It’s not your fault…or mine.

Life flows tidally.
It seems we’re always navigating
incoming or outgoing waves of change.

Tracie Nichols

In my just-before-sleep reading these past few nights, I’ve been settling my roots into the paradigm-shifting goodness that is Sharon Blackie’s book If Women Rose Rooted.  It’s one of those books, you know? Where one reading only scratches the surface.

Anyway, while she makes many quote-worthy points in her 1st chapter, she brought me to a thoughtful stop with this:

“…the stories that we tell ourselves about the world and our place in it, and the stories that are told to us by others about the world and our place in it, shape not just our own lives, but the world around us. The cultural narrative is the culture.”

Sharon Blackie

The stories we are told, plus the stories we tell, become the culture we live in.

Considering the sometimes uneasy, sometimes downright poisonous effect on women of the culture in which we live, is it any wonder that we hesitate to become leaders? Or that we distrust our innovative ideas, our paradigm-shifting insights, the very words we use to describe our lives and dreams?

Words are building blocks. They are the connective tissue of communication. They’ve also been perverted into weapons used to eviscerate the confidence and power of women (and many other groups) for at least two millennia.

…the fundamental message of the sacred texts of the world’s largest religious grouping, which for 2000 years have supplied the foundational beliefs of our Western culture, is that men should not trust women, and that women should trust neither themselves nor each other.

Sharon Blackie

Think about that. For at least 2000 years women have been told stories that taught us not to trust ourselves or each other.

These lies wove themselves so tightly in the fabric of our culture they became twisted truths we continued telling ourselves and other women.

We (almost) lost our magic

For centuries, this stopped women from telling themselves and each other stories about how magical, powerful, creative, and potent we are.

With this as the cultural background noise of my life since childhood, I told myself stories about being too broken, too different, too weird. I specialize in either/or stories, so I cut myself off from part of myself. Either I’m a business coach or I’m an aromatherapist. Either I’m a Mother or I’m a Crone. Either I’m fat or I’m healthy. I’ve heard other women tell similar stories about themselves. And, sadly, I’ve had women tell me these stories about myself. 

That, to me, it one of the deepest griefs of all of this. That we – I – have been, even if unconsciously, complicit in this endless debasement and re-wounding of other women. Because it’s the cultural water we swim in. 

As my wise feminist coach friend Jen Pavich says, “The lie that we’re buying here is that if we can just learn to hate ourselves enough, we can force ourselves into being what the world expects of us.”

Breaking the lie

We break the power of the lies we’ve been told when we take a risk and entrust our stories—even unfinished, disjointed and unpolished—to other women.

When we do, it creates more than a sense of relief at having finally spoken. We have finally been witnessed by another woman who knows intimately what it feels like to live under the weight of this culture. That opens a door to a budding sense of belonging. It sparks us to begin envisioning new stories. 

In her book, Blackie notes it’s important to find the cultural stories from our past that tell us of empowered women. It’s equally important to discover and claim new stories that will catalyze growth, change, and forward momentum.

Discovering and claiming our new stories is really the key. When we tell our new stories we are literally shaping possibility. We are creating our culture and laying the foundation for other women to discover and speak their new stories. 

To take things a step deeper, when we share our new stories by speaking them aloud we weave the creative power of sound & vibration with language’s ability to conjure, shape, and enliven the thoughts moving in our hearts and bodies.

So, here’s my invitation to you:

Become aware of the stories you’re telling…
… to yourself.
… about yourself to others.
… about other women.

What do you notice?
Is the myth of mistrust taking up space?
Is it driving your narrative?
What is the new story you can tell?

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