When grappling with knowing my self-worth as a woman and setting my own bar as opposed to obeying to someone else’s sliding scale of potential / success / pay, I have been led to these questions:
Where do I get my sources of validation? And do they value intellect and contribution, as opposed to physical attributes and money? And what’s the climate I’m marinating in?
My most scathing criticism and judgement came from other women, whilst I was working in a male dominated work environment. Who, for whatever reason, may have their own flavour of reduced self-worth from the way they were formed as girls growing up and as women in a finite career driven culture. Maybe they were trying too hard or they thought that was the way they were supposed to do it. Who knows, that’s a psychological conversation between them and their therapist, and not for me assume. I have also heard that swagger in women is generally rare and most often they question whether they are ready for the next promotional opportunity.
So how might you learn to be a better editor of your own life? A great place to start is with the book Necessary Dreams by Anna Fels. A striking reality of how and why women devalue ambition and shy away from recognition.
Which was a nice lead into the weekly prompt discussing single stories.
What do we assume about a person from a story about a group of people and what do they assume about us back? If we share all in the first meeting, that’s very vulnerable place to be and we might not want others to know some things about us just yet. We intentionally place the mask / filter / censor there to protect ourselves. And others might do the same.
Or do we impose that filter on others because it’s easier to assume a stereotype, instead of doing the hard work and emotional labour to get past the mask. And what do we take as gospel from public figures who may be only telling the single story about others? What assumptions do they make and for what purpose? How might that single story better leverage their point and prevent us from further questioning their rationale? Where are the plot holes and gaps? And do we fill them to fit our worldview and make our version right, or do we seek to find the right answer?
At the women’s networking, the speaker advocated Women’s Studies so that we have other stories to go on. Then I watching a programme on TV, Alison Hammond was discovering the Black History that is stitched into British History and has gone unrecognised. She met with a group of women who visit the grave of a prominent black nurse who pioneered a hospital during the Crimean War, and there is a memorial to her on the bank of the Themes. What struck me about this group of women was their age, 50 upwards. So where are their daughters, granddaughters, nieces and aunts? Where is the legacy to keep this annual pilgrimage alive?
If we were more intentional in our values and beliefs, and sought out other stories to define and explain our culture and discussed this openly, would there be a need to embark on a formal period of study? Particularly, when our time is such a scarce resource. How might we foster a place to hand down our stories and encourage the next generation to learn and appreciate the history and strive for better in the future?
Instead of making the decision to learn on purpose and the need to carve out the time and energy, which might create more problems than it solves and wonderful hiding places and rationale for not doing something, I believe in creating a more natural space for learning and curiosity, so that it becomes an instinctive and more unconscious competence or skill.
I utilised coaching to tackle my blockers around self worth and validation. Previously working in a larger organisation it was easy to accept and adhere to the definitions as per that organisation – “It’s the way it has always been and how we do things around here.”
Now I’m freelancing, I’ve not really established my own “Appraisal Policy”, so to speak. I’ve not set my bar or how and when I’ll raise it.
And to do the hard work of figuring out my metrics, going beyond monetary values, number of clients or books sold. Taking a more qualitative approach to measure the impact maybe ???
Also looking at the “who’s”.
Do you continually seek the validation of a person who’s never satisfied? Like a parent or friend. And maybe repeatedly returning to these people because they simply confirm your fears and you keep yourself from stretching and succeeding. They might even have their own fears and a single story they tell themselves and imprint on you, because they can’t even imagine another narrative is possible. They keep you timid because they think timid.
How might they feed and enable you to hide? And what’s the consequence of challenging them?
Who might be better placed to challenge you with more care and mentorship? Who can cheer you on or provide a leg up as you stretch for that next bar? Are they someone who is coaching you for your development and allowing the space for you to grow bold?
This is something I’ve asked myself as well, and I am also finding it hard to assign a measurement metric for it.
What if we replace “measure” with Chequered Flag?
What are your Chequered Flags?
“Today someone said (insert sentence), and it made me smile.”
“I was complimented for… and it made me super happy.”
“One of my clients told me they achieved…, and I felt really proud for them.”
“I spent less time doing… and more time doing… so that…”
The scathing criticism from the past might have left a scar on my self-worth. But, the joy brought about from the generous support and gratitude of others created a beautiful tattoo just beside it.
How might you incorporate a daily practice of gratitude and joy in the work you achieve?
Help Me Celebrate My 100th Blog!!!!
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Hi Abbie! I really appreciate your blog in my inbox–many thanks! 100–woot! Woot! Congratulations!
My question for you is…When life returns to meeting and greeting others in person…if you could have a face to face conversation with anybody on earth…who would it be…and why?