There Is Something Blocking Women’s Ultimate Success, Happiness, and Fulfillment

That No One Is Talking About 

Does this sound familiar?

“My day is a whirlwind of on to the next thing, never ever stopping to smell the roses. It is never ever enough. Not enough degrees, money, relationships, accomplishments…”

“Striving and perfectionism has become my way, my motto, but now my body is no longer playing along. I don’t want to do this anymore.”

“I feel I am not able to relax or feel true joy. Lost the person I used to be and no longer feel happy or content.”

“I can’t imagine what it feels like to actually enjoy and savor my life. I don’t even know how to slow down for five minutes.”

“I have an inner critic who berates me. I am BRUTAL to myself. But I have a belief that this is the only way I’ve ever been able to get anything done. By beating myself up.”

“I experience imposter syndrome, even though consciously I feel tremendously capable. Despite all my accomplishments, I often feel like a complete failure.”

“I’m not living the life I desire, not having the global impact I know I’m meant to have.”

“I want to be present in my life. My life is amazing and yet I feel so disconnected from it and don’t experience the greatness.”

“I have been banging my head against this wall for years. It seems like no matter how much headway I make into understanding my issues, I can’t heal them.”


Women who have shared these with me are successful, ambitious, and brilliant.

They have done years of inner work in coaching, therapy, and personal development programs. They have read heaps of self-help books.

And yet they’re not where they want to be. They find themselves frustrated, oscillating between guilt about not feeling happy in the good lives that they have, and the deep inner knowing that there’s MORE to who they can be and what they get to create and experience.

They’ve invested tons of time, money, and effort in figuring out what’s holding them back from feeling truly, deeply happy and fulfilled and being, having, and experiencing that MORE…

And although they’ve made a lot of progress… This hasn’t changed at the core. Leaving them wondering,

“What’s wrong with me?”


Yes, reasons for this have been discussed ad nauseum in the media. Women are thought to be:

  • “sabotaging” themselves

  • “getting in their own way”

  • lacking in confidence or needing to fix their “mindset”

But what if it’s none of these things?

What if the real culprit is hidden in our nervous systems and subconscious mind?

There is something blocking women’s ultimate success, happiness, and fulfillment – as it’s not our fault. Is not our shortcoming. It actually has nothing to do with us.


And that something is trauma. Or, more specifically, trauma adaptations caused by millennia of patriarchal oppression.

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What is trauma?


I define trauma as any experience that made you feel unsafe – physically or emotionally – in your fullest authentic expression and led to developing trauma adaptations: thoughts, actions, and physical expressions designed to prevent you from re-experiencing the threat.


But I’m not talking about your garden variety trauma adaptations that all humans accumulate throughout life – although those most certainly also count – rather, I’m talking about trauma adaptations specific to high-achieving women in the modern world.

Trauma adaptations that are baked into our subconscious mind and nervous system before we are even born, because they have been created and reinforced in our ancestral genetic expression over thousands of years of patriarchal oppression.


I call this condition Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD), and it is the invisible inner prison women are born into.

There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing to fix. But there’s something to heal.

 Click HERE to download the first chapter of the book for FREE.

The glass ceiling is inside us, not “out there”

This is the barrier we need to be talking about – because it’s not “out there,” it’s inside us, and no amount of positive, empowered thinking or “self-help” is going to make a dent unless we address the root cause.

We need to see it for what it is and treat it as such: trauma.


The prison of PSD is built over a pit that is the original trauma inflicted on women by patriarchy: the wound of worth-less-ness. Millennia of oppression have impressed upon us, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that women’s minds and bodies are worth less than men’s.

The pain of this core wound is what we’re trying to escape through many and varied trauma adaptations.


  • We build sophisticated scaffolding (prescribed by patriarchal programming) out of our careers, businesses, marriages, relationships, and families.

  • We accumulate achievements and milestones, but as we climb higher, we still don’t gain freedom.

