"Women are still in emotional bondage as long as we need to worry that we might have to make a choice between being heard and being loved" M. Williamson
Marianne Williamson wrote a wonderful book called A Women's Worth that I read years ago. I remember so much of what she spoke about landing for me. I felt a big YES fill my body; I also felt a lot of rage pulse through me. I had not yet embodied the art of valuing myself.
To value oneself you must first know your worth.
Worth is a loaded word. Especially for women. Of course, everyone is worthy to be here, on this planet, simply because they were born and they breath. But we do not view worth through this lens. The pure nature of worthiness is clouded by historical experiences both from our past, and the past of our ancestors. And if we have not figured out our own worth, how can we begin to place value in who we are and what we do?
Many of us learned a long time ago that we had to fight to be worthy to be alive. We had to fight to be seen and acknowledged. We had to fight to belong. We had to fight to be heard. We had to fight for our 'place' in our family and in our community, need alone the world. There were expectations placed upon us, filtered through our family's belief systems, that 'trained' us how to 'be'. We were not allowed to find ourselves or be instinctive - we were told how to 'be'. These messages not only came through our family system, they filtered through the extended environment in which we were raised within.
Whatever the culture’s notion of worth was at that time informed our understanding of self-worth. Rarely were we given a chance to truly know our value, need alone our worth as a woman. However, if we prescribed by the cultural and family rules of that time, we were praised for obeying and thus, worthy to belong.
You can see how our notion of worth and worthiness gets tainted by external opinions and positions. And, let's not forget that it has often be risky, and at times deadly, for women push back against this collective opinion. To fight for her worth could have resulted in death or annihilation from community and family. This fear lives in our cells and thus, must not be overlooked.
Flash forward to modern time. Here we are 2018 and for the past few years the pulse is all about the rising of the feminine and feminine power. I even recall His Holiness the Dalai Lama stating that the wave of the feminine will heal the earth (something to that tune). Women are expected to rise up all over the world, and we/they are. It is beautiful to witness and be a part of this feminine revolution.
And yet, talking behind closed doors, many women of all races, cultures, classes continue to struggle with 'being worthy'. We are told to just speak out more, talk louder, fight back harder, gather in groups, pray more, dance more etc. It is as if there is a direct correlation between doing these things and discovering our worth.
The mere fact that we use the words 'discover your worth' is problematic. If it is inherent, then why do we need to discover it. And what do we mean by the notion of 'tapping into your worth'? Is worth a fountain of gold?
What happens when we do KNOW our worth?
For many knowing your worth gives rise to an inner power source; it inspires action! It is often not without fears, those don't vanish. But it turns into a well of inspiration that fills the inner landscape with rich fertile soil to begin to tend to and plant seeds. We can imagine all of the different seeds that come to fruition in this process and some, don't thrive.
But we can decipher between the 'seed' (idea or creation) not thriving versus the well running dry. In plane language, our worth is not dependent on the success of our creations. Some come to fruition some get composted. It is all coming from an inspired place of knowing one's worth.
So how do we show up for our knowing, how do we value our worth?
If we are not accustomed to valuing our worth, it is hard to place value on all that we do. Western culture places tons of value on monetary exchanges and growth. Thus, we have all been imprinted by this notion - more money = more value. Thus, if culturally we measure our worth based upon monetary value, then we are trapped in a sick cycle. The cycle that feeds the mindset that you need to charge more, to show more value, because you are worth it.
This is particularly problematic amongst women because women did not have 'earning potential' in the past. Only recently have women be cast into that category. Prior to that 'women's work' was domestic. And domestic work is not valued with monetary gains, and therefore, quickly gets devalued within the consumerist cultures worldview. Which brings up another point, for another blog, which has to do with motherhood being devalued and meaningless.
Going back to the question 'how do we value our worth', I can't help but think about the word boundaries. When we value our worth as women, we begin to recognize our boundaries or as one my colleagues said: borders.
I remember when I was deeply in my wounded self, I would let anyone enter in to my inner space and I had no boundaries. My need to be loved was so strong that I would become whatever I needed to become to be loved and fit in. I didn't know my borders, nor did I know how precious my interior world was/is. I was lost in my own inner landscape and I was letting all kinds of people trespass, which wreaked havoc within.
This act left me powerless and totally fractured.
The more time I spent with my interior self, the more I began to value what she had experienced and has to offer. I learned how to close the drawbridge to trespassers; people who could not reciprocate or demonstrate value for my vast interior world (a.k.a., authentic self). Only I could value this landscape and life. I learned how to value my time; my experiences; my stories; my creativity; my offerings; my family lineage; and my worth.
And yet, here I am amongst many other women who have learned how to value their worth and know their borders, and we still struggle to put a 'price' tag on what we 'do'. There needs to be an exchange, this is clear. But when so many have lived from an impoverished place it is challenging to imagine receiving in exchange for giving. Generally speaking, women tend to give way more than they receive. There is a comfort in giving; it is almost expected. But receiving is another story. This poses the question: Is there a collective core belief that it is wrong to receive or that one is not worthy of receiving?
As I bring this contemplative post to a close I invite you to consider the both the notion of value and worth. How do you value your worth? What are you currently struggling with in regard to value and worth? Do you know that you are inherently worthy? What did your family of origin teach you are worth? I know I left a lot of questions open for contemplation and I have only skimmed the surface of this deep concept. However, I do hope that it woke something up and started to create a stirring within.