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8 Reasons Why You’re Afraid to Step into Your Feminine Leadership and Self-Expression

Stepping into our Feminine Leadership and Self-Expression means getting honest with ourselves at a level so much deeper than what we may be used to.

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  1. Getting OUT of your HEAD and into your BODY.

If you’re like many other feminine-leaders-in-progress, you may resist getting out of your head and into your body.

So many clients come to me having spent years prior in therapy; they still face many of the same challenges they went into therapy to resolve, years later. The main missing factor I see in people’s transformation or healing journey is this: these people are intelligent and have lots of insights and understanding of their issues, and have talked about them a lot; however, they are still not connecting with their body and body wisdom, a.k.a. sensations, emotions, feelings, intuitions, etc. while they think or talk about their issues. A lot of my work consists in serving as a bridge for people to help them transition back into their hearts and bodies and actually feel the emotions they associate with what they experienced.

A concrete example of what happens when you talk about your experience, yet are disconnected from feeling it is talking openly and even generously about your experience, as one client did about being bullied at a young age by classmates, yet speaking about it nonchalantly, as if you were talking about something casual or not so emotionally touching, like walking your dog.

This is how I notice people are disconnected from their body and their experience: it doesn’t mean they have to have a full-on breakdown or even start crying when they talk about it, but if I am moved by what they are sharing and they either seem not to be OR they’re not even aware of how/why their share is having an impact on me, the listener, it’s a good indicator that they’re not aware of the impact that share has on their own self!

How do I support you?
By slowing you down, reflecting, “Wow. You just shared this. When I hear that, I feel xy in my body. How do you feel about that?” Often you’ve spoken or thought about your experience a lot, but not yet truly acknowledged to yourself what that even means to you, or in other words, how that experience impacts and lands on you, and consequently, what you will want or need to do as a result from it, or how you will grow from it. Sometimes you need permission or validation to feel what you really feel about the situation, since you may have been scolded or discouraged from feeling what you really felt when you were young.

2. Owning Your Feelings!!  (Including & especially anger!!)

….and facing some of those emotions you stuffed away!!

Getting into your body implicates actually FEELING whatever feelings are there. 

If you’re, again, at all like MOST ladies I know, you’ve likely done your fair share of “stuffing” of emotions. 

Healing and stepping into your Feminine Leadership and Self-Expression implies owning your feelings. This includes–yep!–anger, which is the one I’ve noticed is the hardest emotion for women to allow themselves to feel.

Here is a break down of the feelings I notice women most running away from and a little bit about how or why it’s important to face: 

Anger: Our culture has taught you that it’s not “nice” to get angry or set limits. They say that if you’re angry you’re a bitch, unattractive, ugly, etc. It’s likely due to not being allowed to express anger as a child, or to things you were told about it. Or, it can also be that you saw people around you expressing anger in an abusive way, which frightened you and made you decide never to express anger again. Owning your anger does not mean being run by your anger or lashing out, or in any way misusing your anger, but it does mean acknowledging to yourself where/how/in what situations you have felt angry, and allowing yourself the space to deal with that; whether it’s through an anger practice, like punching pillows, writing letters that you’ll never send to the people that piss you off, or taking it out in a workout, it really doesn’t matter HOW as much as that you do get as COMFORTABLE and facile with this emotion as you are with all of the others. 

Why is that, you say?

Well, emotions are like the spectrum of colors. If you are very facile with some, but not with others, you will be limited with what you will get to create. You may say you only want a joy-filled tableau, but, just think what a lifetime of only yellow paintings would be like. Even Picasso (who is not an entirely nice guy, by the way, but helps me illustrate this point quite well) had his “Blue Period” –and then it was over! 🙂 

Fear: Many women shy away from their leadership and self-expression because they are afraid of rejection, a negative reaction, abandonment, etc. It is super important to become aware of your fear and its roots, and to take responsibility for it.

Shame: Shame blossoms in secrecy. When you feel ashamed about your anger or your emotions, and don’t share them, it can be all too easy to get stuck there, in the secrecy.

Guilt: Women very often experience guilt when they say “no”, and often say “yes” when they mean “no” simply to avoid this feeling. It’s important to be able to feel it and know how to not let it rule you.

