How do we expand our vision of ourselves as women?

At our recent Woman Aware support group, we discussed how we can expand our vision of ourselves as women. Many of the messages we receive in society emphasize the role of women as being compassionate, kind, and unselfish. So, can this work simultaneously with being a strong woman? We are clear that there are many times in our lives and within society that demand that we are strong. So many challenges we face require many different skills and abilities and it is also up to us to ensure that our daughters (and all our children) are also armed with strength and skills to go into battle. None of us is exempt.

Principles of Strong Women

What does a strong woman look like? Here are some of the conclusions we reached at our meeting, but we are sure that you could add many more things to the list.

  • There is no identical pattern for a strong woman. We are not all alike, and we are not intended to be.

  • Being strong begins with self-awareness. Learning about ourselves not only teaches us about our potential skills and abilities but also our limitations and to have peace with those limitations.

  • As we develop our strengths, we need to maintain balance. Sometimes we can become too focused on one aspect of ourselves that we may miss out on other potential strengths that we will need later. Example? I may be a great family history expert and I may spend literally every spare moment on it, but I may not realize that I have great emotional resilience or that I am an excellent missionary.

  • What may be a strength for one person may not be for another. For example, one woman may be more comfortable socially in the company of a small number of people, even one person, whereas others enjoy being in large groups of people. Our desire to strengthen ourselves does not necessarily mean that we work to make everyone enjoy large groups of people. We are more about working within our “style” and building it as a strength. Note: This is different from staying closeted in our homes because we are afraid to speak to people at all.

  • We may make an assessment of a particular area and decide that we are happy with where we are even if there was significant area for “improvement.” We are not all going to put leaping out of a plane on our bucket list for the sake of it, even if this does require bravery. Our strengthening process is about prioritizing what is important to us and what resonates with us. We are discovering and creating our very best selves.

  • Developing our strengths may require shaking up our lives at times, getting out of our comfort zone and trying new things.

List of possible areas to be strengthened

We developed a list which was not necessarily comprehensive on what constitutes a strong woman in the areas of spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, and social development.

Being a strong woman physically

  • Being healthy

  • Healthy weight

  • Energetic

  • Eat/cook healthy foods

  • Work out regularly

  • Knowledgeable of human body/how to care for self and others e.g., first aid.

  • Love yourself; eat and act like you love yourself

  • Stretch, be more active

  • Learn new physical skills, try new sports or activities

  • Understand our physical limitations and be at peace with those limitations

  • Consistency about daily activity

  • Good sleep habits

  • Pampering self-e.g., massages

  • At the same time, don’t overindulge.

Being strong spiritually

  • Know how to listen to the spirit.

  • Trust in God.

  • Have a sense of self as being divine: know myself as a child of God

  • Have a sense of personal peace.

  • Having sincere prayer

  • Be thankful to God and to the people you meet each day

  • Read scriptures each day

  • Be kind

  • Search and study scriptures and other good resources on a regular basis

  • Serve in the temple regularly/do family history

  • Meditation

  • Wait when needed

  • Listen to the still small voice

  • Don’t let the loud voices or your feelings guide you; let God be your guide; peace

Being a strong woman socially

  • Focus less on myself

  • Be willing to “let people in”

  • Don’t pass up chances to be involved with others

  • Smile

  • Say hello, how are you? And wait for an answer.

  • Be friendly

  • Make/nurture meaningful relationships

  • Make time for social activities

  • Be accepting of others/non-judgmental.

  • Listen

  • Be kind

  • Serve others

  • Be available

  • Be present

  • Have fun

  • Go out of your comfort zone

Being a strong woman emotionally:

  • Boundaries

  • Outlets, ways to identify and process feelings, support

  • Grace

  • Willingness to feel and to let go

  • Vulnerability and sincerity

  • Learn how to sit in painful emotions

  • Sharing emotions with our “intimates”

  • Controlling emotions so not to hurt others yet expressing them anyway

  • Experiencing full range of emotions

  • Laugh and smile more

  • Be honest with myself-identify my emotions

  • Forgive and love myself

  • Feel, get through and let go of emotions.

Be strong intellectually/mentally:

  • Obtain highest education that you can

  • Have a good understanding of career goals and/or have a clear decision of what skills you want to use to bless the lives of those around them, in and/or outside the home.

  • Lifelong learning, new skills

  • Interests, hobbies

  • Read books, listen to podcasts

  • Converse and learn from others

  • Set goals

  • Be able to articulate ideas, thoughts, ideas clearly to others

  • Able to accept others’ opinions on subjects that oppose our beliefs without changing our own

  • Look at many alternative sources of information before making decisions.

  • Make home an intellectual center and refuge

  • Not to be so intellectual you forget about the heart of the subject when dealing with people

During the meeting we took a look at ourselves against each list and decided whether we were doing pretty well or that this was an area needing attention. We determined to go home and make goals to become stronger in our identified area.


Parenting to make our children strong

We finished with a quote:

“There is simply no way to wall off some isolated portion of the greater surrounding reality and make everything permanently predictable and safe within it. Some of what has been no-matter—how—carefully excluded will always sneak back in. A serpent, metaphorically speaking, will inevitably appear. Even the most assiduous of parents cannot fully protect their children, even if they lock them in the basement, safely away from drugs, alcohol, and internet porn. In that extreme case, the too-cautious, too-caring parent merely substitutes him or herself for the other terrible problems of life. This is the great Freudian Oedipal nightmare. It is far better to render Beings in your care competent than to protect them.
And even if it were possible to permanently banish everything threatening – everything dangerous (and, therefore, everything challenging and interesting) – that would mean only that another danger would emerge: that of permanent human infantilism and absolute uselessness. How could the nature of man ever reach its full potential without challenge and danger? How dull and contemptible would we become if there was no longer reason to pay attention? Maybe God thought his new creation would be able to handle the serpent and considered its presence the lesser of two evils. Question for parents: do you want to make your children safe, or strong?” - From “Twelve Rules for Life”, Jordan Peterson.

Marianne



Introducing Marianne, the fictitious woman created by the French to represent the French Revolution. A bust of her is in every official local authority and regional authority building as a reminder of the fight for “liberté; égalité et fraternité” (freedom, equality, and brotherhood). Next month: We will be discussing our personal missions. Do we have a mission? How do we prioritize it in the middle of all we do in our daily lives? Register at our events page.





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