Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.
Coretta Scott King
I am very blessed to spend much of my working life around women and this weekend I have been surrounded by brave, intelligent and beautiful women. Women who are open to learning, building and exploring their inner and outer worlds. The predominant theme it would seem was freedom. Not the expected external feminist, post-modern woman-struggle misogynist-battling freedom but the internal struggle for liberation or rather lack of it. How can we expect to save our world as its soul if we are internally incarcerated?
I have heard woman after woman tell me that their goal this year is to silence the sabotaging side of their inner dialogue. The need to carefully dissolve the incredibly intricate and convincing story their minds are creating about whether they are good enough…fair enough…..too milky white….not dark enough…..pretty enough……a failure……an under-achiever…….stimulating enough or not……successful……a terrible decision maker….a bad mother….you know the lyrics to this song – all women do. Sometimes this list feels endless!
I spent a wretched new year’s eve in bed with flu listening to the sounds of my family having fun, receiving messages of frivolity and celebration, woken again and again by messages, revellers and fireworks – Edinburgh really knows how to celebrate New Year’s Eve! By 2am I was completely convinced the entire world was having a good time without me – on purpose! I soon realised how ridiculous this place was my mind had taken me as the threads all slipped away in the morning and I got the real story from the world via WhatsApp, FaceTime, Facebook and all the other streams of virtual consciousness we allow to infiltrate so frequently. One by one the reality began to unravel my phenomenal story of world joy while I suffered. Tales of mediocre events, bad hangovers, disappointed evenings as well as a good times showed me just how much we torture ourselves with our imaginal realities. Our capacity to have someone stealing, cheating, lying, rejecting or loving us is incredible.
Again and again I have gathered story after story of blame. The template for this sabotage is made over the years by our mothers, our societies, our cultures, our media, our education systems, who we allow to influence and teach us, organised religion and endless other threads. These may also be the positive and strengthening influences we can harness to lift ourselves but many times they are whispering and cajoling us to think until the 90’s our backsides were too big and now seemingly they cannot be ever big enough! There are no doubts that these threads inform our inner world but should we allow them to have the power to pull the puppet strings of our self-esteem, our direction, our satisfaction with life and how we value what we have achieved thus far.
This last season I have also been asking myself the same questions over and over again. I am playing with process to figure out what they are? Are they true? Where do they come from? Is there any basis or hard evidence for what my mind is conjuring up? Some of the women around this weekend had some fantastic suggestions too ….talking back to the voice….”No, thank you, not now” “Thank you for that – I will deal with it later” “Fuck off!” “Are you sure?” “Do I really believe that?” “If that is true then what shall I do about it?” It was really powerful for some to write down the beliefs they wanted to discard on a piece of paper and burn it. I believe all spiritual traditions try to silence this sabotaging inner voice in order to let the higher voice rise. Often working with the breath, the body and the voice – the yogis have the so and the hum, the Sufis have the Al-lah, the Buddhists the chant and as that inner stillness is achieved we can really go to work on what we can do to rise up and better ourselves.
How about when we hear that story start up we yell STOP!!! Not now!!! Thank you for your opinion now get the hell out of here!! How about we stop judging ourselves first and surely this leads to the cessation of our most damaging sin as women – judgement of other women? How about we raise ourselves up so that we can really be in a space to elevate others? How about we be a sister to ourselves first before we expect to foster sisterhood with others? How about we look at how much we love ourselves before we try to share our love with others? How about we look at ourselves naked in the mirror and truly and authentically say we are beautiful because you are beautiful – we all are. All the wrinkles that mark the passage of your life, the stretch marks that mark the passage of your babies, the grey hairs that show your wisdom, the teenage spots that show that change is afoot and you are finally becoming a woman, the big lips, the thin lips and the freckles. How about we free ourselves from these chains and how about before we even attempt the external revolution we cause the internal one so that we can truly lead as strong, whole women. Then truly this is how we find our freedom.