Is compromise a dirty word?

If we had any idea the real impact compromise has on us as women, we might begin to look at ourselves and our choices in a very different light.

During past decades it was clear women compromised so much of their own care and needs through what it meant to be a ‘good wife and mother’. Living up to this ideal was paramount and a quick peek at the 1955 Housekeeping Monthly: The Good Wife’s Guide and its list of should do’s, is enough to make us cringe at what was once the accepted normal way for women to behave.

Today, we laugh out loud at the ludicrousness of this subservience, but when it comes to compromise, have we really advanced from those days, or have we just changed the way it looks and taken it to another level in the process?

Today we champion women who can keep up with the men, in every sense. We can beat them in the boardroom, few jobs are too tough or too dirty, we can match them drinking at the bar and we exercise our sexual freedoms in the name of women’s liberation. We are not only supposed to be successful as wives, mums and partners but also successful in our careers.

Essentially today’s ideal woman is nothing short of ‘superwoman’!

But the buck must stop somewhere, and that somewhere is our body, which wears the consequence of every choice and every compromise we make; it is the marker we are ultimately accountable to.

It is our bodies and our health that suffer the consequences of our compromises.

Whether we are super mums being there for our family at all times or the super career woman pushing herself harder to prove her worth as a woman, or both, it is our bodies that have to wear the impact of the compromises we make to achieve these things.

Compromise by definition means having to give something up to achieve something else.

So what if we believe we have to prove our worth as women? What then are the compromises we make in order to achieve this? Do we need to sleep less? exercise less? Does our healthy eating go out the window to sustain our faster pace or driven state? Do we push ourselves harder in other ways? etc.

In this usual scenario, it is our level of self-care that drops when we are striving to meet the imposed standards we have set for ourselves.

And what does this do to our sense of self and self-worth? If we were to treat a child this way, pushing them to live up to something for everyone else, and in doing so, not care for them the way they deserve… would we really be surprised if they suffered from poor self-esteem and self-worth? The message is… ‘you’re not enough the way you are, you need to be like this instead’

But we all know children are precious and we are less likely to treat a child in this way… yet we are no less precious.  That inner preciousness has never gone anywhere, it didn’t grow up and walk out of our bodies, it is fundamentally the essence of who we are and remains intact within every one of us. We have just become very adept at silencing it.

We could say compromise is the silent killer of our preciousness.

And yet compromise as adults is what we are willingly doing to ourselves!

The body is far wiser than we give it credit for, knowing when it is right for us to choose something and when it is not. Our bodies are capable of offering a simple yes or no to every choice we make and if we want to return to that inner essence, to our preciousness, then it is as simple as learning to listen to our bodies again, to what they are communicating in every moment.  And if that proves difficult, perhaps we can begin by asking ourselves ‘why do we compromise?’ and explore what motivates us to say yes, when our bodies are saying no.

Through this honesty we begin to empower ourselves to make the necessary changes and restore a quality of health and wellbeing that is reflective of the preciousness we are.

By: Jenny Ellis and Caroline Raphael


Jenny Ellis

Jenny Ellis ND Adv. Dip. Acup.

Jennifer Ellis has 30+ years experience in the complementary health profession with a background in naturopathy and Chinese medicine. Working with Universal Medicine for over 16 years and with over 10 years in integrative practices she is well versed in the marriage of medicine with complementary modalities. With this experience Jennifer brings a wealth of understanding and wisdom to her full-time job in clinical practice as well as to her work as presenter and facilitator on health and wellbeing across all sectors: education, government & corporate. Active in the community Jennifer regularly volunteers her time supporting aspects of women’s health.

Caroline Raphael

Caroline Raphael

Caroline has been working as a psychologist since 2000, during that time she has worked for a number of high profile organisations, including Kids Help Line and Relationships Australia. Today she runs her own successful private practice and regularly gives back by volunteering her services to organisations such as CoUM. Caroline also dedicates a lot of her time to supporting the psychological community, currently she is a committee member for the Australian Psychological Societies (APS) Northern Rivers Committee, Convener of the APS Psychological and CT Interest Group, Co-ordinator for the Lismore region Mental Health Primary Network and a member of a number of organisations dedicated towards health reform, including the organisation HPARA.