Women have been given valuable social approval and currency for using their power to care for others first and tending to themselves second. This dynamic is partly innate and partly through generations of learning how being “nice” and “good” was preferred by others. Changes initiated by increased access to birth control and financial created more choices and opportunities for contemporary women….and often our deepest integrity as women was absent in our choices and changes.
One of the challenging truths my clients-men and women-hear me offer is how avoiding exercising our power often derives from a case of the “pleaser first, me seconds”. And while we may truly believe a lack of conflict equals safety for ourself or a relationship, avoiding conflict is avoiding exercising power. Not knowing how to exercise our power constructively we often choose instead to suppress expressing ourselves with integrity. And we all know how well THAT works as a strategy! Conflict is natural, necessary, and an invitation for our power (expression of ourselves) for informing, illuminating, and uplifting ourselves and the other.
So how do you know if you are challenged with exercising your power?
- You tell yourself it’s not a big deal when a friend or family member puts you down in front of others-again!-and you don’t speak up (for yourself) for that would not be nice. Instead, you spend the rest of the day silently seething and fantasizing about moving to where nobody in your family will ever find you!
- You long for more intimacy with your lover than watching TV together every night and tell yourself to be satisfied and not “rock the boat” as you pour yourself yet another glass (how many is that tonight?) of wine.
- You find yourself drawn to tending those at the end of their life, but finding a training program for hospice care that doesn’t interfere with the soccer carpool has been impossible.I mean, how can you ask others to put themselves out with helping you? What calls to you (heart and soul) will just have to wait until the kids are grown up and people don’t need you (never!).
- You grew up learning how important making others happy was for making those around you happy in life, so pleasing others is easy. But as you sit in a yet another meeting at a job you truly dislike, you wonder is this really as good as your life gets?.
There is not a woman alive who does not experience insecurity at times with exercising her power…..when to speak up, where to show up, when to stand up. What creates security and certainly in our expressions of power is new (really old) learning, practice, and the courage to honor power inside as well as outside. Exercising power as contemporary women requires our time and care for listening, trusting, and taking action from wisdom of the silence within ourselves. This is not the power we learned of control over others ….this is the power of the clarity of our wisdom, the courage we commit to living our convictions, and the compassion we offer ourselves and WITH the others in our life.
We live in a time of rapid evolution, our gift of a lifetime for our souls to evolve the sacred marriage of life as human. Whether we live in fear or live in faith and trust depends on our choices of beliefs, skills, and integrity we engage as we navigate our days…..days calling for living our grace in ways practical and for honoring the grit of life as sacred.