Recently I watched a hilarious episode of Inside Amy Schumer that had a bunch of highly educated women with PhD’s, standing up on the stage and alternating between apologizing for some pretty ridiculous things. It was a crazy-funny exaggeration of what women – myself included – do all the time, but also a sad reminder of the less-than-empowering socialization of females that still exists in this country.
Generations of women, whose only access to money was through their father and later their husband, have left us with remnants of programming directed at getting and keeping a prosperous man to marry. This training, however, does very little to validate females.
What are Girls Taught?
Socialization of girls starts at a very young age, as they begin getting messages about their role and place in the world, and how they should behave as people. This is generally good information, since it includes rules about not lying, stealing, committing murder, etc. But part of the mix is some gender specific expectations that can keep a woman from achieving her fullest potential.
Some of these unenlightened messages are:
- Your value is based on what you do for others.
- Your appearance is the most important thing you have. It’s necessary to look good, keep your weight down, and pay close attention to your grooming.
- It is absolutely imperative that others like you, so be sure to be “nice” and agreeable all the time.
- The person who makes the money in the household (or more money than the others) is the most important member, and they have the most power and status.
- As a wife, it’s your job to take care of your husband and the rest of the family, because this will bring you satisfaction and happiness.
How the Lessons Hurt Us
In the mind of a child, the above messages are often translated into very limiting unconscious beliefs that become almost hardwired into their thinking. Among these beliefs are the following:
- My needs aren’t important, and I am selfish if I ask for things.
- It doesn’t matter how accomplished I am if I am unattractive and or can’t control my weight.
- It is not okay for me to speak up, and no one wants to hear what I have to say.
- I am “less than.”
Based on these ideas, it would be pretty easy to conclude that you’re taking up space, not as important as your male partner, and that your life priority should be making sure his needs are met, instead of the two of you working as a team.
We talk a lot about how women make less money than men. In my practice, I hear complaints about this from my female clients all the time. However, when I ask them if they’ve actually asked for the fair and equal pay they deserve, I find out few have done this! I believe this is the result of the same self-deprecating programming that contributes to women staying in bad relationships, always doing way more than their share of housework, and not asking for things.
On a day-to-day basis, these outdated attitudes are played out as women apologize for taking too much time at the checkout line, or dipping into “household money” for something not completely practical. Then, of course, there are the infinite ways we take on more responsibility than we can handle comfortably…
Changing our Beliefs about Ourselves
Try substituting some of the following more positive ideas for those old, shameful lessons from your past:
- You have the right to be here, to take up space, and to consume.
- You are the equal of everyone else in the world (except for politicians…in this case, you’re actually superior).
- You have the right to speak up and ask for what you need, what you want, and even some things that might just be nice!
- You always have the right to say “no” to any request, and you don’t need to give a reason.
- You have the right to feel and be safe, and if you ever feel threatened, you have the right to make an incredible scene, and scream and yell for all the world to hear, even if it turns out you weren’t really in that much danger.
- You have the right to live a life very different from the one your parents had envisioned for you.
Remember that no matter what messages you were given as a child, you are very important to the world. As such, expect respectful treatment from others and equality under the law. Stop apologizing and start living with the dignity you deserve as a worthy, loving, and lovable person!
Oh, and one last thing—it’s absolutely okay to take the last cookie from the plate or tissue from the box…and not feel bad about it.
Healthy Habits Hypnosis
187 Calle Magdalena #209
Encinitas, CA 92024