Tag Archives: Gloria Steinem

What comes after #metoo?

metoo

Alyssa Milano’s suggestion that all women who wanted to show how widespread sexual harassment, sexual assault and abuse are use the #metoo hashtag has gone viral with variations being taken up in other languages.

Some find it empowering, some infuriating. Some simply have used the hashtag (personally, I didn’t go over my stories – I didn’t take all of them to therapy but I did enough work on it to know that, for me, it wouldn’t have been helpful to dredge things up to an even greater extent again this week) while others have pulled no punches in detailing the examples.

Some have seen their perpetrators charged, tried and jailed.

Some have never told a soul until now.

And some men (notably, the wonderful Terry Crews from Brooklyn Nine-Nine) have spoken up about times it’s happened to them. And the fact that it happened to HIM, in front of his WIFE, shows that even with people who stop thinking of women as sex objects and instead like The Rock (click HERE for the brilliant, Rock endorsed advice), size, strength and power doesn’t ensure safety.

When the sky turned an eerie yellow and the sun red on Monday afternoon, I imagined, for a few seconds, that it was the result of so many women’s rage. That our combined anger and rising to say ENOUGH had literally shaken up the world, changing the colour of the sky.

Reading story after story emerge, my emotions rollercoaster in a way they’ve been rollercoastering since 45* announced his candidacy for the Presidency. Sometimes, I feel jaded like nothing can surprise me. Other times, the outrage rises again. Sometimes, this feels empowering. Other times, I feel exhausted by it all.

On the Tube today, seeing  a strange (to me) man glancing at the new report I was reading in the paper, I wanted to ASK him, What do YOU think about all of this? What will YOU do differently, as a man, to help ensure more women and girls are safe if you witness dodgyness? Obviously, I didn’t. I realised also that while I was raging (again) reading it, my face was in normal Tube Face mode and no one would have known about the turbulence I was feeling.

I don’t imagine I’m the only one. So I thought I’d share some thoughts in hopes some of them may help you:

  1. If you’re a man, please pause and bracket your feelings about how the revelations make you feel and ask the women in your life what, if anything, THEY want you to do to support them. The whole ‘What women want’ thing is as ludicrous as trying to define ‘What men want’ as if we were one homogenous group of people who all think and feel the same. Just like you, we’re whole people. My favourite definition of feminism, from Gloria Steinem, is simply this, thinking of women as whole people TOO
  2. If you chose not to #metoo, honour your decision to do what’s right for you. ALWAYS do what feels best for you
  3. If you shared your stories, BE SUPER GENTLE WITH YOURSELF. It’s a brave thing to do. Brene Brown’s work around shame and vulnerability teaches us that when we share our vulnerabilities with people who can hold and support us, we can avoid shame spiralling. The internet is a phenomenal tool for putting us in touch with support we could never have known about before. It can also be used to hurt people. Block people as necessary. Turn off comments if need be. Honour what is right for you
  4. Let your loved ones know what support you need. This isn’t the end of it. More and more high profile cases are coming to light and hard as it can feel to stomach the brutality and injustice, there’s a power in truth coming to light. Again, quoting the glorious Gloria Steinem, ‘The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off’
  5. Keep reminding yourself that you are safe now. You survived. You are so much more that what has been done to you.
  6. Notice what you feel in your body. Pay attention to how you want to move your body, maybe miming fighting back or lashing out many years or even decades later (it may sound silly but so much trauma gets trapped in our bodies, it’s amazing the difference listening, tracking and moving can make – read Peter Levine’s Waking the Tiger and Babette Rothchild for more if you’re interested). You may want to mime punching or kicking or screaming or any of the things you were unable to do as you did whatever you needed to do in the actual moment/s
  7. You may simply want to stamp your feet and scream and shout – let it out of your body. If this feels like too much, a walk or, better yet, a good run or energetic swim or push ups or any thing physical which honours the body’s natural fight/flight instinct.
  8. You may want to take up kick boxing or something similar. Lifting weights, becoming more powerful physically can be healing. Maybe dancing it out is more your style. Go to a class or even draw the curtains and go wild in your living room
  9. Drag out your mini trampoline if you have one and JUMP it out. Stamping feet can feel scary or too silly for some but with a rebounder, you can get similar effects
  10. Write a letter to the perpetrators you couldn’t protect yourself from. This is not to send but to get it all out. Burn it and maybe decide if there IS anything you want to say or do in reality (pressing charges etc). Again, whatever you decide, YOU KNOW WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU.
  11. Journal the full spectrum of emotion as and when it feels helpful (if that feels too permanent, use looseleaf paper and burn it safely afterwards or even loo roll and flush it)
  12. Think about a time or imagine a time you felt happy, contented and at ease. Really comfortable in your own skin. It might be a moment from a holiday, from years ago or it might be something completely imaginary – when I was first asked to do this many years ago, I cried because I couldn’t imagine feeling so happily embodied and at ease in my own skin. I started out by imagining myself floating in the sea, far away from people. While I still adore the sea (in real life, too), I’ve built up a comprehensive mental library of happy places to imagine – time giving your brain a break from the horrors of the news / intrusive thoughts not only feels nice but has an impact on our physiology, reducing stress and boosting performance
  13. Woman or man, get whatever support you need and deserve – no one is broken beyond repair. Find a good therapist and/or support group. We can use the rage to heal and make the world a safer place for everyone.

