A Piece For Women: Some thoughts on the Woman Within training When was the last time you felt like someone really heard you? Heard you without judgement or trying to fix you? Heard you and sat with you in your pain or joy without taking away what you truly feel about yourself - warts and all? How often do you have the time to hear yourself and touch your inner wisdom? What are the stories you tell yourself about the kind of woman you are? Are you loud, quiet, soft, ambitious, strong, caring, frightened, confident - or all of the above? Do you have a niggling sense that you’re stuck, or repeating the same patterns? Perhaps you want more from your relationships. Perhaps you just really want a relationship.
You might feel that there’s more to life, or you have more to offer. What if you could offer it by doing less, and being more? And how would it be if you could see what that was like, in a supportive place where you set the pace?
It’s an incredible thing to realise that all women - no matter where they’re from, how old they are, or what their life experiences have been - go through very similar things to us. And have done since time began. Women are many things at once. We take on roles - daughter, mother, lover, wife, grandmother, worker, and student. We plan, and dream, and look after other people. Some of us have to fight for our position in life, and struggle to be heard.
Every kind of woman does the Woman Within Training Weekend. Something many of us do is look at each other, make judgements about each other, and then make judgements about ourselves in comparison. We have preconceptions about what life is like for other women, and what they’ll think of us. Some of us are perfectionists, and some of us take a conscious decision not to care what anyone else thinks.
Everything is welcome at the Woman Within Training Weekend. Your feeling safe is the most important thing, even though that means something different for everyone. You won’t be asked to do anything that you don’t agree to. It’s an opportunity to leave behind those roles that you play so well, and to listen to who you really are. To learn by listening to other women, without needing to hear the whole story. To be surprised by what you hear when everything is quiet.
If you’re like most women I know, you’ve probably spent some time talking about yourself. To yourself, even. You might have thought a lot about what makes you tick. I know I had when I did the Weekend. What I hadn’t done was stop thinking. I had never stopped trying to explain everything and make sense of it, and feel instead. I found out that when I let myself feel something rather than thinking about it, I get to the answer that’s right for me much more quickly; or at least something that I can work with.
The Weekend didn’t tell me everything about myself, or the exact direction my life should take, although it did for some. What it gave me, two years ago, was a very strong sense that I would be OK. A solid feeling, right at the heart of me, that I can still access any time I need or want to.
I also learned how to be quiet, both on the outside and the inside. I learned that I can listen without judgement, and in any situation I can choose how I react. I am powerful, in a good way, and I can be powerful without being “too much”, or aggressive. I don’t have to talk my problems away, but I can if I want to, and I will be heard. If I’m frightened of something, I know that I can be my own support, and if I need support, it’s there.
I can’t tell you what happened on my weekend. Partly because I’m very glad no-one told me what was going to happen before I went, and I don’t want to ruin it for you! But mostly because I can’t remember - I don’t remember the words, or thoughts, or what I did, in any detail. What I remember is how it felt, and I still feel it now.
After my weekend in 2009, I joined a circle of women locally. We meet once a month, and it’s my chance to reconnect with what I learned. Life has a habit of getting in the way of being a perfect human being, and I hope it never stops challenging me. The women in my circle listen without judging me, give me their full attention, and ask me what I need from them. I let them see all of me, when I need them to - warts and all.
The next Woman Within Training Weekend is 28-30 October 2011, at Juniper Hall in Dorking. You can get more information at www.transitionseurope.com. If you would like to talk to someone about the weekend, or have some questions, you’ll find contact details on the site.