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Are you giving your power away?

April 7, 2017

A friend and I were recently at a local market buying a couple of last minute ingredients for a dinner we were cooking together. (I find cooking together even more pleasurable than sharing a meal – a way to increase hygge). After checkout, we bumped into a woman my friend knows who happened to be in the last month of her pregnancy.

My friend introduced me as an experienced and knowledgable doula. This very nice woman half apologized, saying that she wanted a doula but her partner was against it. Thus, they weren’t hiring one.

Being who I am and sensing that this woman was open, I responded that I had no intention of convincing her of anything and asked, “Since you are the one giving birth, how is that for you?”

She answered that it was disappointing because she imagines how helpful that support could be but that her relationship was complicated and challenging enough. She didn’t want to rock the boat any further and the best she could do is to respect the desires of her partner.

My heart breaks a little to see smart, capable and kind women feeling the need to give over their power to keep the peace, people please and avoid confrontation.

In the same week, two other women came to me expressing fear of asking for what they want because it went against what someone else wanted for them, be it a careprovider, adult parent or partner. The fear of alienating or aggravating someone else was stronger than their own desires.

If these kinds of stories touch you, notice what arises:
How would you want to respond? What would you say or do?
Do you see something of yourself in these women?
Are there times when you give over your power to appease someone else or avoid confrontation? 

Giving power away seems to be common among women, especially around times of vulnerability such as impending motherhood.

Whether you learned early in life to give your power away or it is situational and relates to a specific relationship, it is most likely connected to the need to feel safe, accepted and loved. The female brain interprets threat to a relationship as a threat to survival. Women are more likely to have a stress reaction that is triggered more easily than the fight or flight response and has been identified as tend and befriend.

Through our connections with other people, we establish a sense of safety and protection.

I’ve devoted myself to learning and developing tools to help women like the one from the grocery store to live from their own truths while experiencing deeper relationships and staying connected to what’s important to them.

Being of help has little to do with trying to fix the situation or defending a point a view or stereotypical representations of angry feminism. It’s about opening the heart of compassion and understanding, bringing awareness and inquiry, then expanding our perspective to include new possibilities.

Without compassion for our own reactions, for the choices a woman is making, for the role of the person she is giving her power to, we can not come close to the truth or truly serve.

Compassion is an anchor that allows us to create the spaciousness in which consciousness and change is possible, regardless of the outcome. We gain perspective and see what is really possible. Our desires, motivations and good intentions become compasses.

There is usually a very good reason when someone seems to be giving their power away. It’s easy to judge or want to change the pattern right away. Most women can sense when someone has an agenda, wants to fix or change them. It usually makes the situation worse. The antidote starts with feeling truly seen and accepted.

How can you bring more compassion to yourself and others in situations where power is being given away?
What’s your anchor?
What motivations or good intentions are present?
How can you see the situation without making anyone wrong (including yourself)? 

I would love to hear from you whether you are someone who finds yourself giving your power away or if you are someone who supports other women and sees this pattern playing out. How was this helpful? How might you address a situation like the one that I described above?

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