By Maria T. Pacho
You’ve got it all. Intelligence and beauty inside and out. You are college educated, or you are on your educational journey. You are unstoppable, in your heart and in your mind. Your drive is to succeed, attain an education and build a solid foundation for yourself. You’re achieving what you’ve put out to the universe.
But one day something happens. Someone attacks you: a stranger, a supervisor or perhaps a friend or family member. At this point your life stops and your goals and dreams take a detour. Life happens. Rule number one–within an intelligent lady’s life–is to know how to handle the situation. This has happened to me one too many times, but through my persistence to move forward, I’ve broken my inner world’s glass ceiling of despair. I made a conscious effort to recognize the problem and what steps to take to address the situation.
As a professor of 23 years, and although I have not conducted a formal study using any particular data set or methodology; I’ve observed human behavior and how Latina women handle difficult situations in their lives.
Psychology today defines emotional intelligence (EI) as “the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Though there is some disagreement among psychologists as to what constitutes true emotional intelligence, it is generally said to include at least three skills: emotional awareness, or the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions; the ability to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes both regulating one’s own emotions when necessary and cheering up or calming down other people”
When examining a Latina women’s IE, we must first look at our roles as women. She is consistently managing the emotions and needs of others.
The Maria Paradox is Marianismo which is opposite of Machismo. Machismo is defined as masculine pride and at times a form of masculine aggression. Marianismo is the opposite and there are so many ways to define it. Women who fall into the paradox are those who put their loved ones and family first and places her everyday needs last. These needs can be critical when it comes to her overall wellness. When we examine her IE, she will place her emotions last and that is not healthy. In my class Latino Health Status and Health Care Access, we discuss health care disparities. The Maria Paradox is a huge disparity when it comes to delaying treatment or accessing a health care provider. She is jeopardizing her health to put others first. My personal version of this paradox in this modern age is lacking self-love. Awareness of your emotions are critical for a Latina caregiver, mother, wife and friend. Without self-love a woman cannot practice or preserve her inner beauty, stay feminine and control her emotional intelligence. A Latina woman must first draw away from this paradox to achieve her emotional intelligence. Without her health she cannot care for her family or go to work to put a roof over her head. Self-love needs to be practiced daily to live a healthy lifestyle. Self-love is regard for one’s own well being or happiness. It’s the ability to love yourself unconditionally no matter what flaws or traits exist. Practicing self-love must be created in her mind, body and soul.
Growing up with a single mother and a very traditional Catholic grandmother did not place me in this paradox. I was taught to be self-sufficient at a young age. I was never exposed to honor a man or put myself last. On the contrary, I was queen of my backyard. I played teacher and taught dance. I had my friends wash their hands before playing with my dolls. I was in control of my little world and emotions. I was a leader in my own world, a self-starter and self-motivated. Growing up I saw many versions of women. In my household, my grandmother was a homemaker. She cooked, sewed and prayed. My mother on the other hand worked a full time job. She would wake up early, put on a pretty dress and go to work. She would always come home with a treat for me, her only daughter and flowers for my grandmother. She was always happy to give me something. Even if it was a small chocolate, I loved and appreciated it. I believe this is what made me so giving and loving. This action as an adult has its good lessons and not so good behaviors. As a young girl, I was taught to be responsible. I always had to look presentable and pretty. Twelve years of private catholic school taught me values and again responsibility. Entering the university was a big test. It was up to me to go to class or not. The values and responsibility from my mother and grandmother encouraged me to go to class and complete a college degree. Since day one, I made a conscious effort to finish school and continue my education. All dreams have an end. All goals have an end.
Then came the real world. I entered the adult world full of jealousy from other women. I lost my power. I took everything personal. No one prepared me.
But what happens outside of my household? I saw that domestic violence was hurtful but accepted. I saw that it was normal not to come from a two parent family and I also saw the joys of a good man coming home to his family picking up all of his 4 girls at once and giving his wife a kiss as he approached the doorstep.
So, the big question is, “How do you preserve your inner beauty?” Step one is you handle the situation by mastering your emotional intelligence on a feminine level. To be feminine you must be silent, talk with your eyes and say nothing. Stay classy, be lady and count to ten before you respond, text or type. Let go of any negative energy that does not serve you. By doing this you are keeping your power and mastering your IE on a feminine level. There’s nothing classier than a woman who is smart about her feelings and recognizing her emotions and where they are directed to. It’s critical to know that anger is a negative energy. To preserve your feminine energy, you must use your mind to preserve your peace of mind. Without peace of mind, you lose confidence, your health and your inner sparkle. Think about a time when someone wanted to harm you, gossiped about you or simply did not like you because you had a smile on your face. You must have managed your emotions.
Buddha stated: “If a man foolishly does me wrong, I will return to him the protection of my infinite love, the more evil comes from him, the more good shall come from me, the fragrance of goodness always comes from me and he gains only a bad reputation.”
My mother used to remind me to think before I spoke. If someone foolishly does you wrong, don’t respond if it’s not necessary. Remember your inner beauty and your imaginary crown. You have no time for a negative or bad reputation. You must keep your power and they gain a bad reputation as Buddha stated.
Your next step to preserve your inner beauty is to quiet the mind. Don’t react to another person’s insecurity. Every negative action or comment a person makes defines their insecurity. Their lack of self-confidence, self-love, their dependence on something meaningless. You are in control of the situation by using your emotional intelligence. There is a saying in Spanish “Cayadita te ves más bonita.” Silence makes you prettier. Silence + pretty = femininity. Your Inner beauty will outshine ugliness, negativity and toxicity. A quiet mind will only give you peace of mind and power to your inner beauty.
Building your confidence is the third level to achieve inner beauty. Confidence will take to a level of divine security in your own self. Confidence is your inner smile, your protective light. Once you build your confidence, other people’s threats, negativity and commons slide right on off you because you have mastered your confidence level.
The fourth step is to create a healthy mindset. Let go of what does not serve you. Declutter your life and mind. Less is more. Less clutter, less stress, less nonsense. When you create space in your thought process you allow what you want in your life and your life grows to a healthier mindset.
Evaluate your situation. If needed, write it down on paper and make a “To Do” list to break down the situation with a goal in mind.
Lastly, know your worth. Use your inner beauty and preserve it. Practice self-love. Speak up when you need to. Stay silent as needed. Unhappy people don’t like happy people. Inspire others with your courageous strength. I did, and so can you.