Women need to take themselves seriously. This is not to suggest that we should never laugh or play. What is does mean is that we need to stop conspiring against ourselves and enabling and colluding with others against ourselves and for no reason except to ‘fit in’, to be ‘normal’ or to make others feel comfortable.
When and where does the thought happen about who and what a woman is and is capable of? How do we behave in that moment? What do we believe about ourselves? What responses do we choose which are merely habituated based on the stories we’ve believed both individually and culturally
Everything starts before we are born. We are profoundly affected by the chemistry of the watery womb we live in inside our mothers. My mother’s beliefs about herself in her world had an effect upon her body and its chemistry. That had an effect on me. And if you agree with Zoltan Kodaly, you will know that children in utero can hear and respond to the world into which they will be born. So, some patterns are in place every before we make our appearance and draw our first breath. And then we are born. As infants, we don’t have language but we learn – we hear and we see and we figure how to be in our physical world. And as we acquire language, all we really want is to be seen in the space and truth of who we are and to be heard. But, by that time, our thoughts about who we truly are, have been skewed by all that we have come to believe from even before our very first breath – not only from our parents, but from our friends, and our teachers, and the media.
I taught secondary school for 33 years. I’ve lived for 62 years. And this is what I’ve observed. How I’ve seen women (in general), no matter their age, act and the strategies they employ.
- edit ourselves – we don’t say what we truly believe or we don’t say it in the way which truly resonates with us
- calibrate others like hell and often become chameleons changing our behaviour and language as the situation, we believe, requires
- mind our p’s and q’s – we know our place and mind our space
- adopt and metabolize the habits of acquiescence – we agree even when we don’t really agree
- wait for permission to do anything – speak our piece, ask for what we want
- manage what we’ve got or are given rather than create what we want
- limit ourselves – we don’t dare be larger than life or be our truly immense selves — we keep ourselves small so as to not draw attention to ourselves and in that way we will be accepted and safe
- tell ourselves, when we are disappointed or feel marginalized, that it doesn’t matter and that it’s not really important
- excuse our emotions especially our rage and resentment – we tell others that “Well, you know how I am.” or some such phrase
- don’t show our hurt– we walk away or we shut our feelings very deep down inside
- laugh at sexist jokes even when we are offended – we rarely make our true feelings known
- become hyper-judgemental of ourselves – somehow we believe that if we say it first, then it will hurt less
- laugh at ourselves making self-deprecating comments – again if we say it, then it won’t have any power to hurt us
- become fearful of ourSelves – who we truly know ourselves to be, AND how we truly feel – we worry what would happen if we let it all out.
- develop a very loud inner critic – we come to believe that we are not ‘good enough’
Why do we adopt these kinds of behaviour? Consider our cultural conditioning. This starts with our mothers and the other significant women in our lives. We watch them and how they act and we believe a story of the underlying reasons for their actions. From this, we believe what it means to be a woman and how women should act and what they are capable of. And then we look at how women are portrayed in media and, in watching and listening, come to believe how women should look and act and what is possible for them. Consider that if we hear it often enough, we come to believe it. And as we watch and listen, our sense of self transforms and our identity as woman is formed. And we get caught in the stories we’ve heard and been told and have told ourselves about how we need to be in order to be accepted and acceptable and safe.
What is the price we pay for these behaviours and the strategies we put into place?
We women become:
- watchful and hypervigilant
- insecure and self-doubting
- waiting and expectant
- angry and resentful
- depressed and prone to psychosomatic illness
- afraid of our intensity, emotions, and ourSelves
- judgemental of ourselves and also of others
The end result of all this is that our identity, our sense of self is skewed – mired in story – the stories we’ve told ourselves and the stories we’ve been told about who we, individually, are and who women are and how women should be, collectively. We lose ourselves. Our potential is truly wasted.
That is the cost of not taking ourselves seriously. And what do we gain? Perhaps a sense of safety, of being ‘normal’, of ‘fitting in’.
Consider that we seek known road maps of being what we’ve come to believe is expected in order to feel connected and safe. Depending upon the identity that we hold for ourselves, we will keep recreating experiences which map to that identity. When our conversations with ourselves and others are at the where, when, what, how level, we cannot be more or see the more that is possible! We get used to the trap of being ‘normal’ and fitting it.
In loosing who we really are, we become our own worst enemies. We may rail against ‘so much the unfairness of things’ but we don’t believe we have a choice to break free, to STOP. We ask, “How can I change everyone else? How can I change the world?” We loose sight of the fact that the only person we need to change is ourselves – to respond to the inner call of who we know ourSelves to be. And so we must STOP making nice, being the comfortable one, and denying our power.
Women are truly fierce. In that fierceness, the time is NOW to be done with all which does not truly serve or map to who we know, in our cells, we truly are. We must see that how we change our culture is by knowing that WE ARE the one in our lives. We must reference ourSelves and forge ahead to create our lives – lives which are a profoundly grounded expression of who we know ourSelves to be in all our greatness.
Our evolution is in direct proportion to the size and courage of the questions we ask ourselves. It is in our willingness to be uncomfortable even as we claim our birthright. It is in being arrogant to know that WE ARE our own road map and that we have the right to say what we need to say, do what we need to do, and go where we need to go as we move forward to create our space rather than know our place.
We women, taking ourSelves seriously, dare to claim our personal truth. We step into the fullness of our ferocity and power! We are not afraid of it nor do we shy away from it.
We women, taking ourSelves seriously, need to DIG deep – to get deliberate, get inspired, get going. Ask ourselves –“ Do I choose what I have known or the more that I can become?” “Do I choose experiences which light me up or do I live my life through habit?” If we believe that we can become more, we will create experiences and make choices that will map to that!
To take ourselves seriously, we need to STOP the old insanity – NOW ask ourselves who we are and be willing to be that even as we might feel vulnerable – and GO and create our own space which is the expression of who we know ourSelves – our large ‘S’ selves – to be.