Following on from reading an amazing book whilst on holiday just now, Playing Big. By Tara Mohr. I have learnt a lot about us Woman, and also about me and the way in which my mind is working.
This book is so amazing that I would happily go as far as to say that I believe ALL Woman should read it. It’s applicable to all of us to one degree or another. The thinking strategies and tweaks to my (seemingly common) mind-set, I’m sure, will go on to have a profound effect on my life, and as a Mother of girls too, I hope it will filter through to them as well.
There are ten chapters in the book, each teaching a different skill/re-wire to your way of thinking. But before I hit each of those chapters on the blog, consider the following for a moment – Tara writes this at the end of the book, and it really stood out as a point that us girls should all take on board –
‘We woman find it more comfortable to discuss moments of overwhelm than moments of contentment. It is socially acceptable for women to talk about how exhausted we are or how torn we are between our work opportunities and our commitment to our kids. It’s socially acceptable to talk about the moments where we don’t feel we measure-up in either domain of our life, as one constantly pulls us away from the other. But, I am not sure it is socially acceptable yet for a Woman to talk about not feeling overwhelmed, to say that she measures up. Standing in the conviction that one is a great mother and a professional and saying, “Yeah, im resting in the greatness of both, and it’s fabulous,” It’s still transgressive- Probably because when a Woman declares that kind of enoughness about herself, she has so much power’
Now I know I am guilty of this – How about you?
(I think this statement rings true for woman whether they have children or not – For those who haven’t: it’s socially unacceptable to say that they are fully fulfilled without children. And It is certainly socially unacceptable for a woman who has them and is taking time out from her career to only raise the family to say that she is fully content without career validation too, having spent some time as a full-time mother – I can vouch for that one first hand. Jeez – What’s a girl gotta do to get some social acceptance round here?!)
Ok, I digress. back to topic.
I don’t think I ever used to temper my contentment as much as I do these days. And when I question why I now do this more; as I’ve got older, I honestly think that it has become a ‘learned skill’ from other woman.
I have learned, dare I say it, to … Oh god … I’m just going to have to come right out and say the word – I’ve learned to MOAN! (Tara obviously doesn’t use the term ‘Moaning’ herself, but let’s not try and dress it up as something else here) and you know, I do it a lot more than I used to. (Yet I am happier and more fulfilled than ever before) I think I assumed that I was learning humility, but it seems that all this time I’ve just been learning to moan like a gooden’ and play the safe game to fit in more.
For women, coming together with our negatives has become our ‘therapy’. But I am wondering – how contagious is this behaviour? Are we just hampering the good stuff in each other?
Why do we do that?
Well according to Tara Mohr, we ladies have evolved over millennia to thrive on being likeable – We crave acceptance from those around us. And the quickest way for a woman to gain acceptance by other Women commonly is to ‘play down’ our personal successes and by keeping ourselves nice and low way below the radar, on the nice steady boat. Not too successful, because in Women, Success equals intimidation. We need to appear nice and ‘down to earth’.
If a woman rocks the boat by speaking up, going against the grain of a conversation say, then she risks criticism. She risks looking too harsh, too confident (translates as cocky), too argumentative. And the consequence of this is that she may risk being far too unlikeable. Even Men tend not to like an outspoken woman (by outspoken, I mean successful and happy to point out her brilliance when questioned). In my experience – too many positives for a Woman un-nerves the people around her. Its a risky game.
In other words, unlike Men, we Women have evolved a mentality where we avoid criticism at any cost by playing it safe and small. And if that includes getting involved in the negative tempering of our own personal wins, then that’s just what we do. We have become too hooked on praise and criticism.
It’s silly isn’t it? But we all do it, to one degree or another. And since reading the book I can’t help but analyse how much I partake in this behaviour.
I don’t believe for one second that we ladies are as bad at what we do, as we gladly make out to one another. And I do fully agree with the book when it states that Woman are stuck in a pattern of verbal ‘self-sabotage’. We then risk becoming our own self-fulfilling prophecy by believing it too.
Personally, I believe this, let’s call it ‘anti-arrogant’ behaviour, has as much to do with compassion as it does just being likeable. We don’t want to risk offending anyone. Perhaps that brings us back round to likeability after all:
Maybe likeability is often disguised as female compassion?
We are all learning this socially acceptable female behaviour from our For-mothers. However, in order to continue and progress the Woman’s Movement, we need to start to question things like our learned mind-set. Because, this Mind-set might be trailing behind and doing us more harm than good.
According to the book, it’s this very learned practice of Woman, which is hampering our own successes. And this is one of the (albeit detailed) reasons that keeps us girls playing small. Or at the very least- smaller than we could and should be.
We receive a compliment, then we immediately temper it with a negative. It’s just more comfortable that way.
And there it is my friend – Self-sabotage. Never mind our personal lives – how must this inherent behaviour effect our professional lives too?
And so, whilst I sit here (in France, under a tree, lapping up the shade from this unexpectedly hot April afternoon sun) my pondering mind continues… (oh, someone stop me now!)
Have we, as a society of women become stuck in a negative behavioural rut: complaining that too much is expected of us? But yet we happily admit to not being able to accomplish everything because it’s too tough. Because the expectations are too high. I would suggest though, the expectations put on us are exactly what we’ve always wanted.
If I were to risk really rocking the boat here, and stick myself out on a dodgy, potentially unlikeable limb, I would wonder what we Woman sound like today? … I would wonder if this generation of Woman are encouraging each other’s demise through some kind of incompetence-promotion without even realising.
I would wonder that if, by playing small and safe and likeable, we are not quite making the most of the amazing legacy that has been left to us by previous generations of Woman who fought so tirelessly, and in some cases died, to give us the equality levels which we all enjoy today?
As a Mother of girls, I can’t help but feel that all Woman today have a responsibility to continue to shift things along, to do our bit. And maybe this starts with our mind-set. Today.
The first thing to do is to notice this behaviour. Call yourself out on it when you do it, then, try to steer away from it and encourage your female tribe to do the same.
Enabling yourself and those around you to fully revel in your own brilliance, without guilt, without conscience and especially, without tempering.
Next, I will look at the following chapters:
Finding your Inner critic (I found mine the morning after I read this chapter, and my god, she is a harsh bitch from hell – I don’t listen to her anymore!)
Finding your Inner Mentor (Now this part really is a revelation. Prepare to have your mind blown.)
So what do you think? Does any of this ring true to you, or do you disagree entirely?
You can buy the book from Amazon
and to read a little snippet from Tara, check out her simple 10 rules for brilliant woman
Disclaimer and source
Sources taken from Playing Big.
All opinions and examples given are my own.
This is not sponsored, it is however, a life-changer that I just have to share.