasts as long as we are acting in service to ourselves.

One tool I like to lean on when I am feeling trapped or a situation is proving more difficult than anticipated is to simply ask myself: Is this serving me? If the answer is a clear no, then I decide to stop doing it, immediately. If the answer is unclear, I dig deeper to rediscover what motivated me to begin this project/job/relationship in the first place. Either way, the choice should always be yours, because YOU are the greatest authority on yourself, and no one else’s words or influence should dictate how you are to live your life.

And, as always, we hope you choose to live it, integrously,


Marah Stevenson