Women and Their Power
I’ve been asked: Why a second book on women and resilience? The answer is simple, some things have changed in the last nineteen years and others haven’t. I’m concerned that even with all the gains that women have made that there is one that they have yet to embrace: the conscious use of their resilience to make their life easier. My mission is to help women consciously use their strengths and resilience to feel more in control, more fulfilled, and even happier.
This said, I wrote a second book with more concrete strategies for women of all ages from adolescent girls to women in post menopause (I do address coming into your own sexually as you age). Consciously using their power is a goal I urge all women to embrace.
The definition of resilience hasn’t changed. Resilience still is those strengths and skills we develop when we are faced with hardship, when we find ourselves dealing with adversity, when we face those challenges that we wish we never had to experience.
These are the behaviors, the awareness, the insight, the inner capacities that we develop that help get us through these hard times. And the good news is that developing these inner muscles can enhance how we feel about ourselves. We create a new sense of who we are, one that may even impress us about what we are capable of achieving. As seen in the statement we sometimes hear: If I can do this I can do anything! The trick of developing conscious resilience is to acknowledge to ourselves the skills we have developed, and to know that once we develop these skills, we can use them again.
But it remains problematic for women to do this. Women (and men) are powerfully influenced by our culture. We have so many messages that women are many wonderful things: caring, beautiful, motherly; but being strong, and knowing it, and using it, unfortunately, isn’t one of them. And men have their version of this as well. Men aren’t supposed to be vulnerable, even though women say they want this characteristic in men. So for a woman to be strong and know it or for a man to have feelings and show it, makes them stand outside this subtle cultural norm.
Our personal power is the result that comes from our consciously developing our resilience. So many times women are not in touch with their power, they get through, but they don’t allow themselves to understand that they have mastered a difficult, even a very difficult situation, and they have survived, and perhaps even thrived. And that is what they have learned by going through this challenge, they can use their resilience knowingly, the next time they are faced with a test, allowing themselves to feel more confident as they purposefully apply what they have learned works for them. Intentionally handling a rough situation in a way that will work for you: now that’s power.
Girly Thoughts = ANTI-RESILIENCE
But for a woman to do this she must overcome her girly thoughts. These are societally driven messages that tend to blame women for the unfairness that they encounter due to their not being pretty enough, thin enough, young enough, etc. And women are not even aware that they internalize these messages. As a result, they unconsciously judge their self-worth according to how close they come to these ideals and feel crappy about how they look if they don’t measure up due to their hair, how tight their pants are or a new wrinkle or zit, in essence sabotaging themselves and losing their sense of power as they go through their day.
Girly thoughts represent anti-resilience. Girly thoughts sap women of their power, turning them into people who outwardly may look powerful, accomplished and having it all together and yet inwardly making them feel as if they are a mess. Resilience is the way out.
Owning our resilience allows us to begin to define ourselves, to derive satisfaction and fulfillment based upon how we see ourselves, and to no longer be held hostage by how society (others) may see, or evaluate us.
Seven Steps to Personal Power
This is why women need to follow the 7 Steps to Personal Power—one for every day of the week…
Step One—Make Your Crises Meaningful: Choose to Develop Conscious Resilience
Step Two—Uncover Your Hidden Resilient Voice: Use Your Own Wisdom to Determine What Is Right for You
Step Three—Create Helpful Boundaries: Take Charge and Stop Setting Yourself Up
Step Four—Protect Your Heart: Love Resiliently
Step Five—Become Strong in the Hurt Places: Heal Your Wounded Self
Step Six—Think Positively: It’s the Best Revenge
Step Seven—Develop Gratitude for Who You Are and What You Have Learned
What does a women risk if she isn’t in touch with her resilience?
If a woman is not in touch with her strengths, if she isn’t using this vital part of who she is to inform her decision-making, including her decision to take care of herself, she is probably not in touch with other parts of who she is, for example, her feelings, and her own needs. It is difficult to stuff your strengths and not to be also stuffing other parts of who you are. When women are not in touch with their strengths they are silencing themselves, clearly not how a woman wants to see herself, but it is how she is treating herself when she doesn’t integrate her strengths, her resilience, with the rest of who she is.
Patricia O’Gorman’s book The Resilient Woman: Mastering the Seven Steps to Personal Power expands on the concepts presented in this article.
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