In order to claim your own story, you must understand where your current story came from.
As a woman, if you ever find yourself staying silent to keep from ruffling other people’s feathers or swallowing your truth because you don’t want to risk confrontation, you may be trapped in an outdated story. Generations of women were raised with the prevailing cultural story that based their worth on their external appearance and their ability to find ‘prince charming’ who would deliver a happy ever after.
A shift is happening. The recent MeToo movement, with women everywhere speaking up against the abuse of power, is just one example of how we are rewriting our own story of what it means to be a woman. Elle Luna and Susie Herrick outline this journey in their new book Your Story is Your Power: Free Your Feminine Voice.
Luna and Herrick insist that the use of the word feminine is not just for women, but for anyone who identifies as a woman, and beyond that, “feminine energy lives in everyone.” To discover the heart of your story, they suggest using the metaphor of a labyrinth: “In a labyrinth, there are no roadblocks or tricky turns. The path flows continuously, like water, spiraling and meandering as it goes. It is not a direct line from one point to another, but an organic, evolving process that takes time and moves to its own rhythm.”
In order to claim your own story, Luna and Herrick believe you must understand where your current story came from. Each of us have “three intersecting narratives: your cultural story, your family’s story, and your personal story.” The culture you were raised in gave your messages about what it means to be a woman. Your ideas, your worth, your voice, and whether or not you are willing to compete are all highly affected by the messages you received, and still receive from the culture around you.
Your family story is one layer closer in. Exploring this story involves considering how your parents treated each other, whether you all spoke about difficult things and whether or not emotions were considered ‘okay’- both for the males and the females in your family. Understanding the nuances of your family story can sometimes be achieved by talking with other people in your family who are willing to explore the messages that were being shared.
Finally, your personal story involves how you have incorporated all of these “outside” messages, and how they have shaped your personality. Luna and Herrick write, “you will want to look at your own personality structure so you can evaluate the way it is supporting- or not supporting- you.” Once you understand your tendencies, and how you operate in the world and interact with others, you can begin to make some decisions. Luna and Herrick write, “Do you see any parts of yourself you would like to shift? Are there any aspects of your story that you want to come forward and play a larger role in your life?”
It is at this point, with a full understanding and clear vision of how you got here, that you are at the metaphorical center of your own labyrinth. From here, you can begin to make choices as to how you move forward and outward. Luna and Herrick believe that honoring the parts of yourself that have helped you get to your point is crucial. While there may be aspects of ourselves that we are ready to release, we can thank them for their help, perhaps for helping to protect us up to this point. Here it can be helpful to choose an object to represent the journey of rewriting your story. “Dreams, objects, and images have the power to transform your life. They bridge the world of imagination to the here and now, and they give us courage when we are trying something new and potentially uncomfortable.”
The process of uncovering and imagining your new story is, at its heart, a process of tapping into your own feminine power. Luna and Herrick share a quote by Marianne Williamson, “Feminine power isn’t something we go out and acquire; it’s already within us. It’s something that we become willing to experience. Something we admit we have.” They encourage taking time, and moving with compassion and kindness toward yourself and your journey. As part of this journey, they suggest recognizing the unique gifts of the feminine: “the option of nonviolence, a tendency toward the altruistic, and ability to create beauty for healing purposes, the power to tend to others when under stress, and an ability to befriend in order to solve.” Acknowledging these tendencies can be powerful partners in creating a new and more powerful story that brings the balance of the feminine into the light.