Image by Beyond Timelines
There is no wholly masculine man,
no purely feminine woman.
Society desperately needs the tempering and respectful energy of feminine strength. School shootings break our hearts, stories of abused women and children haunt our dreams, and elitist disregard for the feelings and rights of the vulnerable leave us seething. With good reason, our hearts are aching to make things better. Since our empathy and fury run so deeply, what keeps us from acknowledging and acting from our unique strengths? Why are we hesitant to use our gentle yet forceful power?
Two reasons: Conditioning and fear.
The heart of the matter is that women have been conditioned to play small and downplay their strength and wisdom in order to protect the status quo of male domination. We have been trained to hide our light and been curtailed by laws and customs. No more!
The Chinese proverb “When sleeping women wake, mountains move” is being affirmed by societal shifts throughout the world. We are awake and deeply aware that our strength, wisdom, and compassion are needed. For our world to survive—for Earth to remain a beautiful, bounteous, and healthy environment—and people to live happy, productive, and cooperative lives, feminine energy must be acknowledged, honored, and empowered individually and globally.
Awareness is like the sun. When it shines
on things, they are transformed.
—THICH NHAT HANH
Awareness is the key to strength. In fact, it’s the key to just about everything that gives life zing and meaning. Awareness brings us into the here and now, allowing us to savor and participate wholly in this moment, the only moment we are truly alive.
Outer awareness is a wonderful way to stay in the present moment. Being aware of our surroundings prompts appreciation for the beauty and majesty around us. Awareness helps us tune in to the people crossing our paths who enhance our lives or—in some cases—offer excellent growth opportunities. Nuanced awareness lends itself to mindfulness and gratitude practice. Noticing what is happening, in any given moment, grounds and centers us in the here and now.
Inner awareness provides the same benefits as outer awareness while adding pizazz and depth (as well as dismay and chagrin on occasion). Since you are an audience of one for what is dancing or drudging in the theater of your mind, inner awareness is a never-ending source of private amusement. Well, let’s put it this way, inner awareness better be a source of amusement because interior insights and discoveries run the gamut from shiny gold encrusted nuggets of wisdom to actions and attitudes suitable only for the nearest cesspool.
Awareness is the first step toward inner and outer change.
Attitude affects everything. It colors every feeling, experience, chore, triumph, thought, creation, and relationship—especially the one with yourself. Attitude is like an omnipresent dye, tinting or tainting each thread in the fabric of your being.
Awareness is an early warning signal alerting you to the need for a change in attitude. Unless afflicted with mental illness or a brain- chemical imbalance, we are the creators and guardians of our attitudes and, therefore, can change them when appropriate.
I’ve found that elevating my attitude is the epitome of self-compassion and also positively affects how strong and competent I feel. If my attitude has curdled, I don’t feel like being compassionate to anyone, especially me. When my compassion quotient is low, I see myself as a “bad” person, which, in turn, makes me feel weak and ineffectual. So, the best thing I can do for myself is to become aware of my underlying attitude.
For instance, not that long ago, I succumbed to heavy resistance to several personal and public circumstances beyond my control. As often happens when I’m writing a new book, I became my own bad example. My attitude soured and scraped bottom and, instead of being self-compassionate, I berated myself for being an ingrate.
That attitude persisted for longer than I care to remember, but eventually I calmed down enough to do the internal work necessary. The underlying beliefs causing my rock-bottom attitude were twofold. I felt powerless and victimized.
With that awareness, I began to hoist myself out of the hole by being diligent in changing my thoughts, but most importantly, treating myself kindly. I found my subpersonality who carried the majority of the powerless victimized feelings and loved and accepted—in lieu of shaming—her back to balance and strength. I also concentrated on what I could do, educating myself and making changes wherever possible.
The help of many caring people supported and blessed me as I grappled with these feelings. As you’ve probably guessed, this is a condensed version of the process because elevating attitude and restoring self-compassion usually take time and patience.
During your day . . .
-: Be aware of your attitude, lightening and elevating it as soon as possible.
-: If your attitude loses altitude, gently uncover the underlying beliefs causing its spiral.
-: Know you deserve, and thrive on, self- compassion no matter how you feel.
Enduring strength is protected by an attitude of
self-compassion and kindness.
Playing Your Part To The Hilt
Have you ever felt “All the world’s a stage,” as Shakespeare said, yet you were only cast in bit parts? There are those who think it is their job to be the director of your life and decide what parts you’ll play and what parts are forbidden, but they’re wrong.
