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April 09, 2012

The Ties That Bind Us

IStock_00fakesmilemallIn my work with women throughout the years, I’ve found many beliefs that keep women down.  Some of these beliefs have come from our up-bringing, some have come from our culture and some have come from our own internal processes.  Until women begin to look at these beliefs and truly challenge them, we will likely continue to struggle in far too many relationships in our lives.

Below are the five most common beliefs that I believe wreak havoc in the lives of women today:
1.    Women need to be nice.  From birth, women are constantly told to be “nice.”  We’re told to not hurt anyone’s feelings, put a smile on, make people comfortable, etc.  The problem with this message is that “nice” ends up meaning to sacrifice one’s self for the greater good of everyone else.  Sacrificing ourselves so others feel okay is a crazy notion that is hurting women and our culture at large.  Until women learn to stand up for ourselves, we are destined to pay a heavy price.
2.    Women need a man to feel worthy/okay/complete.  From a young age, the pressure on females to have a boyfriend and, later, a husband is enormous.  For some reason, our world leads us to believe that the attention of males in some way legitimizes the worthiness of females.  This is crazy and dangerous thinking that sets young girls and women up to be abused and taken advantage of in relationships.  Until females are taught to believe in themselves in their own right, we will continue to have far too many crimes against women.  A man does not complete a woman.  She was already complete long before the man came along.  A man (if he’s a good man) simply adds to her life and vice-a-versa.

3.    It’s better to lie than hurt someone’s feelings with the truth.  Far too many women are dishonest under the guise of being “nice.”  We lie, sugar-coat the truth, deny we’re upset and pretend things are okay.  Lying is not “nice.”  It is not being a friend to deny being angry to someone’s face only to turn around and resent them behind their back.  Learning to tell the truth with compassion is one of the single most life-altering skills a woman can learn.  Authenticity, with compassion, is powerful, intimate and incredibly respectful of both the other person and yourself. Relationships cannot be healthy without honesty.
4.    It’s better to say/do nothing if the person won’t change anyway.  This is one of the most detrimental beliefs women have.  Too many women refuse to set limits, discuss upsets or even mention their unhappiness if they believe the other person won’t change anyway.  Some believe they’ve already tried and it didn’t work so why try again.  Others believe they have no power so why say anything.  Women will benefit by understanding that speaking up when they’re upset is not about changing the other person.  Speaking up is about telling yourself and others that you are worthy of speaking up for.  It’s about having your own back, because if you don’t no one else will, either.
5.    The status quo is better than risking upset.  Women often allow fear to keep them stuck.  They worry that if they’re honest, the other person will become angry, fall apart or -- worst of all -- leave.  Few women are willing to take this risk and consequently, end up settling for conditions no one should ever settle for.  By refusing to take the risk of speaking up or setting a limit, women seal their fate.

It’s time women look at these old messages and truly begin to question them.  Until we, as women, know that we have inherent worth in our own right, we will forever continue to sacrifice ourselves for everyone around us.  Our world will greatly benefit when women are able to respectfully speak up for ourselves, own our truth and protect ourselves as much as we protect those around us. 

Challenge: Read through the beliefs above and see if any are holding you back in your life and relationships.  Make the decision today to challenge these beliefs and to begin to step into the world differently.


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Lisa, thanks for reminding us of the pitfalls to living authentically. When we embrace limiting beliefs about speaking our truth, playing nice and being fearful, we ultimately give away our power to others.

Thank you for validating this and giving me the strength and encouragement to take the necessary, but very painful steps I knew I ultimately would have to take to be true to myself and those around me and work toward finding happiness and making peace with myself, my decision and my life.

Dear Karen: You are very welcome!

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