It is common to hear that in comparison to men, women lack confidence and therefore seek more validation. I’ve never believed this was a natural trait of women but a product of our conditioning. As we grow from girls into women that conditioning is continuously reinforced so throughout our adulthood we continue to seek external validation.
As children, both men and women are taught to meet someone else’s expectations and in return earn praise. But as boys move to manhood, they naturally move to being more autonomous. Their view the world and what they want to do is more important to them than how other people view the world and what other people want them to do. This gives men a better sense of self and self-determination. It is why they seem more confident.
Women don’t seem to inherently make this same transition to independence of thought. We remain more aware of others than men do. This awareness is a very powerful female traits but it is misapplied and exploited by societies. This exploitation teaches women to elevate the thoughts, opinions and ideas of others and subjugate our own. This is why women seem less confident.
Men believe their individual thoughts and ideas are the whole of thoughts and ideas.
Women recognize that our individual thoughts and ideas are one part of the whole.
Women are conditioned to believe other people “know better” so we diminish our individual thoughts and ideas as an inferior part of the whole.
Our conditioning tells us that in order to regain our full value, and confidence, we need external validation. Various groups within society are more than willing to tell women: “If you think, look and act within the parameters of this small box, that we defined, we will validate that you smart, beautiful and a good person.”
Women then listen to the ideas of various groups. We choose which group we want to join and which box we will fit conform to. By conforming to a box, we lose some or even all of our individuality.
As a woman who’s spent her entire adult life in male environments, I see the stark difference between how men and women are conditioned to be confident about who they are. I’ve heard all of the messages telling me to choose a box. Even worse, I’ve heard all the voices telling me which box I belong in.
But because I’ve worked around men and their thinking, I’ve developed a strong sense of self and tuned out those messages. I haven’t put myself into a box that doesn’t fit and isn’t Me. Instead I’ve developed my own responses to all the voices telling me who I should be:
Who are you that your opinion matters so much? Why would I put your opinion above my own opinions and experiences?
If you don’t validate me, why does that make me inferior? Doesn’t it just mean I am different from you?
Of course there is no shortage of people who want to convince us that they are smarter and wiser and know better. I’ve learned that many of the people (men and women) have a need to need to feel superior to others. They need others to look up to them in order to validate their own sense of worth.
Many others do it because women make up the vast majority of consumers. If they keep the validation cycle going they make a lot of $$$.
Women need to get wise to how others use us for their own purposes.
We need to break out of these cycles.
When we elevate other people’s opinions above our own, we disempower ourselves. We don’t voice our ideas, thoughts and opinions. We don’t express who we are. We deny our value and our equality.
Women we need to take a lesson from men and have a stronger sense of self. This doesn’t mean we ignore other people and their ideas. It means we think highly enough of ourselves so we are a full and equal participant in our family, team, workplace, community and society.
When we step outside the box that confines us, we find a big world of ideas, concepts and thoughts.
For many women going outside the box is scary. Boxes have well defined and validated boundaries that also provide us safety and security. However, the price we pay for that security is a denial of being our complete true selves and the personal fulfillment that comes with it.
When we explore outside the box we are exposed to lots of ideas, concepts and thoughts that we can evaluate. We can figure out if they fit into and add value to our life and who we are.
We find there are lots of “standard ideas.” Some fit into our lives. Some don’t.
We learn other people have unique ideas.
Some fit into our lives. Some don’t.
We learn we have unique ideas. Some fit into other people’s lives. Some don’t.
When we are willing to step outside the box, we can go on the lifelong journey of pulling all of this together and discovering the unique person we are. That person is so much more open, colorful and interesting than the person inside the box.
Outside the box the only validation we seek is from within ourselves. We validate that we are being true to ourselves. This truth becomes our source of genuine confidence.
When we live our lives as our unique selves, we also give other people permission to be their unique selves. We destroy the boxes that confine people, make people think small and let people diminish others.
Women have a unique opportunity to change the world by allowing everyone to be their full unique self. But first, each of us has to choose to get out of our box and be our true selves.
Empowered Women Validate They are Living as Their True Self
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