“Myosho Virginia Matthews speaks of inner authority when she says, ‘Women, especially seem to have difficulty finding and trusting that inner authority. I know very few women who trust their truth. I could count them on one hand. But I know hundreds of men who trust their truth because they’re validated from the beginning by their culture, at their schools, in their professions. So women are going to have to find their authority, their courage, their confidence in their perceptions and understanding.’”
from The Unknown She, by Hilary Hart
Validated FROM THE BEGINNING.
When we’re young, we’re taught HOW to do things. We learn them, either directly or indirectly, from our parents, caregivers, teachers and others.
We watch people to learn how to do things.
We watch them to see what is right behavior.
We learn, very early on, how to ‘be’ in the world; whether we say ‘that thing’ or not, whether we trust our own feelings and express them or not, whether we trust ourselves…or not.
We learn that some ways of being are okay, and some are not. It’s really important to teach kids the difference between right and wrong. And yet, right and wrong can be a really long slippery slope. I know. I raised two daughters, and now have three grandchildren. I know I passed on things that don’t serve them. I know just how easy it is to pass on moral judgments that are much, much more than simply helping children to survive in the world.
This quote from Virginia Matthews points out something key that is so important in these times: in general, women are not taught to trust their truth. This truth is the internal compass one uses to navigate life. This is the ‘thing’ we check-in with when we choose. As we open to living our life from what really matters to us, from those things that bring us alive, from that which we love and brings us joy, this compass is critical to trusting that we do have authority, we do have wisdom, and we do have value.
At the core of this, though, is how we are taught to see our own nature, because if we’re taught we can’t trust our own perceptions, what follows is a deep distrust of the way we experience our own nature: instincts, feelings, thoughts, bodies and wisdom. And, if we see boys and men being validated, then somewhere we make up that it is being a woman that can’t be trusted.
If we are not validated from an early age that our truth is real, and that it is the foundation of our personal authority, then we grow up always looking to someone else for this authority.
This truth is the core ‘knowing’ so many of us are striving to find ‘out there’. This truth is our integrity. In the end it is all we really have, because it is at the core of the essence of our nature as sacred beings in sacred bodies.
I have struggled with this one all my life. Trust in my own perceptions; my own knowing; my own experience; my own understandings. And when we’re asking ourselves the question, “What is it to be female?”, trust in our experience is imperative to recognizing truth as opposed to all we’ve been told it is to be female.
What is it like to grow up with your perceptions validated? I turn this question over and it’s as if I can’t quite grasp what the experience would have been like, as a child, as a teenager, as a woman, to have validation mirrored to me in such a way that I so believe in my own authority that there’s no hiccup between perception and action.
It’s not that I feel a victim to this lack of validation. And, it’s not as if I never trust myself. Sometimes it’s clear. It’s that I wonder how it would be to not have it even be an issue.
Of course, nothing is that black and white. I don’t know if that is what it’s like for men. I’m curious if and how they feel validated, or if it is even a question for them.
I know that somewhere I almost always know my own perception. And yet, I don’t always trust it and stick with it, especially when others, whom I’ve been taught ‘know better’, try to convince me otherwise…or want something different…especially when my perceptions tell me my response is ‘No’.
Sometimes, my perception is so fleeting, as if it was simply a scent wafting on the wind.
Sometimes, my perception is right there, so obvious to me as it registers in my psyche. But then the ‘No’ seems to just slide away.
Sometimes, in that little hiccup, I can sense a quick questioning of myself, of what I heard or saw, of what I think about it, of what I feel I have the right to do with it.
That little hiccup is the re-playing, over and over again, of the ‘other’ making it very clear to me that I was wrong in my perception, that I shouldn’t really trust myself.
That little hiccup is a gap, a catching of my breath, a knotting of my heart, that causes me to question myself. And as soon as the question takes hold, I hesitate. And in my hesitation, I am no longer standing on a solid footing of inner-authority.
What I’ve come to see very clearly that the real question at hand is, “Am I willing to face my own fears of what will happen if I do claim my inner-authority? Of others’ perceptions of me? Of how I see myself in the world?
Maybe this last question is the most important one. I, for one, had a self-image of a nice girl, one who was easy-going, not too opinionated, not too strong, not too weak. Boy, has that image been shattered over the last few years…and, thankfully so.
It hasn’t been the easiest thing to really see my shadow, all the ways in which I am quick-tempered, opinionated, hard to get along with, manipulative, fearful, boastful, self-righteous…the list could go on and on.
I’ve discovered this seeing truth, and acting on it, takes courage. It has taken humility to own up to these aspects of personality I would rather avoid. But in the facing up to them, I’ve begun to find some freedom, freedom to trust myself and my own experience, and to speak out in the world of what I envision and the wisdom I’ve gained from a life richly lived.
This truth isn’t the universal truth; it is simply what I know in my own heart. There is no way anyone else could tell me whether or not this truth is true. I can only know it from how it feels. This is my compass.
I do have authority, authority from within. This isn’t authority over others. It is the authority to know that what I feel, and what I have to say, is just as important as any other human being.
It’s also the authority to realize there is a true need, right now in these times, for us to share our own perceptions about what is happening in the world and the wisdom we have that might make a dramatic difference in how things turn out as we try to heal all the damage that has been done.
It comes from trusting that at the heart of who and what we are is a basic goodness that is, at its root, sacred. It comes from knowing that this basic goodness is the goodness and sacredness of all of life.
Others can tell me I am wrong, but it is up to me to stand tall and firm, like a deeply-rooted tree, in what I know in my heart. This is easier for me when I feel called to say, “YES”. It has been much harder for me when I feel called to say, “NO”. ‘No’ challenges. ‘No’ can be perceived as negative. Yet, sometimes ‘No’ is exactly what needs to be said, especially the ‘No’ that can change everything, that can lead to the sweetest ‘Yes’.
How was your truth validated as a child and young woman?
Do you sense a similar hiccup between your own perceptions and your authority to act on them? If so, what have you found works to keep you honoring and living your truth?
Is there a ‘No’ in you waiting to be owned and spoken?