Thursday, February 21, 2008

Life Stew - How Society Influences Female Identity

Have you ever stopped to differentiate between the beliefs you want to have about your life’s direction versus the beliefs you inherit from old habits and from society? Are the expectations of your family, religion, and culture congruent with who you strive to be?

What Exactly Do You Believe?

The beliefs we have about ourselves, about what we should have accomplished, about how we should behave, about what a mother, family, or wife is determine whether we are satisfied with ourselves and ultimately whether we love and accept ourselves. Many women feel frustration and even self-hatred or at least disappointment surrounding their roles as wives, lovers, career women, and mothers. They hold themselves to standards that are based on rules. These rules are based on beliefs about what a woman is.

Women do have a quest at this time in our culture. It is the quest to fully embrace their feminine nature, learning how to value themselves as women and heal the deep wound of the feminine.[i]

What is the deep wound of the feminine? For at least over 4500 years, women, most particularly, woman’s sexuality, has been the domain of the men in their lives; whether it be fathers, brothers, husbands, lovers, or even judges. I am not launching a feminist tirade, but it is critical to acknowledge where we’ve come from and what the past was like for women who came before us.

Each individual is birthed from the societal stew yet our lives are our own expression and responsibility. Part of being an adult is to learn how to stop blaming others and start manifesting ourselves, but this may be hard to do unless we carefully examine what we believe, where we came from, and how these two things relate to each other.

I use the illustration of the stew because a stew has distinct ingredients yet they all influence each other either through dominating flavoring or in more subtle ways. All the ingredients take up the properties of everything that is in the stew. The properties from our societal stew linger in our minds acting like silent partners - governing our lives (our subconscious mind).

Can you name something you did in the last week but now you have no idea why you did it?
Or did you do something you swore you wouldn’t do, but did?

When we take action and make decisions that later baffle us, it is often our silent partner who made the decision for us. Our silent partner believed it was acting in our best interests. It acted for our own survival, to avoid a more painful outcome, or to support subtle – yet critical beliefs we hold. Our silent partner is running around, behind our backs, shaping our lives into something that we later say, “This isn’t how I thought my life would be.”

Name three subtle beliefs you have.
Are some similar to these?

· I can’t take that promotion and still be a good mom.
· I don’t have the money.
· My kids come first.
· If I am not sexually attractive to my husband whenever he wants, he will leave me, or worse – have an affair.
· It’s irresponsible for me to go back to school.

These beliefs – all your beliefs – even the positive ones – originate from the stew. We are like a piece of potato or tofu. We enter this world as an individual. Then we brew in the stew. We are still a piece of potato or tofu, which differs remarkably from carrots or beef, yet we’ve captured the flavorings of all those around us. The secret to a delicious stew, the longer it simmers, the more flavoring ingredients like potatoes and tofu absorb. What beliefs have you absorbed?
Becoming aware of what is influencing us – of what else is in the stew, will help us:

· empower ourselves
· make decisions that generate the outcomes we truly desire
· heal old wounds
· help us be there for the ones we love
· turn dreams into reality

in short, create the life you secretly obsess about.

So what is in your stew? What has your ethnicity, your family, your schools, and your religion taught you about women? What are they teaching your daughter about women?

[i] Murdock, Maureen, “Heroine’s Journey: A Woman’s Quest for Wholeness”, p. 3
About the author: Allison Frederick is a writer and online marketing educator for other creative women. offers free Web 2.0 resources. She is also the author of an upcoming novel, A Portrait of Josephine, an academic-lite thriller. Find out how to receive a free copy of the novel by visiting

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