3. Acknowledging your Dissonance with Some Family of Origin and/or Their Behaviors.  

Being honest with yourself and looking at your roots, such as some of the ways your family’s behavior and culture, and the things they taught you don’t exactly vibe with you, is a huge part of the journey towards Feminine Leadership and Self-Expression. 

Yeah, most people I work with have a hard time admitting to themselves how objectionable they find some of their parents or main caretaker’s behaviors, attitudes, etc. including some of the limiting beliefs they may have inherited as a result, and/or the impact that has had on them, including patterns consistently showing up in their current  relationships. 

This attitude of resistance towards looking at our family of origin’s behavior is so commonplace, in part, because our culture in general takes a stance of denial towards studying the roots of our patterns and behaviors. Think, “Study the history so it does not repeat itself”, ironically said by Napoleon Bonaparte! Our culture does a lot of memorizing and taking tests on history; but our culture sure does not do a good job of looking at its history to learn from it and stop repeating the same patterns!! (i.e. just think war, genocide, etc.)

I am constantly reminding my clients that there is a huge difference between looking at what happened in our homes growing up and our response to it, vs. blaming our parents. In fact, taking true stock can be a great way to stop blaming and take responsibility now as adults for our lives.  

One common fear I see in resistance to this exploration is the culturally indoctrinated, “You’ll be a bad, ungrateful, blaming child if you speak poorly about your mother” – type of thing.  An even greater fear that holds people back from this exploration of their early childhood upbringing is the fear of the unknown or the uncertainty of what you will have to do in response to what you glean from the exploration. In other words, you may fear your relationship with your primary caregivers shifting, or having to confront your sibling. You may fear realizing you’ve been avoiding setting boundaries with family members, suspecting or fearing it may cause a rupture or, at least, a significant change in the relationship. You may also believe yourself incapable or simply unwilling to have those conversations or set those boundaries at this time. Now I want to show you how this fear of unwillingness may be another one of those reasons you’re afraid to step into your true feminine leadership and self-expression. 

4. Having to Set Boundaries–and realizing you’re not “there” or “willing” to set some of them! (a.k.a Taking Responsibility for Ourselves)

I cannot emphasize this point enough! This is a huge biff I have with the coaching industry: it really discourages safe conversation.

Most “Women’s Empowerment Coaches” etc. out there encouraging you to “do as they say” are really not being feminine at all in the way they act as if there is just ONE way to do this. Shame thrives on secrecy, and when you feel that you won’t be met where you are, and you are expected to be “somewhere else” on a topic, then you won’t feel very safe to be real about where you are at. To me, this feels disempowering. 

If you are wanting to IMPROVE your boundary setting and how you speak up for yourself, you have to feel met where you are and not shamed!  I am all about creating SAFE SPACES in which we are each free to explore and be met wherever we may be at.

“Guru coaching”, which insists there is “one right way” to do things, only feeds one of the most common limiting beliefs I see: the fear of “not being good enough”. 

The fear of not being good enough holds us back from speaking up, from taking our seat at the table, and proposing something. 

Why? Why do we do it?
Let’s take a look at the perspective that statistically speaking, there is a higher prevalence of anxiety, depression, and other inwards-turning diagnoses amongst women, whereas men have a higher incidence of violence and drug abuse, for example. 

Women or feminine beings have a tendency to turn their aggression inwards, while men or masculine ones, generally, turn their aggression outwards. This is, of course, a generalization, but we can see, perhaps, culture trends that have to do with how little girls are indoctrinated about how “anger isn’t pretty” and “little girls don’t look pretty when they’re angry”. The focus is on how girls look and how they are, versus boys, who are praised for what they do (their performance on teams and in sports), even when they “do” something like misbehave. Boys, then, have more external “places” to take their anger, while girls seem to “naturally” turn it inwards.

We can see this is cultural conditioning, however, which can be reversed; to do that, however, we need to face our limiting beliefs about anger, and, what’s MORE difficult, is actually ALLOW the anger to course through our veins: to feel it, rather than turn it inwards!!!

Most importantly, though, is that, coming back to the idea of “not good enough” ( a form of turning the aggression inwards towards the self), this idea holds a lot of women back from representing themselves powerfully in the world. 

