The Importance of Enduring Discomfort for the Sake of Transformation
Our “No” moments can define who we are, what we value and what we envision. One of the most profound things a woman can do is to learn to say NO in an empowered way.
Your “No” is a sword that cuts away the non-essential so that you can live the fullest life.
A powerful point on our journey is when we feel fed up and that we’ve had enough. This place of feeling into a non-negotiable is a potent place for change. It can happen for a number of reasons, usually in response to something we’ve been tolerating that we simply can’t tolerate any longer. It could be an emotional NO or a simple mandate from the body that something cannot continue.
We live at a time where we are straddling two paradigms: an old paradigm of struggle and competition and a new paradigm of abundance and cooperation. All our small, daily actions have powerful ripple effects in the culture.
I’ve recently been introduced to the incredible work of Dr. Mario Martinez, a clinical neuropsychologist and the author of The Mind Body Code. He states that there are two parts to setting boundaries: the first part is to set the limit and the second part is to give people permission to not like it.
Are you willing to give people permission to not like your boundaries?
This can be a hard one for us as women. We’re largely conditioned to please and acquiesce. To be OK with being disliked is one of the most under-utilized of our powers.
The deeper we go into our own journey, the more we access our unique power to articulate something original and necessary in the world.
We can expect to be uncomfortable as we venture into new territory–places our friends or family may never have gone before.
Much of our ability to succeed and to create the world we want directly hinges upon our ability to endure the discomfort of being misunderstood and disliked as we evolve and grow on our path.
Dr. Martinez states that to go beyond our “ceilings of abundance” we must be able to endure the “turbulence at the horizons,” those points where no one in our family or tribe has gone before, the places where are pioneers. He says we must allow our worthiness to expand to accommodate a new narrative beyond what we previously thought was possible. If we do not expand the narrative, we risk going back to the old ways, the old patterns, the toxic relationships, just to break that tension.
I see this all the time with women who struggle with the Mother Wound. The shame that they experience keeps them locked in a perpetual cycle of guilt and self-blame for wanting to go beyond the patterns set forth by their mothers.
The truth is that to innovate, to lead, to be visible and own your voice, you WILL disappoint some people. Some people will feel betrayed or abandoned by you as you increasingly embrace your path and purpose.
One of THE most common patterns women tell me about is the following: their mothers are loving to them when they are struggling but distant and critical during the times that they are doing very well. The mother’s subtle rejection when they are thriving keeps women back from their greatness because it can symbolize loss of love, safety or belonging which are our most basic human needs. (This is what Martinez calls “tribal shame” for going beyond the pale.)
To keep going even in the face of being misperceived, misunderstood or even ridiculed, (particularly by our own mothers) we must assume a NEW narrative from which we find a deeper source of integrity than what was modeled by our family of origin and culture. By sourcing our self-regard from that deeper source of integrity, we can endure the tension that comes with pioneering beyond the horizon of our lineage.
To affirm ourselves in the face of tribal shame from our mothers is a major challenge and yet it can be overcome. It’s a rite of passage for women at this time of planetary transformation. Support is essential.
So how do we allow our “worthiness to expand” in ways that liberates us to innovate, to offer our gifts, to lead and inspire? That liberates us to say an unapologetic NO when needed?
I believe it comes from a willingness to consciously own our value and fill the “mother gap” by mothering ourselves in a way that celebrates our exceptionalness, rather than shames us for it.
This can feel very dangerous--to admit to ourselves the ways that we truly are extraordinary and be willing to own that in the way we talk, live, move, carry ourselves, go about our daily life. We don’t have many models for this. We create it as we go and in doing so we gradually create a new normal. But until it truly becomes a new normal we must endure that tension. This is what cultural transformation looks like at the level of the individual. It’s SUCH important work.
The truth is that owning your value is not frivolous or flattery. It’s fact.
It feels dangerous because traditionally women have been valued in direct proportion to the ways they’ve DE-VALUED themselves. That’s where we’ve received the most validation—by how we’ve been willing to invalidate ourselves. Whether it was through giving away our power, saying Yes when we mean No, or simply accepting less than what we truly wanted and deserved.
To mothers who have espoused this view by willingly devaluing themselves throughout their lives, a daughter in the new paradigm represents a direct affront to the very foundation of their identities. The new narrative that you embody may feel simply too threatening for her worldview to accommodate and she may unconsciously attack you or withdraw. Ultimately, it’s not personal at all, but it can feel so very personal and challenging. This is usually not intentional and often completely unconscious on the part of the mother.
