Last week I was touched by your comments on my blog post about how insecure I was feeling about stepping out into new phases. First, I always love comments as they remind me that someone out there is reading what I write! But, more importantly, it's good for all of us to open up when we can about our experiences and feelings so we can each say, "me too!" Because so many of us are familiar with feeling vulnerable, I wanted to follow-up on that post and share with you a bit of encouragement. It comes from a conversation about politics, but I assure you that each point speaks to us in any insecure spot we're sitting.
Sister Giant-- Our Call to Engage in Politics
Last weekend I attended Sister Giant--a conference designed to encourage women to run for political office as an effective way to bring about justice and care for the vulnerable in our world. The event organizer, Marianne Williamson, is a well-known spiritual teacher who made an incredibly strong case over the weekend that the realm of politics is actually the only place where we can change legislature to actually prevent some of the causes of injustice, rather than only donating to non-profits that are set up to respond more the symptoms. Even advocating or lobbying for change in legislature isn't always effective as there is no money or power behind hungry children, prisoners, or the impoverished. To look at broken systems, like our prisons, and figure out how to better respond to non-violent crimes-- we need big-hearted people in office to care.
The case was well made of the difference that women can make and the need for more of us to show up in that world as candidates, or as women who will support other female candidates.
I can get behind bringing transformation to this world and I know that it is more likely to happen when women hold up our half of the sky. I felt convicted when Marianne said, "Women are indeed called to be homemakers and mothers. What we forgot was that we are called to do it for the whole world-- to be more homemakers of this planet and mothers of all children." Indeed we need more of us caring that there are 17,000 hungry babies dying every day.
How to Show Up When It Sucks
But just watching congress is enough to discourage the best of us! A couple of news interviews listening to party-lines and egos and defensiveness and blame is all I can take. One of the attendees asked the question then that so many of us feel, "I can't even stand watching politics on TV as it all seems so mean-spirited and ego-based-- how would I ever survive in that world long enough to bring about any positive change?"
Marianne answered that question with three points that I think pertain to all of us who feel insecure at times, and she even started with the importance of female friendship:
- Develop a Positivity Team: She quickly acknowledged how fierce the arena can be, and immediately suggested that we need to surround ourselves with positivity teams-- women who will cheer for us, hope with us, and pray for us. That answer obviously gets my female friendship juices going!
- If we were running for office, the jobs of whose on the positivity team are tangible-- women who would call every morning to tell our friend how amazing she is, women who would defend her in the press, women who would help pick up the kids after school, women who would remind her that whatever is said by the opponent isn't necessarily true, etc. How fabulous does that sound?
- I quickly thought of all of us who might not be running for office, but still need positivity teams. Our friends are hopefully versions of that all the time, but if you're going through something big, something temporary, or something that leaves you feeling vulnerable-- maybe the best thing we can do is bequeath this title on them and make sure they know what we need the most right now. We're allowed to ask a friend, "While I'm going through this, will you call me more often and just remind me what you love about me?" Yes, we are.
- Add good, rather than eliminate the bad. There is so much research out there to support this concept now. Whether it's emotional research that reveals it's more significant to add good moments to our lives than it is to try to eliminate stressors or medical research that supports that it's proving more effective to fight bad bacteria by adding good bacteria (i.e probiotics) than it is to just zap the bad ones gone-- the point is that we effectively deal with the bad by adding the good.
- So in politics, her point is well made that the political climate isn't going to change until we add a bunch of good, caring, compassionate, and courageous female candidates.
- But in our private lives that can often feel stressed out and insecure, the remedy is the same. We can't (nor should we want to!) avoid risks, big decisions, and new opportunities just because they increase our stress and fear. But we can add in extra moments of energy and joy when we know we're in stressful times. What makes you happy? What boosts your energy? What stimulates you? What brings you laughter? Try to add some of those!
- And lastly, Show Up in Your Own Armor.Marianne told the inspirational story of David & Goliath. For those of you not familiar with this Old Testament story, David, a sheep-herder discovered that none of his brothers or their comrades in the military would go fight the enemy giant. David believed in their cause and offered to take on the giant. The King quickly gave him all his best armor and choice of weapons, but David could barely move with all that extra weight. He finally just said, "I'll stick with my slingshot and handful of stones." The iconic story ends with David hitting the giant with a stone between the eyes, or the place that many people call the third or inner eye.
- Her point to women in politics was that we don't have to show up acting like everyone else; we'll be most effective when we come with who we are. We don't have to act like the current congress. Just because it's that way now, doesn't mean it's the only way.
- And that hit me for all of us who feel insecure. It reminded me of running for student body president as a college freshman. Someone told me I couldn't win because I was a girl, a freshman, and I had no former experience in the student association. The night before my speech, I turned those very three obstacles into the three reasons the study body should vote for me. And, I won. I was grateful this weekend to remember that story. It provoked me to make a list of what I consider my inadequacies to be now (i.e. no MBA) and turn them into my strengths. How is it that I can come through this moment better and stronger for who I am, rather than for who I'm not? I may feel a bit like David-- but Goliath can come down while I stay true to who I am.
So if you feel insecure right now-- take those three steps to heart. I am.
And if you're thinking of running for any office-- let us know so we can support you! :)