Read: The Story of Women and Power
Sometimes the biggest issue I think I have is ‘managing’ everyone else’s feelings. Somehow I ended up with this life-long feeling I am not only responsible for how everyone around me feels, but also for ‘fixing’ it and getting them back to feeling happy. And let’s make no mistake about it, society and in turn plenty of people in my life encouraged this belief and pattern.
So how does this change??
Well, what this all comes down to is my relationship to power. My relationship with my own power.
What have we been taught about women and power?
We have been taught that if a woman has power, it comes at the expense of another person’s feelings and/or diminishing another woman’s power. There is no such thing as two women in a room having equal, beautiful power. Of course this is not actually true. But this is what we have been taught.
How did I learn this? Well, I simply watched my mother and my grandmother interact. Or my mother and her sisters interact. It saddens me now to think about it, but there was only so much attention, validation and power to go around. If one of these women was having good fortune, it was always seen as a criticism of the other. And the best defence? Undermine and cast doubt on the other woman’s beliefs. Criticism was the best way to bring everyone down to the lowest common denominator, i.e. powerlessness.
In my teenage years, I was trained to lift well above my weight in emotional labour. This seeded my friendships, my relationships with colleagues and my romantic relationships or aversion to them for a long time. This was part of my power story. Plus the social pressures:
∞ Don’t be difficult.
∞ Don’t make anyone else feel uncomfortable.
∞ Don’t shine too brightly.
I watched the women I knew and the women in movies interact with men, I ‘knew’ a woman’s power lies in one of two ways:
1. Her selflessness and wholesome generosity.
2. Her femme fatale sexual power.
Choose a role.
Again, both of these options are actually all about powerlessness, or at the least your power being determined by someone else (i.e. their attraction to you or validation of you in how well you do either of the above).
Now none of this is news to either you or me. But the next question is crucial:
What is ‘my story’ about me and power?
Sadly, despite my best intellectual efforts I still lived out the above patterns and stories for a long time. I am not saying I adhered to this all the time, hardly. But I did always feel the sting when I stood up for myself, when I challenged what someone wanted me to do, or say. And my defences also became part of my ‘power story’.
In my forties I realised that I had well and truly outgrown those stories. In fact, the power I had longed for was already surging in my psyche. And this is where what I call Feminine Maturity began to take hold in my bones. The raw truth:
∞ I have immense natural power.
∞ I have the power of my feelings, my body, my intelligence, my creativity and my joy.
∞ I have the power of my vulnerability, my intuitive capacity, my compassion (for myself!) and the power of self-care.
I started to let go of relationship dynamics which no longer served me. I could no longer struggle with the unsaid tension, the feeling I had to shrink in order to be loved. I started to lean into my longings, listening deeply to what creativity and career options as yet un-lived. I got super clear on which circumstances and relationships drained me. I decided to move towards things that energised me. In all of this I became more grounded. I had access to a lot more intuitive wisdom and found it easier to make great decisions in the moment.
My story changed.
Accessing your Natural Power
If you want to access your natural power, start with curiosity:
What have I been taught about women and power?
What is my story about me and power?
Let’s be clear your natural power has never left you. It’s on the move within you. It’s time. You can:
∞ Embrace it.
∞ Stand in it.
∞ Speak from it.
∞ Shine with it.