"Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate." -- Carl Jung
As women, we have inherited and learned thousands of years of adaptive behavior to patriarchy. This knowledge is handed down from mothers and fathers to children and often includes a template of do's, don'ts, double-standards, and practices that keep the patriarchy in place.
We don't usually think of the way we operate in the world as being programmed within us, in fact, the rebel in you might even balk at this idea. But the reality is that until we become conscious in our lives about what motivates our behavior, and take responsibility for our compulsions, we are are operating out of the programming that we inherited.
Part of this programming includes attitudes about women, women's bodies, and women's roles in the world. Because we are also internalizing sexist attitudes, it is possible for women to carry a negative bias towards other women. Surprising?!
Consider this. How many times have you been a part of, or heard, women critiquing other women? Their choice of dressing? The way they behave around men? How they attend to their children? How they participate in school activities and community events? This is more than just idle gossip. When we compare ourselves to other women, we are comparing our own imprint of how a women "should be" to women who are different. In this way we carry an unconscious bias about being a woman, towards other women, and unconsciously collude with patriarchy.
Unconscious bias refers to a bias that we are unaware of, and which happens outside of our awareness. It is a bias that happens automatically and is triggered by our brain making quick judgment and assessments of people and situations (including our own), influenced by our background, cultural environment, and personal experiences. When we behave unconsciously, we are whipped around in life like the tail wagging the dog.
Consider your life today. Are you living your dreams or someone else's? Are you operating from your own intrinsic place of value and worth, or are you fighting against a part of yourself that tells you to sit down and be quite? Are you in a relationship where you feel valued for who you are, or are you subservient to your partner?
Consider your relationships with other women. Are you competitive? Do you support other women to achieve their dreams? Do you wonder what's wrong with you that you can't seem to achieve what other women have achieved?
This is not your fault but it is your responsibility.
There are many forces that shape the women we are today.
- The culture and part of the world where we grew up,
- Our parents attitudes towards having a daughter,
- What our parents and other authority figures told us was our potential as a girl and a woman,
- Our religion and whether our religion had a female deities,
- How the stories and secrets of our mother and the other women in our families were told to us, and
- The historical climate during our youth.
This exercise has several questions that will guide you to a deeper insight of life experiences that have influenced and shaped the woman you are today.
Share below what you learned about yourself from this exercise.
Find Terri online @TerriConnects and firstname.lastname@example.org.