by JK, UK
I was recently reminded, at a women’s group I regularly attend, how much we can either disempower ourselves or empower ourselves while being out in the world. Reflecting on this I realised that the choice to disempower has in the past come too readily. Let me explain further.
When I say disempower, what I mean here is that I’ve left my house feeling fairly content with the way I look, the way I feel and with the day ahead of me, then something happens to change that. That something has for me been triggered by:
- Seeing another woman who looks amazing
- Seeing another woman who deals with a situation confidently in a way that doesn’t deter her from where she was heading
- Receiving a comment from another woman about the way I look, for example ‘Have you lost weight? You look thin?’
- Having another woman stare at me, or who looked me up and down
- Standing in front of a counter waiting to be served and the woman behind the counter completely ignores me as though I’m not even there
- Walking past the beauty counters in a store and two women working there look at me then giggle.
What has happened in each of these actual scenarios is that I have in that moment doubted myself in some way and the sparkle that I left the house with has dipped. In reaction to each of these scenarios I have disempowered myself by questioning in my mind
- Do I look as amazing as the other woman?
- Could I deal with that situation as confidently as that woman did?
- I don’t feel like I’ve lost weight, but maybe I have?
- Maybe that woman who stared at me saw something I didn’t? Have I got spinach on my teeth? A lump of mascara on my forehead? Did I accidently tuck my skirt into my knickers etc.!
- Am I worthy of that woman paying attention to me and serving me?
- Those girls at the beauty counter probably think I’m too old to wear these trousers!
From this questioning in my mind I feel deflated and less than I was feeling when I left the house; I then feel uncomfortable in my own skin.
I’m sure some of these scenarios feel familiar to you, and when I consider this now it feels ridiculous to have those thoughts, particularly as I had left the house this morning feeling sparkly, and looking lovely.
So what happens in the disempowering…. how do we go from feeling sparkly and empowered to feeling disempowered by one single moment or encounter?
What I am realising (and this is work in progress for me) is that for so long I have taken the outer (things people say or to me, at me and about me) with such validity that I have not stopped for a moment to check out how I actually, truly feel in that moment, and to confirm that to myself BEFORE I take on something from outside of me.
I have given my power away to the outer, like a comment from another woman, without even allowing myself to stay sparkly and steady. This now feels ludicrous because deep down inside I know I feel great and whatever anyone else says or feels, that greatness is still there. It might be different if for instance, a bucket of water fell on my head as I went to work (though arguably, why would even that change the loveliness I feel inside!?), however nothing had actually changed since I left my house, so why did I choose to take on what another said or did?
The ridiculousness of this is that in these scenarios it is me who chooses to disempower myself, to disconnect from the sparkle I could feel by giving more credence to the outer world (and what for example, another woman does or says) – and I choose that, rather than be guided by my own inner sense of myself and my own inner feelings. There is no one else I can blame for these situations whatsoever – I can’t blame that lady for looking at me, or the woman for looking gorgeous, as it was me who reacted and me who, through that choice, became deflated, right in front of my own eyes.
So where am I going with this?
For me, the simplicity of this awareness has already empowered me:
I feel empowered knowing it is ME who makes the choice to deflate myself, to choose something outside of me to have more credence than what I feel. What I am now inspired to do is to observe when these moments occur and realise in that moment I have a choice – to dip, or to stay steady.
Understanding myself more deeply from this is empowering. It is possible that my responses to those scenarios could now be
- Wow! That woman looks gorgeous, how amazing (and be inspired by her)
- I can learn from the way that lady confidently dealt with that situation; that was inspiring
- I know my weight hasn’t changed, I feel great
- She must be staring at me because I’m so sparkly, yay to that!
- That woman isn’t looking at me – she obviously needs sunglasses because of my dazzling sparkle before she can serve me!
- Those girls are appreciating my loveliness, as am I.