Will the real you please stand up?

My Hormonology

Will the real you please stand up?

mirrorToday I answered an email from Julie who asked me a couple of interesting questions, which I’ll paraphrase here:

“Which weeks of my cycle do you think might be better indicators of my true self or personality?”

“Which weeks are better indicators of what I want and need, for instance, what kind of mate to pursue?”

I love these questions because once you learn about some of the drastic shifts that can occur in your personality and desires across the four weeks of your monthly cycle due to hormone fluctuations, you really can start to ask yourself:

“Will the real me please stand up?”  

So, let’s tackle each question so you can get a bit of clarity like Julie wants:

Which week of our cycle really represents our true selves?

Simply put, all weeks represent who we are.

That’s because we all have a spectrum or range of emotions that go from one side to the other: We can be outgoing or shy, energetic or fatigued, confident or self-conscious, etc.

And, it’s not only depending on the week in our cycle, but also the environment we’re in or experience we’re having.

Here’s a prime example: I think everyone can relate to how different our personality can seem after a few cocktails. But, that tipsy person is still us–just an us that’s far less burdened by the shackles of self-consciousness and propriety.

While it’s probably not fully satisfying knowing that the many changes in mood, thoughts, behavior and energy throughout your cycle all represent the real you, there is one positive point to make here: Just like you can predict that alcohol will change your personality, you can predict how your personality will change according to the week you’re on in your cycle due to the varying hormone levels.

Take me, for example: I know the real me is incredibly talkative and laughs a lot more easily in my high-estrogen Week 2. And the real me is fairly quiet and grumbly in my premenstrual, low-estrogen Week 4.

Just like I know the real me is a total jerkwad and pottymouth when I drink alcohol. (Seriously, you’ll be glad my favorite liquid indulgence is malted milkshakes.)

Okay, next question:

How do we know what our true wants and needs are when they can shift–sometimes dramatically–depending on where we are in our cycle?

Julie points out one example–relationships–which is a good one because it truly illustrates this dramatic shift, specifically, how in Week 2 of our cycle our hormones make us more prone to falling for someone who is short-term mate material (assertive, cocky, physical, ambitious, etc.) while the rest of our cycle our hormones make us tend to gravitate toward those who are long-term mate material (emotional, cerebral, sensitive, cooperative, etc.).

And there other shifts across the menstrual cycle that affect our wants and needs, such as our ambition to start projects, start school or pursue opportunities (which we’re more prone to doing in the first half of our cycle), our desire to pursue health-boosting goals (also peaking in Week 1 and Week 2) or to save money (Week 3/Week 4) or splurge and live it up (Week 1/Week 2).

Looking at these pendulum swings, it’s easy to see why Julie–and, perhaps, you–wonder which are your true wants and needs.

So, what kind of advice can I give to make your goals clearer, to know which path or person or choice you should pursue–sometimes in spite of what your hormones are pushing you to do?

I recommend writing lists.

Write down every major want and need you have–be it looking for a life partner or becoming a partner at your firm–and write down why you want this specific goal and what specifically you want from it.

For instance, if you want a life partner, it may look something like this:

Life Partner
Why: To have a family with and share my life with.
Who I want: Someone who is funny, honest, hard-working, intelligent, patient and kind. Also, needs to be employed, have a car, be fluent in Spanish and a vegetarian.

Or if it’s career-related, it may look something like this:

Partner in Law Firm
Why: To get away from the grunt work and participate in the big law cases that are more interesting and challenging.
What I want: A starting salary of at least $150K and first crack at choosing law cases. Also must be in a major metropolitan city on the east coast and offer moving expenses.

Then hold onto these newly-made lists and review them through each week of your cycle–Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4. See how they change–if they do at all.

Now here’s how writing your lists helps:

As you go throughout your cycle, you may notice shifts. Say, in your premenstrual Week 4 as estrogen plunges, giving you a more negative view, the idea of becoming a law partner may suddenly seem less appealing, maybe because you realize you’ll have far less free time. However, having the reason you wanted to pursue this goal stated in your list may turn you back around and remind you why you wanted to achieve this aim in the first place, motivating you to stay on track.

Or, if you’re in your impulsive Week 2 and are tempted to accept an offer from a law firm who’s offering only half the salary you want and is on the west coast rather than on the east coast where you want to be to stay close to family and friends, you can look at your list and remember all the things you were looking for in a new job–and can then make a more conscious decision to determine if you’re just overly excited due to over-eager  hormones…or you really can live with a job that’s giving you a lot less than you want or need.

Similarly, when you meet a potential partner in your Week 2–and this person is NOTHING like the person on your list, but, holy cow, this person is hot! This person is charming! This person makes your heart race!–you can take out your list and make a more conscious decision about what’s the best course of action here: Enjoy this person’s company for a few dates–or until your Week 2 ends–and hope you don’t get emotionally attached before it’s too late? Or just decide to throw this one back because, perhaps, you know yourself well and realize you could get emotionally attached to the totally wrong person? (I think we’ve all been there, right?)

To me, perhaps because I’m a writer or I like to have something tangible written down and not rely on the many, many, many conflicting thoughts in my head, I find lists are simple, easy and effective.

All this said, you may devise a more effective strategy that works better for you. If so, let me know–I’d love to hear it!

Speaking of strategies….

I heard from quite a few of you about yesterday’s Hormonology tip asking for ways to look forward to Week 3 and Week 4. Here are a few of them:

Christal suggests naps in Week 4: “For Week 4, I plan for naps, sleeping in, snuggling with my man, etc. Week 4 is relaxation week for me.”

Kat suggests freshly laundered sheets in Week 3 and Week 4: “I know I’m going to be bothered more by bad smells–and want to have a fresh, clean scent and feel–on these weeks than other weeks. And I know my sleep isn’t going to be as great on these weeks, too. So I change my bedsheets at the start of Week 3.”

Tamryn suggests one-on-ones with pals: “Since I’m quieter and more introspective during these weeks, I use it as a time to really connect with friends. Not just hang out and party. But really get to know them in a deeper way.”

Love them all! Thanks for the suggestions, ladies!

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