Owning your aggression/ anger is a powerful catalyst for feminine leadership and self-expression. Owning anger and aggression is a crucial step towards taking responsibility for ourselves and boundary setting. Owning anger and aggression does NOT mean taking it out on people. Owning your own anger and aggression means embracing this part of the self and loving it and accepting it, alongside all of the other parts of yourself, like the kind and generous part of you. It means taking care of it, giving it attention (journaling about it, meditating with it, amongst other suggestions), and accepting it.

And the fact is that as long as we feel ashamed about our own self or like we are not “good enough” or don’t “measure up”–we don’t get INTO THE DIALOGUE of the thing. I see a lot of women skirt away from the topic of boundaries or speaking up for their desires, OR DANCING for that matter, but because some leaders in the field SHAME women into thinking that if they’re NOT willing to say “no” to a relationship or set a boundary here or there, then they might as well NOT be in the conversation. 

I am all about creating a safe enough space for women to be in the conversation and be met wherever they are at. Goodness knows I’ve hit upon some major resistance and I think the path towards wholeness is made up of BABY STEPS, which include clear and honest conversations. Clear and honest conversations mean that we don’t bring SHAME into them, that we don’t feel shamed for where we are at, rather, that we can be HONEST about where we are at. This honesty allows us to step into taking responsibility for wherever we may be at. 

5. Pissing People Off (Fear Not being Liked or Winding Up Alone) 

The fear of pissing people off and having changes in your current partnership, OR in any relationship, including those with friends or family members,  faces us with our addiction to external validation, to seeking approval and validation from the outside, i.e. other people.  You may fear that your changes will either end or bring conflict to the relationship in question. 

Let’s grab the bull by the horns and say that, as much as we’ve made many shifts in the way girls are raised, most of us adult women were still raised with lots of socio-cultural messages (Disney, cartoons, the people around us) demonstrating to us that the highlight of our existence as women is to get married and have kids. One layer deeper than that, the message is that women should be, even if they’re not moms or married, looking after someone, i.e. in the caring and nurturing role.

It’s very common for women to experience fear of the idea of being or winding up alone, for many reasons.

And, I don’t think that’s entirely “bad”: human beings ARE tribal creatures!! I know I want to be in community. For sure. 

AND– I also see that this is a collective wound because in our globalized world,  we often don’t live in communities anymore. We often live nowhere near our families! And, we live in one-family apartment buildings, most of the time, and that means that if you don’t have a husband/partner and/or a family, you… are alone! 

We have to create communities, and this is now a challenge that the individual faces, not so much something the world or our towns/villages take care of, you know? 

But I do think that another point altogether is, as is pointed eloquently out by Toko-Pa Turner in her book “Belonging”, sometimes the longing for community or the fear of being alone has us betray our own selves, by shaping, molding, manipulating ourselves to fit into others’ expectations or preferences; in other words,  we can shape or mold our identity based  on what others’ think of or want from us or we would like them to think of us. Facing our fear of pissing others’ off, risking relationships, etc. makes us find our own root within ourselves; it makes us reach within for security from our own self, rather than from the outside. This inner rooting makes us, in turn, much more resilient and able to take action based on our truth, rather than from people pleasing.  (More on this in Point #7)

6. Fear of the Unknown or Uncertainty.

Yet another reason why you may be afraid of stepping into your feminine leadership and self-expression ties into Point #5 above of fearing pissing people off and it also takes it a step further…. 

If you were raised in Western society, you were likely conditioned to believe that if you followed a certain path or sets of rules (go to school, University, get a good job, get married), you would certainly find security. Maybe you think that if you do things as you were taught by, say, your parents or school teachers, you may be able to expect a similar outcome to what they’ve had. Now, this may not align exactly with what you would like for yourself, however, going through with what society, or your parents, expect for you can feel more safe, familiar, and comfortable, than taking the risk of going for your dream! 

It’s like the difference between having a salaried job and being an entrepreneur. Your true calling may be to start your own business, however, you might have a hard time letting go of the certainty and securities that a salaried job brings with it. 