What helps you? Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

* Self-confessed sexual predator and white supremacist President of the US – since Lawrence Fishburne calmly called him 45 on The Daily Show many months ago, I’ve found that this simple number helps take some of the heat out of the pain and disbelief I’ve felt since enough people disregarded his recorded boasts of sexual assault and voted for him anyway

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Stronger in the broken places – Feeling like garbage? You don’t need to try to fix everything yourself

sunlighttrees

‘We’re not meant to be perfect. We’re meant to be whole’ Jane Fonda

When I heard Jane Fonda on Oprah (catching up yesterday), I was able to see how much more whole I’ve become since I heard her speak at a VDay conference in New York when I first went self-employed in 2004. She, Eve Ensler, Gloria Steinem and Sally Field were at the first press conference I attended as a freelance journalist.

Since then, all my work (my journalism, coaching, complementary therapies and now counselling and yoga therapy for mental health) has been about healing and wellbeing. Even so, there’ve been many times when I thought wholeness was for other people and not for me.

When I began my psychosynthesis counselling training in 2008, I’d been coaching, NLPing and EFTing myself (as well as clients) for years, helping myself override an inherent sense of unworthiness and self-loathing. But when I wasn’t actively getting myself into a resourceful state, I felt pretty broken.

An early meditation during the psychosynthesis training brought to mind an image symbolising this sense of brokenness. I was literally buried, in a skip, under piles of rubbish bags. Although I’d known I’d have to delve into past traumas (you can read about my apprehension at the time about starting personal therapy in the Telegraph here) in this meditation, I felt powerless, like broken, discarded, unlovable garbage. Then I felt the bags of garbage being lifted off me.

Psychosynthesis is a holistic form of counselling, embracing the transpersonal. So as well as looking at people’s wounding, it looks at potential. During this meditation, I realised that, while I would have to work at it myself, surrendering and letting go of some of the ‘garbage’ that was burying me was also essential.

I sketched the image on a Post-It note and when life (apart from juggling work and life with study and revisiting painful parts of my past) felt particularly tough, I’d remember to surrender* what I couldn’t fix myself. (This didn’t come naturally to me and I even got a small tattoo as a reminder to myself that life is more peaceful and better when I remember to ask for guidance and let go of the things I can’t control).

All these years later, I am so much happier (even when I’m not consciously working at it) than I believed possible. I love that psychosynthesis includes (in addition to its roots in psychoanalytic psychotherapy) room for people’s spirit and guidance.

When I work with clients now and can see the pain they’re in and their fear that it will never end, I’m almost grateful for my own because I know from experience that, no matter how bad things seem, there’s a part of us that wants to heal and be better. By nurturing that part, we can flourish.

Click here if you’re interested in psychosynthesis counselling in Essex (or by telephone or Skype).

Metta xx

* surrender as (as Oprah said to Caroline Myss), ‘Doing all that you can do and when you’ve done everything that you can do, you surrender it and let it go to the power and energy that’s greater than yourself.’

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Finding personal peace in 2013 and beyond

????????????????????????????????????????????????????When I first went freelance in 2004, my plan was to write about some of the amazing activists I’d met and heard about. I’d been involved in the peace and women’s movements for years and was regularly overwhelmed and awed by people’s courage, intelligence and more. I figured even though I could never go to such places or do such things, I could at least help braver souls than me get the word out.

Looking back, the year before, I’d been depressed. If memory serves, I realised something was wrong when I could no longer hold in my tears until I was somewhere private or even just crying quietly at my desk but was openly weeping simply walking through the office each day. I couldn’t stop imagining the devastation caused by our bombs and policies in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere (my name’s Eve – I used to feel personally responsible for everything).

When I told my boss I thought I better see my GP, she looked beyond relieved. I was in complete denial about all my own stuff at the time but knew I felt hopeless about the world and my ability to impact it. Rather than wondering why I was so upset, I couldn’t understand how everyone else wasn’t. The doctor signed me off for a couple of weeks and prescribed medication I knew I would never even fill the prescription for – I knew that I needed to change my life rather than popping pills.

I’d already started training as a complementary therapist and coach and going freelance while setting these businesses up made me feel more hopeful. Naturally, it was MUCH harder setting up than I’d ever imagined (and totally worth all the struggle).

My first ever press conference was at a www.vday.org/ conference in New York with Eve Ensler, Sally Field, Jane Fonda and activists from Iraq, Afghanistan  and other places. (I couldn’t resist telling a startled Eve Ensler and Gloria Steinem that their writing had saved my life.) But, while I wrote about it for a couple of titles, mostly, the editors who were commissioning me wanted me to write about wellbeing.

Eight-plus years on (including a gazillion hours’ training in various wellbeing related disciplines and, of course, client hours later), I understand that world peace (feels embarrassing to type it but I DO still crave world peace) has to start with personal peace.

When we’re at war with ourselves, we’re cranky (angry, hostile or worse) with others. I know in my own life, when I’ve not been looking after myself, I’m that bit shorter with others. By taking responsibility for our own energy and doing the things that help us feel strong, centred, calm, loving and secure, we’re able to negotiate better with others even when things feel quite volatile.

So this new section of my blog will focus on some of the small but effective ways we can all (everything I write is still a reminder to myself to keep putting all this fantabulous stuff into practice in my own life) boost our personal peace.

We can all help make our own worlds and the whole world that bit more peaceful, kinder and more loving.

I hope you’ll enjoy it :)

Image courtesy of digitalart / freedigitalphotos.net

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