Many of us are fortunate to be surrounded by strong women, especially those of us that run amongst the wolf packs of transformation coaches, nutrition experts, estheticians, body workers, and other types of sages and healers. There is a collective light that draws us to each other. A light that shines on the path of new possibilities to create a life’s work based on meaning and service.
Few of us arrived here unscathed. We have escaped traumatic incidents. Courageously worked through perplexing health conditions. Defied advice and suffered the criticism of family and friends, because we chose to follow an inner voice that no one else in the world can hear. Bravely put our finances on the line in hope that betting on ourselves will pay off. Brought our children along with us on our hero’s journey, pausing only to nurse and nurture them and not ourselves. We each bear the scars of our sacrifices and the defined muscles of strength that have been earned. There would be no collective light if we hadn’t each spent time finding our way in the dark.
So why is it that many are supremely confident in empowering other women (with marketing messages that make this promise) yet are really uncomfortable when their clients show up feeling weak? The victim blamers are the worst. “Only you can make yourself a victim.” “You attracted this because that’s the frequency you’ve vibrating at.” This is not empowering. This only causes a woman (or anyone) to doubt themselves more. Self-doubt is psychological cancer. Telling a diligently introspective woman that her problems will only go away once she finds out the root cause of what’s wrong with her can waste years of her life. Telling a strong woman having a weak moment to “put her big girl panties on” will shame her into action, but at what cost? Adrenal fatigue…burnout…and a deep sense of loneliness at her core.
What strong women need…and all women are innately strong… is acceptance and respect for their vulnerability. If a strong women confides in you that she is feeling sad, scared, or overwhelmed to her breaking point, know that she has already wrestled with it. She has already tried to “cowgirl up” and “get over it.” You’re not bringing any new insights to her when you tell her those things. She’s already tried all that and more. If a strong woman confides difficult emotions to you it’s because she knows that she can’t keep those feelings inside any more. They are making her ill. She intuitively knows her emotions must be accepted and integrated. Trusting that you might accept the totality of her is often the first step towards accepting herself. Don’t fuck it up.
If you’re in the business of empowering women, do not push them straight to “strong.” Maybe you’re a bad-ass “lady boss” and that’s your coaching style. I get the branding. Yet how many women come to you, ready for a transformation, then disappear? You might think it’s because they weren’t ready, or not done “being a victim” and you might be dead wrong. There’s a time for tough love, yet if you’re missing the time for empathy, transformation will not occur.
Give a woman permission to air out her feelings without judgment and she will transform faster than from your best advice. Remember this: She can’t even hear your advice until her emotions have been voiced. You can’t pour fresh water into a full cup. Let her empty first. If you find yourself wanting to jump ahead into strategies and solutions, try the W.A.I.T. acronym. It stands for, “Why Am I Talking?” Let her talk. I know that the clock of your session is ticking by. You worry that her talking will take up all the time and you won’t have delivered the service. You’re concerned that all her talking will prevent her from dropping down into the deeper place that you know awaits her. Don’t rush it. Wait. Sometimes, being the sacred listener IS the service. You don’t need to remind her of the “bright side.” It’s completely useless and invalidating to do so. When she reintegrates herself, she will be in her power again. Then and only then can she take your advice in. This is how you support the well-being of a strong woman and she’ll always remember you for it.
Jaya Savannah - Chief Inspiration Officer. Strategy Coach for Holistic Businesses. Trainer, speaker, and writer. Spiritually aware, yet street smart. Elephant lover.