Today is International Women’s Day, and a few days ago I was emailed a challenge from Jacky Carter, the managing editor at LinkedIn for professional women (https://www.linkedin.com/in/jackycarter) to write an article “about a woman who has inspired you in your career or profession?”
I thought a lot about who I would write about, and it took a little soul searching to admit that who my greatest teacher was: my mother! She is a strong woman who accomplished things in her life which bucked the notions of her time that women can’t have their own businesses or earn a good salary. She never took no for an answer and always found a way to do something. She was good at what she did and didn’t hide it. She was very good with her money, and didn’t blow it on shoes or clothes.
She should have been an incredible role model for me throughout my life, but for most of my life I rejected everything about her, and pretty much focused on doing the opposite of what she would do, since she had also been my abuser verbally, emotionally and physically.
I was afraid of turning out like her, so I focused on becoming her opposite.
It took me years to realize this wasn’t a healthy way to set my course in life, and I buckled down to do the hard work of healing from my past and to learn the life skills to have a happy and balanced life.
Since I had been severely criticized in my childhood, I had internalized feelings of inadequacy. No matter how good I had become at doing things, I still felt I wasn’t good enough, that I was still lacking.
I thought I projected these feelings, because it seemed that other people could hone in on them and manipulate me. I’ve come to realize that people size each other up continuously, and many will seek to figure out where we stand against them in the pecking order of life, so they’ll lob out comments to get reactions. Depending on how we respond tells them a lot about us, and they’ll treat us accordingly.
So when we can own our past, learn new tools of dealing with life, we can slowly remove those raw nerves and emotional mine fields which hold us back.
One of the great quotes I came across, which seems so innocuous but which holds so much truth, is by Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
When we are children, we can be at the mercy of adults in our lives, which can end up scarring many of us terribly, which can make us feel angry, resentful and very raw. We can overcompensate, to hide and cover up so others can’t see our scars.
However, we own our adulthood. We have the power to remake ourselves, to heal, to learn, to move forward and to become awesome! So as we progress, we change, and our responses to other people change as well, so the buttons people used to push in order to manipulate us slowly start to disappear!
Once I learned the internal truth of Eleanor’s statement, I found I no longer accepted other people’s judgments of me and I wasn’t afraid to rock the boat to speak up for myself! I learned I no longer was afraid if people wanted to call me a bitch, and I wasn’t going to stay a people-pleaser just to avoid that nasty label.
I know my truth. I know that I can be strong, and that doesn’t make me a bitch. I can be gentle and compassionate and that doesn’t make me weak.
I have learned to embrace all the different sides of my personality, and still be able to forgive myself when I mess up, because I know I’m still a work in progress, and tomorrow is a new day to start over!
It’s taken me many years, but I can now give my mother accolades for being a strong woman ahead of her time! (I think it’s also appropriate to spotlight my mother, since she was a huge supporter of International Women’s Day since it first started. I remember her sending away for a bunch of literature on it, and sitting me and my brother down when I was eleven, to explain the significance to us. She made sure he could cook, do laundry and take care of himself, while she made sure I was independent and able to do “boy” things.)
What have I learned from her that I’ve been able to pass on to my daughter, who is also a strong and awesome woman? I’ve learned the value of hard work, both looking inward and working for what we want in life. I learned that I can have my own business, that I have what it takes to run it! I’ve learned the value of a dollar, and how to save. I’ve learned to hold my head up, even when life seems to have it in for me! I learned to use power tools, a hammer and a screw-driver properly, so we can take care of some DIY projects around the house. I learned that I don’t NEED to have a man in my life, but rather I can be with a man because I WANT to!
These are powerful lessons to learn in life. I encourage everyone to meditate on Eleanor’s words, for we can always learn more from them, when we look inward fearlessly!
If you need help and support in learning some of these lessons and tools, you can find them in the eBook, paperback or audio book: “On Becoming a Lemonade Maker” by Tamara Kulish.
All the quotes featured in my blog posts are available as prints on Fine Art America, just click on an image and you’ll go to the FAA website!
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#On Becoming a Lemonade Maker, #Tamara Kulish,