Women, more than ever before, are feeling the effects of living, breathing and working in a man’s world.
Like canaries in a coalmine, our bodies are sending distress signals – from PMS, PND, PCOS to amenorrhea, infertility, skin issues, adrenal fatigue and autoimmune conditions.
To what extend is being a woman related to how we experience health, and how can we use our unique wisdom to overcome fatigue, the feminine way?
We are living in a time when we face unprecedented choice in how we orchestrate our work, family and home lives. Rather than seeing this choice as the privilege that it is, though, we are more stressed and sick than ever before.
Women now can have it all. Only when we tell women that they can have it all what we cannot see is the layers upon layers of patriarchal conditioning that lie below the surface. The beliefs that have been passed through our very DNA … these beliefs that provide the scaffolding on which we build our lives, and our wellbeing.
These beliefs include ‘I’m only worthy if I’m productive’, ‘rest is selfish’, ‘give to others first’, ‘my worth is in the beauty of my body’.
Our nervous systems remember those women outcast or burned for not being compliant enough, pretty enough, quiet enough, smart enough or productive enough.
These beliefs have us working tirelessly, frantically to attain the best bodies, the best jobs, the best education and experiences for our kids and the closest bonds with those around us.
The message might be ‘we can have it all’, but all we hear is ‘we must do it all… our very life depends on it’.
In addition to these beliefs that have an impact on our wellbeing and how we feel in our bodies, there are other ways that living in a man’s world is impacting our health, including:
- the 35 hour work week that doesn’t allow women to work with our natural rhythms and menstrual cycles
- an imbalance resulting from the favouring of the masculine energy (energy of analysing, rationalizing, intellectualizing, disciplining and controlling) and our feminine energy (energy of allowing, receiving, intuiting and creating)
- shaming of women’s bodies and life events including menstruation, miscarriage, abortion, birth and menopause resulting in a disconnection from our pelvic bowl
- the loss of women’s circles, communities and other supportive groups that allow women to show up in a non-competitive, non-judgmental, vulnerable and open way
- a disconnection from nature and the continued defilement of the great mother earth
- a distrust of women’s wisdom in favour of male medical expertise
- a favouring of rational logic over feeling and emotions resulting in an inability to be vulnerable, to express and release stored emotion and work through trauma
- a mechanical model of healthcare that sees the body as parts and not as a whole
- the loss of spiritual practice and ritual to mark important life journeys
- a wellness paradigm that is predicated on the notion that happiness and health can be achieved by fixing what is wrong with us, rather than accepting the wholeness we already are.
The net result is a whole generation of women feeling disconnected from our bodies and our power, overworked, disconnected, overtired and low in self worth and esteem.
So what, if anything, can we do about it?
The dominant paradigm when it comes to wellness has been built, similarly, on the masculine model of health and energy. One that is competitive, values consistency and has win/lose or success/failure-based outcome.
So at the very time when our bodies are screaming for some tender loving care, some nourishment, some gentle words of encouragement, we instead perceive our physical symptoms as a chance to double down and punish ourselves even more.
When inevitably, we are unable to continue punishing ourselves healthy, we collapse. Convinced that we are indeed, as we feared, a failure or a quitter.
The feminine approach to wellness looks and feels a little different and may just be a salve to our aching hearts. It is not limited to benefiting those who identify as women alone – rather, bringing more of this wisdom into mainstream wellbeing efforts would continue the awakening of the feminine energy worldwide and the rebalancing of the distorted masculine energy that has dominated much of the century.
- is about learning, acceptance and growth – not winning or losing
- uses praise as an encouragement – understanding that women respond more to praise than to challenge
- aims to amplify the gifts that are already present rather than fixing perceived inadequacies
- is non-repetitive and non-linear – we simply respond to what we need each day and honour what it is that needs to be felt and moved
- connects us to our bodies, rather than disconnects us, through practices, rituals, movement and feeling
- helps us to hold space for emotion, rather than suppressing it
- honours our seasons and cycles – helping us to adapt our wellness practices accordingly
- connects us with like minded, safe, communities that can help us to grow and heal
- works with our bodies, minds and souls as an interconnected whole
- celebrates our unique capacity to create and honours our reproductive organs accordingly
- is as much about learning to listen, allow and receive as it is about ‘doing’ things.
What a gift to live in a time when conversations about women’s bodies and women’s experiences are being beamed across the world. Conversations that recognise that both the cause and the solutions to our wellness woes can be in reclaiming the feminine parts of ourselves long since abandoned.
I encourage you to today, instead of doing what you feel you should be doing for your wellness, spend some time really listening to what it is you feel, and what it is you need.
Your body, mind and soul will thank you for it.