"There are no prerequisites for worthiness." - Brené Brown
It is #womenshistorymonth in March and without knowing, I have gained many valuable insights not only about myself, but also about our womanhood, that has been ground-breaking to me and that I am still trying to digest.
It all started innocently with a few posts on Instagram that got my attention - the one that stood out for me was about women worrying how to come home safely, esp. at night. It was a simple phrase in a squared photo, but very powerful and resonant for me. Because it spoke to my experiences, to a fear known to many women for many years, to a way of life that we have come to see as normal - both by men and women. It not only responded to me emotionally, but also made me want to share this sentence for everyone to realize how it is to be a woman in today`s world, because it does make a difference whether you feel safe or not, even on the busiest and brightest streets. One horrendous example I had made was to go by myself to Bali - an experience that I would probably not repeat again so soon. Luckily nothing bad happened, but to be constantly stared at, approached, and commented on does create a different atmosphere of a vacation, that is not relaxing.
The next event was a Zoom break-out group with new faces, all women, to network within a community of writers (London Writers` Salon). One woman shared that her name in her local language can be both a male and female name. When she exchanges emails and people realize she is a woman after having assumed that she is a man, she immediately can tell the difference by how she is treated. It seems that when she is a "man", her requests are often quickly addressed and resolved (maybe also by women, so we may have to look at ourselves). But when people believe she is a woman, it takes ages, questions, and doubts to address her emails. A similar, but opposite reaction was confirmed by a man who was mistakenly taken as a woman and had to realize how people suddenly started to question him.
Of course, I don`t want to generalize, blame, or judge - but I do want to share real-life experiences and raise awareness on a normal life lived by a woman. Even though we may understand the paradigms, such as women being in a minority e.g. often in a male corporate environment, people still may not understand the emotional (and spiritual) impact of what it actually means to be in a woman in a patriarchal world.
The next realization I had was that I felt triggered by my colleagues in a professional context, who were in majority. I soon felt being put in a box, not understood (because it is difficult to connect out of a box (which I also learned happened because of my acceptance)), and quickly get into a feminist feisty mode to fight for our voices to be heard and for our place at the table. I was aware of my anger towards those men often in a professional setting, and wanted to explore this, wondering what implications this may have on my romantic life.
When my coach and I explored my romantic life, there is another dynamic - of being afraid to be hurt or rejected. Of doubting ourselves when he started to ghost you. Of looking for flaws in ourselves to be immaculate. Of building our sense of value on past and present experiences. And this is where it got really interesting:
I got into my feisty mode in a professional context because I was confident in my qualifications, skills, and experiences, and found it unfair that I was not given "a seat at the table". But in the romantic setting, I mostly had negative, hurtful experiences to draw from, which undermined my confidence, so the effect here was reverse - instead of being feisty and angry, I was, in a romantic context, sad and insecure. My coach said something really eye-opening - that while I was certain about my belonging in the corporate setting, I wasn`t feeling that belonging in the romantic environment.
What I, additionally, also realize that in both settings I draw my sense of worth depending on men`s reactions. At work, because men would put me into a box, I felt triggered. In romance, because men would not be interested, I felt triggered. Of course, I also had positive and grateful experiences. I mention those extreme cases as I was willing to look into my blind spots for my personal growth.
My coach and I also travelled back in time to explore my epxeriences with feelings of worthiness and belonging. Although it wasn`t new to me, but it was eye-opening for me to realize clearly that during my childhood and young adolescence, I barely had experiences where I felt truly accepted and loved. Of course, my parents have loved me - but the message I unconsciously received as a young child, who is unable to discern this, was that my value would definitely explode if I was also successful. So I established a very early link between my worth and (external) achievements. Moreoever, I was the unpopular nerd at high school, which meant that people didn`t want to be associated with a nerd. When I was hoping this would change at university, I was sad and disappointed that my college time wasn`t the best time in my life as everyone had promised. I got granted a scholarship to study at a private university - while I was thrilled for this opportunity, it also meant that I was an outsider among fellows who were used to already drive a Porsche or carry a Gucci bag. So even when I was myself, I didn`t feel accepted.
All of these realizations emerged in me - thanks to my coach, communities, and "cosmic inspirations" - just within a short timeframe, that I am quite stunned. I definitely have to let this simmer and sink in deep, but I am already deeply grateful for these insights, as I can feel a spiritual and soothing shift in me. I know that everything starts with us, so the more awareness I can gain about my own life, the more I can be in service for the rest of the world. From this day on, I want to commit to value myself for all that I am and be my own best friend that I have never had.
Love, from me to you,
How are you valuing yourself? Let me know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org – I very look forward to hearing from you! :) PS: Subscribe to my #mindfulmagic Newsletter to stay in touch for upcoming posts, free offers, and news :)
Inspiration: Christina von Dreien- Twins Born as Light
Reflection: How can I be my own best friend?
Intention: I value myself for all that I am.
Viet Linh Le is a female visionary, qualified coach with corporate experience, and multi-cultural founder of @vietnamwellbeing, with the mission to change our world by coaching the next-generation decision-makers. Find out more on www.vietlinhle.com