Women’s Day – A day filled with charge for both men and women and yet not many know what the day commemorates, never mind what the month is about!
On Women’s Day I was part of a group of 25 people who attended a Recovery Coaching training course and I was heartbroken when only a handful of people were able to say what Women’s Day really stands for. How is it that we do not remember that the day celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women. We are meant to acknowledge women’s success, and remind ourselves of inequities still to be redressed. When the group was reminded of this by the trainer, everyone nodded and we moved swiftly on to our Recovery Coaching training with nary a comment.
The funny thing is that on this day of commemorating women’s courage and strength we witnessed two ladies snapping at one another instead of being tolerant and loving and the altercation was unsettling and disruptive for the rest of the group.
As women we often don’t have the brotherhood and comraderie that men seem to easily develop, and I frequently hear that women struggle to trust each other. Yes, we may natter in the kitchen at parties and go to the bathroom together, but we often don’t stand shoulder to shoulder and support each other the way it is needed and many women feel alone, despite having friends. I’ve often wondered why this is, and I put it down to judgement.
Women tend to be so critical of themselves that it is easy to project this judgement onto other women. We judge ourselves as not being good enough / pretty enough / thin enough / clever enough / strong enough and so how on earth could other women be “enough”? The lack of trust between women often stems from being judgmental and feeling judged and often times some competitiveness creeps in to taint the potential of connection.
All we as women need is a simple way of seeing one another as fellow human beings with similar fears and struggles and the barrier’s to connection are broken down. I’ve experienced and witnessed a renewed respect, connection and understanding the minute women stop and see one another not as rivals, but as allies. The challenge is that we seldom take the time to connect this way and our masks of “I’m okay” and “everything is alright” are held on tight.
Because I do women’s work, I was invited to lead a connecting process with the women on the training as a way of easing the tension that had built up in the room following the altercation between the two women. I knew that all it takes for women to connect is for us to sit in a circle, see one another and be open and vulnerable. This however doesn’t come easy to ladies who have not done self development work and I was nervous that these ladies were a mixed bunch from different cultures, and social settings and few knew each other. I feared that things could backfire and turn ugly.
I chose a simple process where each woman in the circle is invited to sit on the “queen’s throne” – a chair higher or more comfy than the others in the circle. She is invited to connect with her inner queen as she sits on the chair and the other ladies are invited to share with each queen “what I see in you, that I also see in me is……”
The process opens the participants hearts to not only see the good in others, but also acknowledge that we carry the character trait that we admire within ourselves. As we progressed around the circle and each woman took her turn on the throne I had to remind ladies to stop and feel the comment or observation being made about them. I had ask for the statement to be repeated a couple of times, as women often dismiss compliments without hearing them in our hearts. The impact of having someone repeat a statement like “Josie-Ann what I see in you that I also see in myself is a woman who puts everyone else in her family first before herself” is gigantic. The heavy burden of having to care for everyone else and feeling guilty when taking time for self is shared. And when we share our burdens and see the real person behind the pretty hair and nice jewellery, we connect.
In retrospect I can look back on the process and say to myself “oh ye of little faith” because the connection between all women on the course was deep and limitless.
On women’s day, the ladies attending Module 3 of Recovery Coaching at The Foundation Clinic left the training feeling heard and seen, acknowledged and connected. The short, simple process broke the bad vibes and formed a loving bond between the women.
I learned that connecting across colour lines, culture, religion and age doesn’t have to be complicated. It just needs to start with the intention to connect.
I learned that the connection between women is currently complicated because we are complicated beings, but it doesn’t have to be that way. An opportunity to open up and connect with love is all it takes to align us as women.
I learned that people don’t have to have been on a long spiritual awakening path in order to participate in and grow from an impactful process.
I learned that women actually do see one another when we stop and look with our hearts instead of through our judgmental eyes. Many of the women did not know each other, yet the observations, intuition and insights coming through in “what I see in you” astounded me.
I learned that judgement gets in the way of human connection and is destructive to self as well as the community.
The invitation to all women across South Africa is to see one another as human beings, all with a need to belong, a desire to be loved, a want to have purpose and a yearning to feel needed and special. When we put down our masks and become real with one another then we can become real about how we stand together shoulder to shoulder as loving, nurturing, kind and supportive human beings.
Lets get real ladies and lets do it throughout the year, not only during women’s month.