You know that voice in the back of your head that is always telling you off? Yes, the one that sounds like a paternal figure telling you that you should have known better or they knew it wouldn’t work out and you should have too but now you’ve just messed everything up! Somehow that voice just knows when to appear at just the moment things don’t go as planned or the worse possible situation has occurred and you’re in the middle of it. That stern voice that overtakes our thoughts with it’s endless litany of ways we have once again failed.
I don’t like that voice.
Like I’m just over here trying to figure out life, juggling 1000 things at once between the family, work and where I can squeeze in that 30 minutes of exercise I’m supposed to do today. Making it all go as best I can and that voice just never seems to let up. Of course what I’m doing is impossible. Yes something is going to come crashing down sooner or later but as moms, wives, employees and all the other hats we women wear what else are we supposed to do? So we just take the voice, letting it beat ourselves up for once again not living up to expectations. Ok that’s probably the easiest thing to do and oh by the way I’m already doing that.
I don’t believe women were born with this nagging voice inside them telling them they are not good enough. If I had to guess, and this is only my speculation, I think it started ages ago when women were considered property and judged in value for their looks, ability to have children and usefulness to her family in terms how well she could be married off and took care of her husband. This value placed on us by others became how we judged each other and ourselves. It was a bad thing not to marry well and bear children. It was a very bad thing if you’re husband wasn’t pleased with you. It is also here that I believe the first friend-enemy was born. We were made to compete to one another but not acting like we were because that wasn’t ladylike.
While we like to think we’re not like that anymore that way of thinking persists today in what we define as beauty and success. I could be wrong about this theory but it seems to make sense to me.
We still compete with one another. We still uphold the definitions of value by society’s terms. What has shifted is in what we define success but it is not any less complex than it was in our history. Success today is defined by the woman who can climb the corporate ladder, have a happy family balanced with her career, clean house, perfect manicure and wear a size 0-6 without showing any scars, cellulite or gray strands in her hair. If you can’t do that then you are not considered successful and often overlooked by others, including employers. Surviving in today’s modern world when we are surrounded by outdated ideals and expectations while feeling isolated by one another seems a recipe for disaster and it has been for many of us.
Begging designers to make real woman sizes and companies to make healthier food that doesn’t contain toxins and leave us feeling icky doesn’t work. Breaking glass ceilings and fighting for our rights is awesome but then we are faced with even more scrutiny by others, including other men for how we got there and constantly having to prove ourselves. It’s exhausting and relentless. We can tune it all out and I have done this myself but you end up even more alone than you were before. So how do women survive in this viciousness that only changes the style but is still the same game it has been for centuries?
It is very hard to be different in today’s world. It is equally hard to not feel uncertain when someone looks at you like you are different and weird. To be honest it is one of the hardest things in the world to just be you. We are taught to fit in as moms and what they should be doing to be called a good mom, how we should be a perfect wife and excellent employee. We are taught to not be emotional, especially don’t cry in the workplace as that shows weakness. So we can wear all the t-shirts we want that say just be kind and be you but at the end of the day, those are just words with no meaning if we can’t act on those things.
I don’t know if there is a complete answer to this situation but I do know we as women are killing ourselves and our friendships with each other by upholding it. We miss out on so much as a result too. We miss out on good solid honest friendships because someone takes someone else’s idea, husband, boyfriend, job promotion for their own gain. We miss out on paying it forward by helping one another get ahead because we’re afraid they will take our spot and be better than us. We don’t trust one another because of past betrayals, schemes, and more that left us hurt and vulnerable. Too many of us are not fully invested in our female relationships because of these things too.
Like most things in our life, it won’t change or get better until we do something about it too. Collectively and individually it is up to us to change it. This isn’t about a fight for rights, how corporations operate or even how society defines us. It’s about us and how we treat one another. Until we put down our swords and shields against each other we won’t change anything else about this situation. Until we stop seeing each other as competition trying to outshine each other this will continue. Until we stop stealing and cheating each other we will only perpetuate how society treats us. That’s harsh I know but truthfully and lovingly I say these things to help us realize we are still treating each other like property with value no more than that of so many head of cattle and sheep.
The survival guide I have found is that we need to stop. Just stop and breathe. Take a moment to really look at ourselves and one another and what we are doing to us. For me this looks like:
Stopping the negative self-talk about how fat, ugly, old, wrinkly, scarred my body is and that it will never be a size 0
Realizing my value is more than my job title and salary
Appreciating that I am a mom who does great things for my family every single day even when I don’t get it all done
Truly and honestly supporting, cheering on and encouraging other women to pursue their dreams while I pursue mine and receive their support and love
Building fresh, open, honest friendships that are free of the pettiness and competition that tears us down individually and as a team
These things I listed out for myself stem from what I see as being able to be me more often. I will still need to put on my job hat and pretend to enjoy being talked down to, playing the political game to secure a paycheck but I will have something different about me. I will still be discouraged when I find a cute outfit and it’s not in my size but even there I will know I am alright. I may still feel betrayed by people I called friends but it just means they aren’t where I am yet. Namely that each of us has the power to be what we need to be and what we want to be in this life. We can move in grace and love knowing the societal standards of beauty and value don’t apply to us any longer. We can build relationships with each other based on trust and integrity that will stand the test of time and challenge because we know each person’s path is different than our own. There is no competition with anyone except who we were yesterday.
That my friend is really the key to surviving and making this life your own. Much like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz we had what we needed all along we just needed to know how to use it and be ready for it. We knew all along what others were telling us and putting on our shoulders was crap but we carried it anyway. Some of it we will always carry but we can be free of most of it. When we choose to make our life our own we become different. Others who don’t understand it yet will look at us strangely but that’s ok. We can extend the hand to help them without fear they will outshine us. We can enjoy true beautiful friendships that enrich our lives because they are not our competition or friend-enemy.
When we choose to change how we see things in and around us we change how we think about it all. We change from feeling held to impossible expectations, long outdated beliefs about our value and purpose and ceilings to feeling good in our own skin. That first sensation of feeling good about who you are feeds us in a way no bland salad we don’t want to eat anyway ever will. We feel a fire lit that can grow letting us be more and more of who we really are comfortably and without fear of judgement. That’s when the magic happens too. That’s when we see others willing to break free of things not serving them and we connect with like minded souls seeking that true friendship we all crave.
Best of all, the voice that’s telling us we aren’t good enough, did it wrong or looked stupid, shuts up. Yes, she goes away and only comes back when we let the noise and pressure of what we should be doing come back into our view. What comes in her place though is completely different. Like us being different this new voice is gentler, wiser and calmer. She doesn’t scold us for failing but says “let me help you up” and let’s try again. That shift in tone, message and encouragement based on our own self-love and desire to grow fully into our own being is a thing of beauty unlike any other. It’s a voice we all crave to hear and can finally be brave enough to let out to support us on our journey.
If you’re ready to explore how this can look for you, I invite you to take the free Lifestyle & Wellness Survey. Helping you live naturally is one of the best ways to feel more like yourself and let it grow into all areas of your life. Check it out here: https://forms.gle/XivJrYN1Jj7Be3EM9