Women have been taught to please others, accommodate others, be kind to others and so on. While they can often fight tooth and nail for their best friend, colleague or for a social cause, women are repeatedly at a loss when it comes to having their own backs. Stepping into their own power and confidently standing up for themselves is something seldom modelled to, or embodied by, women. Consequently, many women find the thought of standing up for themselves scary:
- What if the other person gets mad?
- What if they leave me because of it?
- What if I lose my job because I speak up?
Toxic messages all around
The worries are endless and the results are the same, women give away their power—to their fear, their loved ones, the men in their life, their work and their world. They struggle with simply standing in their power and owning it. Most women don’t even know what having power means or what it would look like. Instead, women all over the world have bought into the toxic messages infused into them via television, magazines and their culture.
Women’s magazines teach women to be anything but powerful. Their messages focus instead on how to look alluring, dress sexy, attract a man and to gain happiness by losing weight, saying the “right” thing and other superficial changes—as though doing these things will be the answer to a happy life. Not only is this advice unhelpful, it’s often toxic. Far too many women have bought into these messages to such a degree that they’ve lost themselves, starved themselves, silenced themselves and, as a result, hate themselves.
This pressure sets women up to not see what they see, to not trust that they know what they know and to look to others for answers they actually have within themselves. All of these factors lead women to settle for less than they deserve—harmful relationships, unhealthy work environments, one-way friendships and unsatisfying lives. The messages from women’s magazines, television shows and our world at large sets women up to dummy down, slim down, cow down and ultimately, stay down.
The pitfalls of staying down
Women staying down, however, is not only harmful to women, it’s harmful to our world. Unless women get the courage to step up—in an entirely new way—we are destined for a pretty rocky ride, to say the least. When women keep themselves down, they teach their daughters and the next generation to stay down as well. We cannot afford future generations of women putting everyone else’s needs and wants ahead of their own. When we can’t fight for our own needs, we cannot expect others to fight for them either. Similarly, when we don’t have the courage to stand up to poor treatment, we expect that others too will treat us poorly—why would they treat us better than we treat ourselves?
It’s time women started fully stepping into their power and owning their place in the world—and not in a “bitchy-in-your-face” kind of way, but in a grounded, confident, matter-of-fact way. I propose that women step into the world in an entirely new way—with a Grounded Powerful Strength [GPS] rather than an aggressive strength or meekly. Much like a GPS is a roadmap for travel, a Grounded Powerful Strength is a women’s roadmap for life. Our world equates power with aggression. It’s time we challenged this old “power-over” paradigm and replaced it with a new, more effective, more powerful and more respectful “power-from-within” paradigm.
A GPS is all about that power-from-within. It’s about feeling confident in your own skin, trusting that you know what you know and being courageous enough to stand behind yourself in such a way that you have your own back without leaning on those around you. Few women are able to do this. We’re too worried about how others are going to respond, what they’ll think about us or how we’re going to look if we simply slow down and determine what we want, how we feel and what we would like to do—and to then courageously stand behind that. Our world would benefit beyond measure by women stepping up in this way.
How to access your GPS
- When we have the courage to let go of the toxic messages that push us to be anything but authentic, we create true change that can ripple into world change.
- Get off the treadmill of trying to fit in, be liked or please others. We have enough people acting like everyone else and letting go of what they believe in because they think these are the paths to being loved. Stop spending endless time and energy on becoming who you think others want you to be and instead figure out who you are, what you believe and how you want to be and boldly inhabit that space. True love happens as a result of what you’re made of on the inside, not what you look like on the outside. Strengthen your inside and the rest will fall into place.
Anger and the working woman
- Regarding having your back in times of upset and anger, avoid the extremes. Do not tip-toe, cower or walk on eggshells to calm another’s rage and never use your own rage to silence another’s voice. Cowering hurts you and bullying hurts those around you. Neither is okay. Set a limit to others’ rage and stay calm when you feel your own begins to rise. Find the middle—in life, relationships, work and even in strive. Ducking has harmed women throughout the ages and rage has harmed everyone. Avoid both. Allow the other person to have their reaction and don’t change your resolve as a result of their response. Step in with calm, confidence and strength and be proud of yourself regardless of the outcome.
- Making hard decisions is not easy. Taking the time to think through your options, your motivations and your goal, however, will help in the decision making process. Always take the high road, and make the decision that is in your long-term best interest. The more grounded and respectful you are in even the most difficult of times, the more powerful and strong your message is.
Power-from-within is about knowing what is and what is not okay for you and then walking in the world in a way that supports that knowledge. Rather than bashing the other person with your anger—in reaction to them bashing you with theirs—stay calm, matter-of-fact and grounded in your messages. Then see how GPS changes your relationships and your life.
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