Why is ‘Choosing Yourself’ so hard for Women to do – and what does that mean anyway?

kokomo island resort, words for breakfast, how to choose yourself.



I have been trying to write this article for literally the last ten years. 

An article about the life changing power of women taking time for ourselves and how the worst and the best things can come of it and that many of us only woke up to this in the aftermath of the worst things happening anyway. 

In that aftermath, unequipped to know how to be in the silence of our own company we had the unenviable task of reinventing ourselves whilst cloaked in grief, un-belonging and fear fed by a mountain of not enough-ness. 

This was my experience ten years ago when my marriage ended, my Aunty passed away and I found myself planning a funeral and a divorce at the same time. 

Ten years ago I was a married women gripped by a hunger she couldn’t name who said yes to an opportunity that couldn’t be refused and found herself experiencing her own company for the first time in 8 years 

Solitude had been stalking me for some time, and the hunger that it brings when ignored pervaded my every waking moment. 

What on Earth would fill it? Food? A new location? Screaming at my husband? 

This is the hunger that when I speak of it to women they nod. They know. 

Just below your heart in a place deep in your chest is an ache that refuses to be fed by anything other than self knowledge, silence and solitude. 

What comes with it of course is the guilt and shame. 

We layer that on top nice and thick so we are reminded never to go near this hunger.

But in the darkness of our dreams she waits and plots for our moment to ripen. 

There were many points over the last 10 years where I danced with solitude and began to write this article; 

In 2009 when I said yes to the fantastic opportunity of a work trip to Chiva Som in Thailand that sparked the unravelling that would end in my divorce. 

When I, exhausted, burnt out and trying to out run my grief took myself to Vanuatu for a week in 2010. 

When I went to Bali many moons later in 2014 ‘finally’ on the path home to myself.

I had hoped that I had it all together but came to discover that I was due another proper break down, I wrote about my health journey here. 

And when I went back to Bali in 2017 for the life changing Embodiment Yoga Teacher Training. 

And the follow up Huntress Retreat in Greece and my homecoming in London.

Through out the earlier experiences I was still caught up in my head without the fluency of my more reliable internally focused and embodied language. 

(Something that I now teach with my 1:1 coaching clients)

Through all these experiences, tentatively at first I wanted to understand  just how and why it was that space was so transformative. 

How was it so radical and revolutionary?

That it didn’t need to be about luxury or comfort. 

That it’s not even about someone as privileged as myself (or Liz Gilbert) fleeing to a foreign shore, but that this quiet revolution could be happening in a lounge room with a locked door in suburbs the world over. 

As always with me I wanted to encapsulate the entire big picture of it, from Eat Pray Love to the 4th Wave of feminism. But these are things I am not good at. What I am good at is telling a story. 

A story about why taking time for yourself is so healing and so revolutionary and why women fear it above all else. 

We fear it because we know that it is revolutionary and that to choose yourself goes against every single fibre in a womens body, having been informed from the moment of our birth that this is not a safe thing to do. And most importantly because it cannot be undone. 

You cannot put yourself back in the box once you untie the bow, and we fear what this is going to look like in the aftermath. 

We fear that to choose yourself will result in being ostracised, shunned, killed even. 

Because heaven knows that we are killed at a rate in our own homes and streets that if it was any other communicable disease it would have been declared a national emergency by now.

At the very least we believe and fear that to choose yourself will result in a lack of belonging, and that choosing yourself results in being unlovable.

In the worst happening. 

All of the worsts.

We don’t have these big scary thoughts articulated in our minds though. These felt truths are tucked away under well meaning cultural stickers of;

 “I can’t right now my babies are small” 

“My husband needs my support while he finishes this latest project” 

“I will lose my footing in the career I worked so hard to have” 

“What will they think of me, other mums are coping just fine” 

“No-one will love me” “I will miss the boat” “I’m getting too old” 

If these stories are genuinely truthful, which they sometimes are, then there will be a freedom and recognition that your time is equal in value to these other pursuits, and that your enough-ness isn’t in question. And most importantly it is not necessary to abandon yourself for the needs of others. 

