Welcome back! I hope this week has contained both joy and challenges for you. I hope you had to struggle just enough to instigate a touch of inner growth. After, I hope you took ridiculously good care of yourself.
We are moving farther down our path of reimagining the Hero’s Journey into the Heroine's Journey as part of a multi-week series leading up to the spring session of my self-care renewal program, Self Care 101.
(Are you ready to stop making the same mistakes? Do you want to know how to find a sustainable balance between your work and your life? I describe this 10-week group coaching program as group therapy meets a slumber party. You will make huge self-care breakthroughs and have a lot of fun along the way. Apply here.)
Now back to our Journey! Personally, I’ve been loving this exploration. It’s been so interesting to ponder what makes an empowering journey uniquely feminine. I look at my own life, and those of the of people I admire, and notice what feels truly balanced.
This week has me thinking about power. At brunch a few days ago with my wise friend (and great coach) Allie, she shared that her definition of masculine power is listening to a power that comes from outside of yourself.
Feminine power, in turn, is tuning into the power that comes from inside of yourself.
That felt so true to me. Since we live in a masculine-powered world, we are used to taking commands from other people. We start with having to obey to our parents, move to pleasing our teachers and finally, must listen to our bosses.
The message is clear -- someone else knows better than we do.
We have two ways of responding to outer power. We can either conform or we can rebel. Conforming means we are rewarded, but we never feel autonomous. Rebelling means we feel mighty as we fight against the power, but perhaps exhaust ourselves in the process.
They look quite different, but both responses are still motivated by external power. When I look at the world, I notice most people shaping their lives around a masculine view of power that comes from the outside.
In our current political situation in the U.S., people are either loving or hating the dominant power structure. Regardless of our opinions, this outside power is still controlling a lot of our minds and our daily lives.
So what about this other source of power? What does it mean to tune into inner power?
Honestly, I am not quite sure. The problem with discovering a more feminine-centric path is that it just hasn’t been done that many times. Most of our modern world is a reaction to masculine forms of power.
Yet, we have some awesome role models: people who have tuned into themselves first and foremost and held tight to that, even when it riled the dominant power structure.
I think of Maya Angelou. I think of Joan of Arc. I think of Oprah Winfrey. I think of Jesus.
To me, their way of listening to themselves and trusting their power, even when the world wanted them to conform, shows a different quality of being. They were, and are, willing to risk everything to stay true to themselves.
Once they taste this inner power, they know they can’t go back to the old way. These people continue to inspire us because they knew how to do something very special and quite powerful. As they looked inside and courageously expressed what they found, the world was forever changed.
Ok, interesting ideas. But what does this have to do with self-care?
When I talk to prospective clients, they usually list off everything they’ve tried that hasn’t worked. They tell me about their personal trainer who they stopped going to after the holidays. They talk about the diet handed to them from their nutritionist that worked at first, but then they couldn’t keep up.
This self-care back-and-forth has all of the dynamics of a masculine power struggle. We are listening to ideas from outside of us to tell us how to feel healthy. At first, we conform and it feels like it’s working. However, because it’s our nature, we eventually begin to rebel against what we’ve been told.
We honestly don’t like to be told that many things. We want to do it our way. Yet, we also want to feel healthy. What do we do?
My philosophy on self-care is that you are the only one who knows the right balance for yourself. Some us thrive on meditation and others need daily exercise to feel good. Some people do best on a paleo diet and others need to be vegetarian.
I honestly don’t have many opinions on what we should be eating or the best kind of exercise. I know what works for me, most of the time, and I believe that each of us knows how to take care of ourselves.
What we need is the time and space to listen to ourselves. Once we tap into this power inside of us -- getting quiet enough to listen to “the small voice inside,” as my friend Julie says -- we know what we need to do. We know how to do it.
Once we realize that no one else is going to do it for us, it forces us to take responsibility for our own well-being. This is painful, and it’s the most empowering experience there is for all of us.
In my life, I’ve been so grateful to have found empowering bodies of knowledge like yoga and Ayurveda. They have given me the tools for authentic self-discovery and shown me how to bring myself back into balance.
They have taught me how to listen -- first to myself and then to the rest of the world. By listening, I learn how to put myself first, so I have enough energy to then serve others. It’s helped me to see my true value and worth as a human being, and to see how I have to care for myself in order to be the change I want to see.
Yes, some days I want to go back to conforming or rebelling. Listening to external power can sometimes feel easier than doing the work of sitting still and listening to myself. I don’t know why it’s so hard, but it is just so very hard sometimes.
But then I look around at my beautiful life. It looks so very much like me. It’s been my own creation, and brings me so much joy. I think of how much I had to ignore outer influences so I could really choose my own way. There’s been a lot of suffering along the way, but I wouldn’t take any of it back because I needed to learn.
I’m still learning. I’m still listening. It’s all part of my Heroine’s Journey.
How about you? Are you ready for a different experience of power? Let’s tune in. Let’s listen. Let’s really be ourselves.