For over 20 years, I have been specialising working with women, on a one to one basis and more recently in Red Tent groups.
This week, I have been struck, yet again, about how many common issues women have. I feel honoured that women open up and share in my company real issues that they are dealing with on a daily basis.
Women are regularly sharing with me how they experience anxiety, feelings of not being worthy enough, of jealousy – that other women seem to have it all/able to do it all – and they feel inferior to this.
With my one to one work, women regularly apologise to me about their physical body – sorry my legs are hairy, sorry I haven’t done my nail varnish, sorry I’ve eaten garlic – my breath might smell, sorry my hands are too hot/cold/sweaty, sorry if I smell – I’ve been running around all day, sorry my hair is wet – I’ve just had a shower. The list goes on….
As women we have been encouraged from a very young age, by advertising campaigns (let alone other women!) and female products to not love the way we look, smell, behave. To not value our innate qualities of being emotional, caring, compassionate, forgiving, yielding.
As I was thinking about writing this blog this morning, I opened a magazine and came across an advert:
“Give a gift she’d really love – More Confidence.”
Now you might ask – how would you encourage a women to feel more confident, tell her how amazing you think she is? tell her about all the qualities you admire in her? how you love her clothing style? tell her she looks lovely?
None of the above –
“Beautiful Natural looking eyebrows, Kissable lips and more..”
Oh my god! You have got to be joking!
This is just the ideal example for this blog – so you go to a cosmetic consultant to “receive” natural looking eyebrows??? Surely the most natural looking eyebrows you get by doing absolutely nothing to them!
Kissable lips – the implication being that they aren’t currently kissable?
This is just one advert in one (fairly classy, not just for women) magazine. As women, we get bombarded on a daily basis by advertising campaigns saying we need to spend money changing the way we look and smell.
I have noticed in the last few years that many sanitary products are not scented – again the implication that the most natural physical excretion of a woman is dirty, unclean and needs to be helped by an artificial, chemical scent!
No wonder, the majority of women that I know, have issues with feeling good enough.
What can we do?
Well we can start by telling our women friends/family on a regular basis what you love/like/admire about them – their qualities of listening, compassion, generosity, caring, their mothering skills, their ability to handle so many situations, their ability to multi-task, their softness, their ability to listen to and attend to their needs,
Compliment other women from a heartfelt space. Not from a begrudging or jealous or insincere place.
We can show compassion and understanding for their emotions – their anxiety, their weepiness, their irritability, their joy, their passion. We can share with them, that we too experience these emotions.
We can compliment other women on the way they look, what they wear (however, remember we are all given a human body with imperfections and discrepancies). There isn’t such a thing as perfection. How someone looks is not who they are. We are all beautiful. Don’t get caught up in the world view of what makes someone beautiful. A word of caution: Don’t compliment other women and run yourself down at the same time. eg “I love your hair today – mine looks awful!”
We can pledge to never gossip about other women, including celebrities. Women who have become “successful” and famous take a huge amount of flack about the way they look, their “bikini body”, their aging – are they aging well?. We must support and admire ALL women.
Because all that we think about other women is, really and truly, all that we are thinking about ourselves.
When we judge another woman for the way she looks, we are judging something about the way we look. When we judge a woman for being too weepy, or irritable or too powerful or too beautiful, we are judging our ability to feel beautiful or powerful or express our emotions. When we criticise a woman for the way she handles or doesn’t handle something, we are criticising ourselves.
I have observed that often women complain about pre-menstrual tension – they can’t control their weepiness/irritability etc. it is often because there are these judgements going on regularly and there is a lack of acknowledging our needs, or attending to our physical bodily needs and emotional requirements. In our pre-menstrual week, our ability to ignore these needs is reduced, so we become more prone to lose “control”. If we tune in and listen more closely to what we really need and act upon it (emotionally and physically) throughout the month, I think you will find, your premenstrual “feeling out of control” lessens significantly.
So finally, the last (and most important) thing we can do, is to tell ourselves on a regular basis (at least three times a day!) how wonderful we are. What an amazing job we do with our lives. We can be compassionate with ourselves. We can listen to ourselves, our needs. We can attend to our physical body in a caring and loving way. We can acknowledge our emotions and allow them all to be valid – they are all transient anyway. We can admire our ability to be loving, kind and forgiving.