If you are reading this and are triggered, or you are hearing the ‘yeah but’ voice in your head I invite you to get curious.

Across the fabric of the last ten years I have stitched in, unpicked and rethreaded a narrative that said my inherent value was always in relationship to what I was giving to those around me and that the quiet voice of my own creation must be contained. 

In spaciousness a women is able to restore the “quiet animal” of her nervous system.    (Thank you Mary Oliver – Wild Geese)

In solitude a woman has the space to sink into her nature and find herself nourishment.

But most importantly she has time to commune with her desires and the inner compass that they inform.

Ever since Lilith followed her desires and officially broke the old testament we have been informed that otherness and lack of belonging is what will befall you should you go there in the shadows of your feminine desires. 

So what happens when the worst happens anyway?

What happens despite all your trying and limiting and squashing and resisting? When you find yourself standing in the rubble of your once perfect but ill-fitting life and you need to find your way in the dark, and you lack this internal compass? 

What exactly?

Here is one I prepared earlier for you my loves! 

My journey of the last ten years, the journey of Elizabeth Gilbert and the journeys both written in memoir and told around the table of “crazy Aunty Jenny” (whose actually really bloody happy with her choices thanks so much) are the stories of women finding their internal compass and choosing themselves.

These are the stories though, of women who chose themselves kinda the hard way in my opinion, as I really do believe that there can be an easier way. 

I believe that you do get to keep your marriages and careers and all the things we’ve been taught that we can’t have AND be sovereign. 


We need to face our fear and to question a lot of beliefs and unravel a lot of behaviours and have a whole bunch of hard conversations with the ones we love and risk being vulnerable. 

The worst is almost definitely going to happen anyway and rather than this being a pessimistic statement, it is in fact an invitation for you to be in contact with the most magical, resilient and creative parts of yourself so that your life with all its plot twists and joys and heartbreak is one of your own creation. 

If you’re terrified that spending time on your own is going to end your marriage then please let me gently inform you that spending time on your own is not the problem here. Avoiding valuing yourself will not keep you safe from hardship.

In my own personal experience the only thing I regret in my own marriage was that I didn’t have the skills to navigate a pathway to my own sovereignty and that my divorce necessarily became the start of that pathway.  It didn’t have to be this way. These skills are teachable, and we need to seek out others who can model these behaviours for us. 

(And this also doesn’t mean that I wish I was still married)

Duality thinking needs to be set down by the side of the road. 

Your marriage may end at some point, your career may shudder to a halt, people you love may leave your life in ways you wouldn’t choose. Your being ‘good’ and nice and abandoning yourself will not prevent this. 

The biggest hurdle to women beginning coaching with me isn’t the 4 figure price point or even the time involved.

It’s her fear and her belief that she needs to justify valuing and investing in herself to others, and that “time to herself” equates to time away from ‘us’ and ‘them’

It is duality thinking of us and them at it’s most oppressive (which is the whole point of it) 

There is not any possibility or consideration that it could be (and is) “And And” 

This is the phrase I coined to indicate that logic and therefore type thinking has no place in the model of self care that women need. 

I am going well beyond the put your own oxygen mask on platitudes here. 

Investing in her self in any kind of way, whether it is coaching, an Eat Pray Love trip to Bali or an afternoon each week on her own serves her in it’s own right AND for the wellbeing of the family and career.

There will be hard conversations to have, boundaries that need to be set, roles that need to be negotiated and an inherent sense of having to justify ‘why this is all necessary’ why suddenly what was once ok isn’t ok any more. 

Because it was never actually ok. 

The unconscious beliefs that are all pervasive in our culture, that connect our sense of needing to be loved and belong are not mutually exclusive with our need to thrive in our own right. 

And that for most women my age and the generations that are following our stumbling first steps we are experiencing and valuing this kind of sovereignty for the very first time in Herstory. 

And so there it is! Finally! 

