Being A Woman: No One Told Us What Empowerment Is About

Being truly herself is the most empowering, enriching and loving experience that a woman can have (we can add “a man” here too). And at the same time, it is something that we need to learn. It may sound strange to think about “learning to be yourself” because one is supposed to be oneself all the time, right? But because we are not fully aware of this, let´s step back and start from the beginning.

Should I learn to be myself? I believe, yes since we don´t live alone in this world. We live in a community with other human beings, we have a dependent existence (we need from others things that we cannot do or get by ourselves alone), and we relate to each other in layers that are, many times, profound and meaningful. We also share this existence with nature, living beings that are non-human and play a fundamental role in this world. Considering these basics, it´s not difficult to accept that the main reason of caution and carefulness on “being myself” is that what I do affect others, what I do has consequences, and can change lives (mine and others’ lives).

In this path of “being yourself” we often face many obstacles and challenges. Our beliefs are tested, our core exposed, we experience vulnerability, ignorance, certainty, doubt, love, fear, criticism, hate etc. On a sociopolitical level, we may be mad at a world that imposes on limits and prohibitions (especially for women); we fight to gain more freedom, we raise signs and share content on social media, we participate in protests and develop initiatives to gain more rights, more space, for women. And while we fight in the outer world, there is another battle that we need to fight in order to gain freedom. The inner battle: the fight for being yourself.

I believe that this freedom, I dare to say “true freedom”, has to be earned, not given. We earn the right to be fully ourselves when we learn to live without hurting others. That´s the condition of our freedom, the responsibility that freedom carries. If “being myself” implies that you hurt others with your short-tempered nature, your reactivity or ego, then you haven´t earned the freedom to be yourself and you are living creating chaos in your life (extreme case of this is ending up in a jail due to untamed violence). And if this is like that, then empowerment has a tight bond with freedom, and it´s an inner job too.

Violence and care are two faces of the same coin. Whenever there is violence, not only peace is needed, but firstly care. We apply care to zones in ourselves that are wild, even chaotic. Care is also a loving form of paying attention, of giving. We do this towards ourselves and we observe how we are, the things that we do without judgement, lovingly, and we educate ourselves by taming those areas that need more work than others (it all comes down to work on our reactivity here…). We learn to pay attention to ourselves by practicing mindfulness, by watching our thoughts and emotions passing by without engaging with them, noticing and recording the experiences we have during meditation in an environment of acceptance, knowing that there is nothing wrong, just things that need to be noticed and later on, changed or tamed, if necessary. This exercise brings self-development in many, many ways.

Women Empowerment and freedom go hand in hand. There is no way in which I can feel empowered if I don´t know that there are options available for me to respond to the world; if I don´t know that by educating myself and bringing out my own wisdom and intuition, I can do better in the same stressful circumstance; if I ignore that I am capable of doing for myself the things that I do for the ones I love (in other words, that I can love myself the same way I love others); if I never realize that by knowing and being responsible for myself, I am being truly free, truly me.

It´s the fire in my eyes, and the flash of my teeth, the swing in my waist, and the joy in my feet. I am a woman phenomenally.” Maya Angelou

Let the flower bloom!

Image: https://www.pinterest.cl/pin/492581277974846531/

You’re Good Enough, And Always Have Been

If you’ve ever struggled or still struggle with loving yourself, know that you are not alone. And more importantly, know that there’s nothing wrong with you for feeling this way. In a world full of pressures and expectations, it is easy to feel less than. It is easy to compare ourselves to others or seek perfection when it is not necessary (or healthy).

Learning To Open Up About Your Struggles

I wholeheartedly believe that it is important to be open and honest about your own struggles. Without communicating our struggles, fears, and negative thoughts, it’s nearly impossible to start on the road to a healthy mind. Whether this means talking to a friend, family member, therapist, or even a journal, it helps tremendously to release your emotions.

Let me start by opening up about my own personal struggles with perfection and never feeling good enough.

Throughout high school, I put a lot of pressure on myself to get spectacular grades. While it was fabulous that I wanted to get good grades, my approach was not healthy. Rather than being satisfied with my achievements, I would dwell on the smallest mistakes. If I missed one question on a test, I would see only that mistake, not the achievement. Spectacular was not even enough. In fact, perfection wasn’t even good enough–it was just “all right.”

When my high school years came to an end and I no longer stressed about grades, perfection slithered its way in differently. This time, I became obsessed with weight loss and health, never seeing myself as worthy of happiness if I didn’t achieve a certain weight or maintain a specific diet.

This struggle was with me from a young age; even when I was in middle school, I struggled with my weight and in high school I attempted diets, but ultimately made a lifestyle change. At first, I lost weight healthily but then I began to obsess over it. Weight and calories were always on my mind and thin was not enough–I had to keep losing more and more weight.

The peak of my eating disorder lasted the first semester of my freshman year of college, but the mindset took a long time to fade away. Throughout these struggles, I’ve realized that if you don’t love yourself, happiness is hard to come by.

Taking Care of Yourself, Every Day

After I began focusing more on loving myself, my mindset began to change. I replaced negative thoughts with positive thoughts, bad habits with good ones, and hatred with love. My whole mindset needed to change. It took a lot of time and work, but it paid off, and I work every day to be good to myself.

I want to repeat those last few words: I work every day to be good to myself.

Loving yourself isn’t something that happens over night. It also isn’t something that, once learned, can be thrown under the rug. We are constantly changing, so we need to constantly reevaluate our approach to self-love, and cater our efforts to the needs of the moment.

I want to remind you of a phrase that has helped me tremendously: You are good enough, right in this moment, and always have been.

I think we can easily spend too much time thinking about the person we want to become rather than the person we are right now. If we don’t work on loving ourselves in the moment, how can we expect to love ourselves in the future?

Of course, we can always improve and strive to be better people, but we don’t have to give up our happiness during this journey.

Self-love starts with this very moment.

Without caring for ourselves and communicating our struggles, fears, and negative thoughts, it’s nearly impossible to start on the road to a healthier mind.
If you want to read more by Jerry Ehlers, please visit his website Discovery Overflow.

Retour vers soi, une voie de la liberté.

Je suis curieuse de savoir comment les choses que nous connaissons aujourd’hui, seraient-elles si on ne nous les avait pas décrites à l’avance.. Je me demande que serait le monde, si chacun de nous avait la liberté de suivre sa propre voie, d’être ce qu’il est sans pression sociale ou jugement, est ce qu’on choisirait l’université, le travail, le mariage ?

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Can We Be Kind If We Are Not Being Self-compassionate?

There is one simple exercise which I like to do on workshops: I ask participants to write kind wishes for themselves and others from the group. In most of the cases what usually happens is that people forget to write wishes for themselves, or they “leave them behind”, until the end of exercise and then write something quickly as possible without much thinking.

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