Now, this example applies to just about everything in life. Maybe your parents never left the town they were born and raised in, and you would like to move across the world. Taking a leap of faith can feel scary, however, it can also bring with it fulfillment and rewards beyond your imagination. It’s like the saying that winning requires taking risks. I would say that fulfilling our nature requires some leaps of faith that feel like risks.  While it can feel scary to not have a “guaranteed outcome” sort of deal (though, in my opinion, life in general does not offer guarantees, except for the fact that we will all die one day!), it’s important to recognize it is a fear of the unknown and uncertainty, and not let yourself be run by this fear.  

7. Facing Your Deeper Fears of Scarcity and Lack of Self-Worth. 

This article would be incomplete if I did not mention self-worth or self-value. 

Maybe this fear shows up as the feeling that what you have to say or share really isn’t all that interesting, or that your desire isn’t worth giving it your all.  

In other words, insecurity. 

I could say a lot on this topic, but I am going to keep it brief. We have been conditioned to seek our validation or sense of security from the outside world, that is, through our grades, our accomplishments, verbal or other kinds of praise, etc. etc. 

Growing up, or evolving as a feminine, self-expressed leader implies shifting the soil in which your roots have been planted, over from the public soil of external validation, and placing those roots of your security within the soil of yourself. You begin granting yourself worthiness and security, because you are a unique being, equal and worthy of such, just like everyone else on this Planet. You become more discerning about whose opinion you care about and just how much it can or cannot affect you. You cease revolving around external validation and focus as your end-all-be-all, determining factor of how you feel about yourself.

8. You’ll have to give up some of the 4 C’s:  

  • Comfort
  • Convenience
  • Certainty
  • Control (ooh, how we love this one! 🙂 One of our faves)

A lot of what has been said about what may be holding you back from stepping into your feminine leadership and self-expression could be summarized in this: we are culturally addicted to the 4 C’s– Comfort, Convenience, Certainty, and Control. 

It took me many years to really grasp how my addiction to control manifested itself in my life. Now I really see it as how I mask my fears in life. In other words, whenever I get into a fight, get stuck in my righteous anger or thinking, obsess/ruminate, control outcomes, people please or manipulate someone by doing X so they will do Y, cross my own boundaries so that Y thing will happen, and more, I am controlling. 

What is the opposite of controlling, one might wonder? Well, surrendering. Surrendering to what? Well, the Great Reality, Truth, the Universe, whatever you want to call it, but, that thing which, quite frankly, right now during Corona times has frankly kicked all of our butts and shown us that we are not always in control. It’s the same force, and includes that which has all plants and nails grow, gravity, and all else that is beyond our control. Life itself, we could call it.

Stepping into our Feminine Leadership and Self-Expression means really getting honest with ourselves at level so much deeper than what we may be used to, which is often uncomfortable. And inconvenient. Like the non-linear nature of the feminine, the path of feminine wisdom offers no “end goal”. There is no “perfection” to reach. And, being in feminine leadership of our lives involves living in the present, removing our goggles of illusion which delude us into thinking we know much more than what we know just for TODAY. 

If you enjoyed this Essay, I invite you to grab your copy of my  “Preliminary Guide and Overview to Feminine Self-Expression & Leadership” PDF (for FREE) here

About the Author

Tanya Dantus is an expert at helping heart-centered women bust through inner barriers to make space for their full blossoming. She is the founder and facilitator of the Motherhood Empowerment Program, Right HerStory, Unleash Your Inner RockStar, and The Power of No. With a M.A. in Counseling Psychology and a B.A. in Anthropology, Tanya marries knowledge and intuition, as well as embodied wisdom and spirituality, embracing the power of the expressive arts, dance, and movement. Always extremely intuitive and fascinated by the world of symbols and depth, she’s committed to a path of deeply knowing and expressing herself  for over 15 years. She has made guest appearances on the Radio, Television, Podcasts, Summits, and facilitated transformational work for hundreds of people all over USA, Mexico, Canada, and Germany. Currently living on the edge of the Black Forest with her son, she empowers women to lead their most unleashed lives. Grab a copy of her “Preliminary Guide and Overview to Feminine Self-Expression & Leadership” PDF (for FREE) here

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