A couple of thousand words to start what I hope will be an ongoing conversation.

There is so much more and will be so much more to share on this topic. 

Ten years feels like a pretty significant marker for me. It’s time I feel to bind this particular chapter of my story in it’s own book and put it on a shelf. 

Another chapter is being written. One that could not have been even imagined as possible before. I wish that for you too. 

There is no one size fits all model for the way we are creating our lives. 

Know that whatever you’re experiencing right now, I see you, I am sending enormous love and I want you to know you’re doing the best you can. 

And that it is and always will be enough. 




If you are curious about my coaching head here comment on this post or contact me here.


Eva-Rose Joyce

Acupuncturist after 6 months of Practitioner Coaching.

I enrolled in a year's worth of Practice Mentoring with Keri 6 months ago. It has been wonderful to have her on the other end of the phone for assistance with tricky clients, decisions on the direction of my practice and to benefit from her extensive experience in the spa industry. She’s generous with her knowledge and time, her articles are insightful and practical and I really feel she really speaks my language! I’m looking forward to what is in store for the next 6 months as I feel I have already come a long way.

S. Roth (after a 1:1 session)

/ S. Roth

I am home from Retreat and just was telling a friend how seeing you really helped me last week and I just wanted to say thank you for your care. It really helped me through my pain seeing you.

Kara Martini

I have found your gorgeous affirmations (that I have been reading over and over!) so helpful. Thank you so much for the healing work you did for me - you have such a beautiful caring nature, it helped me so much xx

Debbie Zita

Keri will lovingly and gently guide you through any emotional physical mental and of course spiritual blocks that you may be facing. She is not only a gifted intuitive but is highly intelligent and brings a sense of humour and ease to her work.

Lara Goode

Osteopath / South Eastern Osteopathy (Soon to be found at Rawreliefosteopathy.com.au!)

Words simply cannot describe just how amazingly magical Keri is. Starting my journey on an 8-week life coaching packaged was the best thing I ever did. Having such a supportive, intelligent and purely down to earth mentor literally changed my life. Her endless devotion and encouragement throughout our coaching sessions has helped me learn new life skills (both personal and business associated). As our program ended (and many tears were shed) I decided I could not possibly live without her and continued a monthly ‘maintenance’ of life guiding goodness! This coupled with body and soul nourishing acupuncture I wouldn’t have it any other way. Keri is now a valuable referral for many of my own clients and a close friend ? Jump on board people! You won't be disappointed! Xx

Ali Hill

Ali Hill

Psychologist/Speaker/Awesome Human

Keri’s ability to hold space when I was feeling hopeless, to cut through the noise when I was drowning is her gift to busy women. With her unique insights, her depth of experience and quirky humour, having her as a health coach bought me back to myself. When doubt rung louder than reason in my head, Keri’s practical advice gave me permission to be the biggest and best version of me. Every woman who is busy, drowning, losing sight of themselves will get huge value out of the words and wisdom that Keri shares. Do yourself a favour and get on board. I know that my future self is eternally grateful for the investment I made in having Keri in my corner.


Student of Nutrition

Thank you so much for sending me all those resources, and for taking the time to chat with me too! I felt so much better about my future even just after the little chat we had. That really meant the world to me and spun me a 180 in the right direction to a more positive outlook - so, thank you again.


Aged Care Worker and Magical Human

Thank you for the session on Friday I feel amazing! I seem to have more energy and even invited friends over for dinner on Saturday night which is not like me I don't usually initiate this but I did, so I'm feeling very happy and keep telling my family that I have had a great weekend. I am so happy to have met you and grateful that you have come into my life.

S. Roth (after a 1:1 session)

/ S. Roth

I am home from Retreat and just was telling a friend how seeing you really helped me last week and I just wanted to say thank you for your care. It really helped me through my pain seeing you.

Kara Martini

I have found your gorgeous affirmations (that I have been reading over and over!) so helpful. Thank you so much for the healing work you did for me - you have such a beautiful caring nature, it helped me so much xx