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