“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
If you are a woman, the most powerful move you can make for yourself and the planet is to stand for another woman.
Why? One reason: she is you.
This isn’t an esoteric idea of Oneness. One of the greatest unifying factors of countries and cultures all over the world is that globally, women are second-class citizens. From girls who are kidnapped into sexual slavery to women in the U.S. earning coins to men’s dollars, we are not yet even close to equality for men and women on this planet.
All of the ways women are disregarded, underestimated, discriminated against, and worst, abused and killed, are rivers that flow from the same source – the desire of the patriarchy (by the way, men are hurt by patriarchy too, but that’s for another conversation) to remain in power.
It’s easy to say a phrase like “the patriarchy” and dismiss it, but how many times have you been made to feel like your body is the wrong shape, your thoughts don’t matter, and like you are occupying too much space in the world? I write this with confidence, because every woman in the world has been made to feel this way as a consequence of the patriarchy at some point in her life. The teacher or boss who routinely interrupts you. The advertisements that give you a sinking feeling of inadequacy in your stomach. At its base, the belief system underlying it is no different than that of the men in other parts of the world who use women as a form of currency – “women aren’t really people.”
The result of routine oppression and suppression is self-hatred, which often manifests as the hatred and abuse by women at the hands of other women. The emotional belief is that if someone tells you that something is wrong with you or that you don’t matter, it must be true, right? So the damaging beliefs are perpetuated, not only by men but by the woman who comes to believe them about herself.
She is you. You are her.
When you unlearn the tendency to criticize yourself, you start to look at other women differently, and vice versa. When you start to train your eyes to look around your world and see women not as competition, but as allies whose lives you can change, you soften your gaze upon your inner landscape as well.
You should help other women, because in doing so, you help yourself by stepping out of self-hatred and into loving action towards the feminine.
Helping women is also a way of tending the world. Imagine a world in which every single woman looked at every other woman and saw her as a sister. Much of the world’s conflict would end immediately under the powerful effect of this simple act.
How do you help the women around you and in doing so, step out of your self-hatred?
woman you can help is you. Exercise healthy narcissism (yes, there is such a thing!) by engaging with the things and people that make you feel whole. Instead of being the “them,” a member of the less important group of human beings on the planet, make yourself the “us.” Take time every day to remember that you are a force of nature itself, who has the power to change the world through her actions. Then, place your loving attention on another woman and make her the center, too.
Don’t buy into the stereotypes. Recognize yourself as worthy. Stereotypes are the shadow images of oppression. They freeze your potential, and castrate your creativity and imagination. Stereotypes such as women are too emotional to lead a business or a country, too physically weak to help with heavy labor, or lack the intelligence to be good engineers and scientists only serve to limit what is limitless – you. If you can’t do this for yourself, then start by doing it for another woman. Encourage her to dream the unimaginable and to go for it.
Avoid isolation – tether yourself to a sister. Oppression of the feminine has become such an insidious part of our identity that we have lost sight of how isolating it can be. Woman can suffer from a chronic sense of loneliness. It’s hard to be a “part of” when you are earning less for the same work, praying to predominantly masculine spiritual symbols and figures, surrounded by a violent culture that turns the rape and murder of women into entertainment, and you are dependent on a mental health industry originating from the work of Sigmund Freud who characterized his female patients as “hysterics.” Give yourself a moment of instant affinity, a spark in this unconscious darkness, by tethering yourself to a sister. Go to lunch, form a support group, and share your dreams. Let the magic you possess reflect back to you through her knowing eyes.
Create healthy boundaries and practice saying no. The move here is to take up space. Say no when you mean no and yes when you mean yes. The personal is political for women. That means make your voice heard no matter what your opinion – right, left, or middle – whether voting on a women’s health care issue like abortion, speaking up for equal pay at work, or simply telling your date where you would prefer to go to dinner. Boundaries are made by your active participation in drawing the line in the sand where you end and everything else begins. Help your sister to take up space, too, by valuing her voice and lines in the sand.
Stop attacking yourself and other women. The quickest way to destroy yourself is to attack yourself. What negative or limiting beliefs are you telling yourself? What you tell yourself creates your inner and outer reality. You are that powerful. What you think determines how you feel and ultimately, the actions you take in the world. One negative thought can lead to an out of control chocolate binge or the decision to sleep with a lover who treats you poorly. Check out Byron Katie’s “The Work” for a quick and easy method to disarm the inner critic who is keeping you down. Do the same when you are in the presence of other women. Go up, not down. Speak positively about yourself and others. Avoid indulging in pity parties where you are attacking yourself or others.
SEE other women. Take a moment to think about your life and the women you routinely encounter.
Women in your family
Women working in the businesses you shop in
Women delivering your mail
Women teaching your children
The next time you see these women, whether it is your best friend or the woman at the register at the grocery store, take a moment to stop and look into her eyes. SEE her. Ask her how she’s doing. Ask yourself: how could I make her life just a little better? Even the simple action of acknowledging a woman’s presence helps her step out of isolation and into sisterhood.
How will you help a woman today?
In psyche and spirit,
P.S. Be sure to join me and Danielle LaPorte live on our Desire Spreecast tomorrow.
P.S.S. And, I am just days away from the start of my new course, Feminosity. Join me and your sister’s, in your Heroine’s Journey and step into your highest impact, power, and purpose.