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The Powers That Be - cont'd (WaOW 6B)

(continuing on from yesterday...)

The right to say no.
Many women I know feel great amounts of guilt each time they say the word, "No." Whether it is "No, I don't want to go on a date with you." Or "No, I can't stay an extra hour tonight." Or "No, I am not interested in another credit card." They feel trapped by questions and favours they cannot seem to refuse.

There are, of course, women who only ever say no. Their life is their life and heaven forbid anyone should ask for a corner of it. Rigid in their structures, they make you feel guilty for asking.

Some might see the ability to say, "No" as a fairly passive power (or perhaps, not even a form of power at all), but it is something I am increasingly awed by. As humans, we have the right to say, "No," without guilt - whether it is to a date, a work request, or a family member. As women, we are (I think) more often on the receiving ends of such requests than men are (or perhaps we simply tend to carry the weight of them differently?). But we are not powerless.

What would it look like if your life held a balance of "Yes's" and "No's"? If you felt free to make choices, not out of obligation, pity, or guilt, but out of freedom and desire? What if "No" was not a defense mechanism ("If I say yes to on more thing, I will fall to pieces!") but was a gracious way to establish the space that defines who you are?

The gift of knowledge (emotional intimacy).
I almost don't need to describe these extremes. You already know them - one is "The Ice Queen" who never lets anyone see past her veneer of smooth perfection and control. You don't have a clue what is going on internally or emotionally, because it is all facts and external realities from her.

And we've all met our share of women with a bad case of emotional diarrhea. The minutiae of their life are available for all to see and hear, and there are constant eruptions of interior woes and unnecessary oversharing.

The thing is, giving others knowledge about ourselves is a giving of power. We cannot control what they say or do or how they respond to our vulnerability. We also wield power here, because we shape how others view us by the details that we share (or withhold) about our interior lives. Although I am a firm believer in the importance of honesty and vulnerability, I also think we also need to check ourselves and our motives. Why am I compelled to share this story in this setting? Am I bypassing these details for the sake of my reputation? Does this person need, deserve, or want to be invited into this part of my life? Am I holding back out of fear? What would best serve the other person in this situation?

These are my thoughts.
They don't have conclusions.
But I am genuinely and earnestly interested in hearing others' perspectives - maybe one of you holds the key of knowledge that will help a whole piece of my life fall into place! (if only it were that easy.)

How do you ladies who are older and/or wiser than I am walk powerfully and humbly through life? 
Men, do you think at all about empowering women? What does that mean/look like in light of what I've shared?

I think this is the last post in the Women and Our Ways series. Unless you all send me suggestions of topics that urgently need addressing. But don't worry, I'll keep talking about being a woman (because I am one) and will share my strong opinions (because I have them) and will ask for your thoughts (because I want them).

I've really enjoyed this. It's had me thinking through a lot of life experiences (oh, the stories I could tell!) and re-establishing what it is I believe. And with each entry, I've had to apply my bold statements to my own life in real time...which is always humbling and never as easy as you'd think.  But good for me. So thanks for being a part of this and letting me ramble and sharing some of your own insights!


Keri H. said…
Wow, Beth. I am blown away at how much you are growing as a thinker and creator. Your pictures are looking more and more stellar - I can see marked improvement just in the little slide show. And your blog entries - let's just say that you are achieving excellence in your writing. And not only do you write extremely well, but you also make people think - and that is always a good thing.

I am so proud of you! Keep being awesome. :)

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