Recently, I had an unusual experience…I wrapped up a keynote speech for the Tempe Chamber of Commerce Women In Business 20th Anniversary Annual Conference. Great event! Interestingly, while preparing my notes, I had an epiphany about a deep wound, one that you would typically share with close friends and if you’re lucky, family; but, I had a strong sense I was supposed to share this deep pain with a room full of strangers! Oh, wait, it get’s better… I shared my epiphany with the actual source of my deepest pain…women. So, if you are dozing off, this probably woke you up!
One of my strengths is relationship building and I enjoy rich relationships with close friends and family. Unfortunately, a broken relationship with my Mom seems to contradict that strength. The effects of my deeply conflicted relationship with my Mother has permeated all of my relationships with women, especially in the work place. For instance, my perception that most women are only focused on “female things” whatever that means, resulted in my only asking women about how to decorate a house; but I wouldn’t dare ask about what stock in which to invest. I would ask about a weight loss program; but I wouldn’t ask a woman to go golfing with me to talk business. In fact, I wouldn’t open my mind to the ideas of a female, if it was something I believed was better executed by a male. Even worse, I wouldn’t open my heart to receive wisdom and insights from a woman. How sad.
Apparently, I was inadvertently creating walls with women due to my notions about my Mom; so much so, that when I encountered women, I actually saw my Mother! This resulted in my inability to accept the wonderful things that women offer, in the business arena and the world at large. I saw women as pretty much “unnecessary” after a child turned 5 years old. I know…it makes me cringe to admit that; but I need to illustrate the deepness of my flawed perceptions.
So, my belief system combined with other common untruths about women created a sordid picture in my mind: “women don’t get along”, “women can’t be trusted”, “women are too emotional”. I could go on and on; but you get the picture. Can you “feel” me here?! Now imagine those negative thoughts playing over and over in my subconscious, as I interact with women throughout my life…
So, about my keynote experience: The epiphany centered around the fact that I was unusually nervous about speaking and I just couldn’t get my speech together. I had two months to prepare and some things were clickin’ but my anxiety blocked my creativity. The uncomfortableness emanated from a deep, hidden place and I knew I had to find out what it was, so I sat down and reflected. Then, just like a revelation…it came to me. All of those subconscious thoughts began to surface. The untruths were actually real in my mind; specifically that, “women Judge each other.” While that may be true for some, it’s not true for all. Meaning, I realized that I was afraid my speech wouldn’t matter because I thought the women would judge me and cut me down because, we often think, that’s what women do. Interpretation: “they are going to reject me anyway, so I’ll just deal with it”. What?! That’s ridiculous because I have rarely experienced that and yet, I was imposing that thought on every female with whom I engaged. Such faulty thinking manifested itself in an unnecessary anxiety as I prepared my keynote speech.
Now, here I am again, sharing my personal story with even more strangers…but thankfully, this feels safer than standing in front of 200 business women. Nevertheless, it is still painful to admit. Luckily, my subconscious thoughts were confronted by my first female mentor, which resulted in an eye opening and life changing experience which led me on a path that has me bearing myself and my soul to awesome women and men!
You know, I still don’t have a good relationship with my Mother; but, I am thankful that I do have rich relationships with women, who are now able to connect with me on a level deep inside which I never knew was there! Many thanks to all my female family, friends and colleagues for giving me the space to grow and to realize…you are the most amazing people I know!