In light of the events that have been circulating on TV and social media over the last several weeks and months, where women have been speaking up about sexual harassment and human rights, I have been deeply moved. I applaud the courage it took for these women to speak up. They joined together the power of their collective voices and are being heard around the world. I have felt strongly about women speaking up since my college days when the Women’s Liberation movement blossomed. We fought to move away from the traditional roles assigned to women – family and low-paid jobs. Now, in my counseling practice as well as my Aging with Heart, Wise Women and Eldering programs, I am again in touch with the women from the 1960s and 70s. I am surprised by the great number of those who have become silent at this stage of their lives. They say to themselves, “What’s the use? It won’t make any difference.”
My response to these thoughts is that you can and should make a difference each day of your life. Here are just a few of the questions I have asked women who have stepped away from their own voice and ultimately, their own power. I wonder if this is true for you.
How Would You Answer These Questions?
How many times have you avoided speaking up with your husbands, partners or friends because you don’t like or fear confrontation?
How many times do you avoid sharing your views on a topic because you fear what others might think of you?
Have you ever reflected on the messages you received as children, young women and now as aging women that inhibit the true expression of your strength and intelligence?
You would be surprised at how many aging women struggle with finding true authentic expression. The women’s movement has made strides in the past century. Now it seems that women are coming together again to collectively address issues of inequality, injustice, insignificance and diminishment.
Be a Part of the Change
As aging women, we can make a difference! It starts with you in your life, and it starts now – with being honest with yourself and about yourself. Here are a few thoughts that may help you connect with your power by speaking up.
Be Aware of Both Your Feelings and Your Thoughts
Feelings are physiological sensations communicating with your brain that something needs to be addressed. When you become aware of your feelings and needs, take action.
Don’t wait for someone to guess what you need. Don’t tell yourself that what you want is not important. Your needs are important, and you are the only one who can speak them.
Reflect on situations in your day, when you backed away from your feelings and didn’t say what you felt when you could have. Think about what you might do differently in the future. Challenge your fears about saying what you mean and meaning what you say.
Leave the Past Behind
You’ve heard this statement before, but I believe it’s an important one to remember: Stay in the present moment. It often happens that you may get triggered by experiences or messages from your past that were intended to silence you. Pay attention when you become reactive. What were the feelings that triggered your response? Usually, those messages were related to the withdrawal of love, which now shows up in your life as worry that others might judge, blame or minimize you.
Believe in Yourself
The biggest tragedy is reaching this amazing season of your life and staying silent. We have had many life experiences and hold wisdom that must be expressed to the people we care about, for the sake of the generations of women to come.
Think about it. It takes courage to step into the good, true and beautiful in you and speak it to the world. Be open to hearing others, and know that your voice, thoughts and feelings are equally important.
What are your challenges in standing in your power and speaking your voice? Have you been active before but mostly silent now? What do you think needs to change to bring your activist out into the world? Please share your thoughts and insights in the comments below.