You are author, director, producer, and player of your life story. Those who ask you to dim your light because it hurts their eyes need to wear sunglasses, and those who want you to stay out of the spotlight need to learn to share.
While entities such as the patriarchy want us to stay small, our souls have hopes and dreams for us that include learning and growing by playing our roles to the hilt. As souls incarnated in female bodies, women are being called to bring heart- and relationship-centered feminine qualities front and center.
Many women who have decided to stop playing small—or never felt the need to—are embodying the energy of love, inclusion, and wisdom as they take their rightful places beside others in the spotlight. For the good of the entire world, center stage is being balanced with a more feminine presence.
Please know I’m not talking about us becoming divas and taking over the world burlesque fashion. By taking center stage and being in the spotlight, I am referring to us enhancing our lives and society by speaking our truth, acting authentically, and sharing our wisdom privately and publicly.
I hope you are among the many women who naturally play their part to the hilt, as family lore says I did as a little girl. I only vaguely remember that me. After the birth of my sister when I was seven, I mostly recall feeling the need to play small, a feeling that persisted well into adulthood.
Let’s meet your child self: gently close your eyes and notice your breath for a minute. Allow an image of you as a little girl to float into your mind’s eye. In whatever way feels right to you, get better acquainted with her. Does she have permission to be herself, to speak up, and be what she feels is right even if others disagree? If not, can you give her permission to play her part to the hilt now and throughout the rest of your shared life?
During your day . . .
ɳ Stay in touch with your inner little girl. Over time, you will probably have much wisdom and love to share.
Take center stage and play your life’s parts with
awareness, amusement, and abandon.
Being One Who Sees
Women see a lot and are aware of even more. Our diffused and embracing energy makes us visual and emotional stimuli-sponges. We naturally scan, register, or simply notice a wide range of important and superfluous stuff.
Absorbing and imprinting information and emotion, even when casually observed, make us great mothers, friends, lovers, and Jacquelines of many trades. Equally true, that same quality can wear you out. Exhaust you. Create an anxiety-ridden hag out of you. I know, because I recently exited that particular fun house. Due to a collision of uncontrollable circumstances and over-the-top sensory stimulation, I became discouraged and overwhelmed and, as a result, descended into a mindset of awfulizing. Unfortunately, awfulizing does just that—it makes things more awful.
Luckily, I have a wise chosen-sister-friend, Juju, who helped me remember what I know. And that is, choosing to focus only on what is good for me will neutralize awfulizing and bring me back into balance and harmony. Juju said, “I focus on healing, on what’s right in my awareness now, not on what is wrong with the world.”
With Juju’s reminder, I began to alter my focus. First, I minimized the physical discomfort as much as I could by getting noise-canceling earphones and heavy-duty earplugs. Next, I concentrated on becoming one who sees as Rumi poetically said, “Everything that is made beautiful and fair and lovely is made for the eye of one who sees.”
The more vividly we see something—whether attitude or object—the more likely we are to get it, both positive and negative. The Universe isn’t picky about what it provides; it logically orders up whatever we obsess about. The more you see, concentrate on, think about, and visualize either woe-is-me, or yay-for-me, the more you magnetize similar energy to you.
You are the author of your awareness. As you notice, so you live.
During your day . . .
-: Take care of physical needs.
-: Sleep and rest enough. Overwhelm happens easily when you’re underslept.
-: Concentrate on the beautiful, fair, and lovely.
Energy flows where attention goes.
©2019 by Sue Patton Thoele. All Rights Reserved.
Excerpted with permission. Publisher: Conari Press,
an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
Strength: Meditations for Wisdom, Balance & Power
by Sue Patton Thoele
Strength is a wise and profound book that helps women deal with both the large and small bumps in the road of life. Here are over 125 meditations, stories, and musings on becoming stronger, happier, healthier, and more bodacious. Strength can be read cover to cover or more casually by choosing topics from the table of contents. Topics include: facing fear, embracing your inner Brunehilde, mirroring Jesus and Rosa Parks, sharing wisely, and knowing you're good enough is no longer enough. (Also available in Kindle format, as an Audiobook, or Audio CD.)
About the Author
Sue Patton Thoele is a licensed psychotherapist and the author of numerous books, including The Woman's Book of Courage and The Woman's Book of Soul. She lives with her husband Gene near their extended family. Visit Author's Website.
Interview with Sue Patton Thoele on Feminine Strength: