I’m about to share some ideas about self image that I think most women need to hear, including myself. I need to hear it over and over until it’s not something I know, but something I do.
But before I share, I want you to know that these ideas are not a reason to be hard on yourself. We only ever do the best we can and if for some reason your life has led you to a place where you experience the self-doubt described below by Paula Stone Williams – or if you have learned to communicate nonverbally in ways that don’t express “strong woman” – it’s not your fault. Your dynamite daughter needs these five skills, and so do you.
How women and girls are taught self-doubt
In the TedTalk by Paula Stone Williams, called “I’ve lived as a man and as a woman, here’s what I learned,” Paula shares a powerful story about how different her experience is as a woman, compared to when she was a man. As a man, she was given respect and trust off-hand. As a woman, she is second-guessed all the time. Most powerfully, she said, “When you are second-guessed all the time, you begin to doubt yourself.”
What woman hasn’t experienced this? An incessant drive to do everything just right, so that you can tell the people who question you that you are sure what you’ve created is correct. So that you won’t feel your self-worth somehow diminished if you are wrong. When did it become a problem to be wrong? Isn’t that how we grow?
I am determined to ask “Are you sure,” as she grows up as little as possible. Maybe that will help. But in the mean time, there are other things I can work on that will also make a powerful difference.
Nonverbal communication is our ticket out
I know my body language is reflective of this learned, unconscious self-doubt. And the scariest thing about this, for me, is that my daughter is going to learn how to move and operate as a woman in this world first from me. What will my body language teach her?
Enter, Sari Di la Mote. Sari is an expert at nonverbal communication, and happens to be most passionate about teaching nonverbal skills to lawyers.
If I was a lawyer, she would have all my money.
Since I can’t benefit from her courses as a lawyer, I’ve done all I can to learn from her through her blog and the free resources she offers. From Sari, I’m learning how to command space. How to own a room. How to show up in my full power.
While there are a lot of things she challenges her students to do, a handful rise to the top. Our dynamite daughters need these five skills, and so do we:
-allow our awareness to fill an entire space before a presentation.
-use open, inviting body language when appropriate, and closed off language for things that aren’t open to conversation.
-take notice of when your voice pulls up at the end of a sentence (evoking uncertainty in a listener), or down (evoking confidence from the listener).
-Influence a tense space by breathing deeply. Become the source of calm in the space.
-She asks you to notice the story you’re telling yourself about a person or situation, and notice how that story influences your body language.
We can set the example
I’ll admit that driven as I am, I could benefit from making it a daily habit to incorporate these lessons. Not just for work presentations, but to the point that it’s second nature to do these things. If not for myself, then for my daughter.
What about you? Do you find yourself in the same boat? You know you show up with your game face on, but your words and body language sometimes sabotage you.
Remember, I’m not sharing all this as another reason to be hard on yourself. All of your experiences have led you to becoming the wonderful, loving, smart human being that you are. This is something worth feeling good about, that we’re here and finally thinking about these things.
Let’s you and me pick one of the bullet points above to work on. Just one. And each morning, set the intent to live that lesson. For example, you might say, “Just for today, I will breathe deeply whenever I feel worried or people around me are tense.” One day at a time, whatever we choose to focus on will be the habit we start to live by. We will become our vision for our daughters.
I’m curious – what bullet point above resonates most with you? What non-verbal skill do you want to work on? Share in the comments below. May our loving energy inspire and lift each other up! go mama!