  • We don’t reach that magical place that seems to exist just beyond the horizon, when we will finally feel like we’re enough, and be able to rest safely in that embodied knowing.



Worst of all, if we’re fortunate enough to see the scaffolding for what it is and start to really go after our authentic desires (if we can even access them!), our subconscious registers this as unsafe and our nervous system goes into overdrive.

This may trigger anxiety, panic attacks, exhaustion, the inner critic and the imposter syndrome – among other symptoms.


Most women come to do this healing work with us after a part of their scaffolding collapsed and they are in crisis. If we have the awareness, the support, the guidance, and the right tools, this is the perfect opportunity to dig a tunnel out of prison.


How is ancestral trauma passed on?

A number of studies offer compelling evidence that trauma is passed on from generation to generation, not just through learned behaviors. The new science of epigenetics has shown that gene expression can and does change in response to environmental changes and experiences.


In an Emory University study, researchers introduced the smell of cherry blossoms to mice while simultaneously zapping their feet with mild electric shocks. The mice were then bred – and their children, and their grandchildren, when exposed to the smell of cherry blossoms, showed a strong fear and anxiety reaction.


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For women of today, happiness, wealth, pleasure and success on our own terms – anything that we authentically desire – are the scent of cherry blossoms.


The ancestral trauma adaptations of PSD tell us: stepping into your power is dangerous. You could be killed, raped, locked up in an asylum, burnt at the stake, humiliated.

We don’t consciously think this, of course, but our body reacts as if it were true – which puts our nervous system in overdrive.

As a result, as we reach for our authentic desires, we either feel like we’re running into the invisible inner walls trying to even access them or make them a reality. Or we do manifest them, but don’t experience the deep satisfaction, peace, ease, happiness, and joy we hoped we would.

Every time a woman of today chooses to step into her greatness and fulfill her authentic desires, she is besieged by PSD prison guards – my term for PSD trauma adaptations.

Their job is to keep us safe.

They accomplish it by keeping our bodies in vigilant survival mode, despite all our valiant attempts to thrive.

Jailbreak only becomes possible when we start to notice how these adaptations show up in our lives, when we understand the safety they are serving, and we create the experience of safety necessary for the prison guards to allow – and even support – our safe passage to freedom.

What do prison guards look like?

The most obvious ones are anxiety, fear and depression, but there are also far more subtle adaptations:

  • procrastination,

  • inaction,

  • tiredness,

  • forgetfulness,

  • overeating,

  • overdrinking,

  • a filter that prevents us from perceiving and seizing opportunities,

  • constant overwhelm,

  • fatigue,

  • trouble sleeping and relaxing,

  • a dead (or undead, mechanical) sex life…

All designed to protect us from being visible, powerful, fully authentically expressed in every area of our lives.



Women are not getting in their own way or sabotaging themselves.

We are carrying the intergenerational trauma of patriarchal oppression. And although we have more opportunity now than ever before to make lots of money, love who we love, and play big in the world – our subconscious that carries these traumatic imprints interprets all that as dangerous.

As a result, it either drives the bus away from our authentic desires – despite all our conscious efforts to move toward them or robs us of the enjoyment of the good lives that we have built, by keeping the nervous system in perpetual overdrive.

We need to understand, unpack, and heal PSD, so that success for women no longer comes with a side of burnout – and we shatter this patriarchal “norm” that is, literally, killing women.

Which begs the inevitable question: what’s the antidote?

Tools and practices that help reprogram the subconscious and rewire the nervous system so you can feel safe in your success.

Look out for my next article in which I’ll explore these tools in more depth.


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Click HERE to download the first chapter of Patriarchy Stress Disorder for FREE.


Dr. Valerie Rein is a clinical psychologist, women’s mental health in business expert and author of Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Inner Barrier to Women’s Happiness and Fulfillment. She has created the only science-backed system for helping women achieve their ultimate success, happiness, and fulfilment by healing this collective, generational trauma of oppression.

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