Having support is essential. I see that the women who get support (coaching, therapy, community of conscious women, etc.) are the ones who most successfully make it to the other side of the Mother Wound. Otherwise, It’s very easy to get trapped in guilt or shame without it. The tension of making the fundamental change is strong because these inter-generational patterns have incredible momentum. With time, getting support gives you momentum to counter it and make it to the other side.
Dr. Martinez says that what is needed to go beyond what the culture has permitted to us is to create a “subculture of well-being” that validates and celebrates the new paradigm. This is in full alignment with what I’ve written about in terms of the “Rupture of the Mother Line“ and how we as women are forming a “new mother line.” We can more explicitly support one another in owning our value, celebrating one another, and embodying our greatness, which is really just being more of who we REALLY are, more of the time. We need each other, and we need to work together in this if we are to transition to a new culture that values the feminine and life itself in every way: in ourselves, in men, children, animals, and the planet itself.
I think it is actually an exciting time to be a woman and to help build this new culture of realizing the value in ourselves and in others. Not the value for necessarily what we do for others… but the immeasurable value we bring to the world by BEING who we really are.
Owning our value does not take away from others, as the old, scarcity-based paradigm would have us believe.
Owning our value ENHANCES the lives of others:
- Gives others permission to own their value, gifts and strength
- Allows you to share your gifts more freely in your relationships, career and family without shame
- Frees you to find better solutions, form deeper connections and create a more soulful world.
And even deeper than that, the truth is that you have every right to live for you. As women, this is a big one to take in. You don’t have to solely define yourself for who you care for, who you love and who needs you. Give yourself permission to live for you. Whatever that means, whatever that looks like for you.
Find ways to live the way you feel in your soul that you want to live in this world. This is primary. This is the deeper gift, the most extraordinary thing. You living as your soul; you, bringing forward that irreplaceable, extraordinary essence that will never be repeated again.
Even though we do care for many and have people who need us, we need to have a piece of us that is solely for ourselves. Taking a stand for that requires saying no.
Being loyal to your essence, to your soul, to your authentic self ALWAYS serves the whole better than any compliant, attenuated, small version of you could.
It’s going to feel uncomfortable in moments, that’s for sure. And it’s totally, totally worth it. We can support each other in those uncomfortable moments.
Embodying the new narrative comes from highlighting the evidence of your worth.
To endure the tension that comes with being a leader and a pioneer, find evidence of the value that you hold within you, the wisdom, the experience, the commitment, the love that makes up who you are. Find the facts and remind yourself day after day.
The truth is that owning your value feels like betrayal in many ways because that’s what it is. We are betraying the old paradigm by creating the new one. It’s a necessary betrayal as the tectonic plates of our lives and the world shift to create something new.
One could even say that inter-generational betrayal is necessary for evolution.
As Dr. Martinez says, “how would we evolve if no one was willing to risk being shamed for going into new territory? To endure that tension of betraying the OLD paradigm, we must validate and find evidence of our integrity in the NEW paradigm.”
YOU are worth every bit of discomfort it takes to embody and express more of who you truly are in this world. It’s worth it for you in terms of how it creates a powerful inner environment of self-love and because what you offer the world as you radiate from that place of realness is pure gold.
It’s the epitome of a win-win and it’s the foundation of the coming world.
“When you know you are fire, nothing can burn you.” ~Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Questions to contemplate:
1. What have you been tolerating in your life that you would like to set a boundary with
2. Are there any other areas you need to say “No” in? Do you have any fears about saying No? What can you do for yourself to support yourself to say that No?
3. What would open up in your life as a result of saying No? What would become available to you that wasn’t before?
Sit down with a blank sheet of paper and write an exhaustive list of all the talents, experience, wisdom, and qualities you have. List every skill you have, every degree or certification, everything you can think of; big and small. When you think you are done, challenge yourself to think of 5 more things. Pull out this list often. Add more things to it as you gain more skills and develop more qualities in yourself. Pull it out when you feel down and need reminding of the extraordinary person you are. Ideally, look at it every day, especially if you are trying to make a big shift in your life.
Art Credits: Warrior Goddess by Tracie Hanson, Visions of Vespertina by Greg Spalenka