Updated: Aug 24, 2020
I’m overjoyed to share that the women’s empowerment group I’ve been dreaming of for a long time will soon be a reality! Starting in late August, I will be leading the group with my friend and colleague LPC Jesie Steffes, who you may know from many of my weekly “River Bend Therapy Chats” on Instagram Live. Women’s empowerment is something we are both so passionate about, and we’re eager to make this group a space of acceptance, growth, and mutual support!
But before we get into the when, where, and how of the group (more on that below!) let’s talk about what and why. What does it mean to be an empowered woman? And why does it matter?
When I say "women’s empowerment" what images or emotions does that phrase evoke for you? Are you hungry for it? Do you feel it in your bones? Does it make you bristle or squirm? Does it feel like a fantasy? Is it tainted by politics or opinion? Does it feel like a condemnation of your current situation? Noticing your reaction is a great place to start breaking down the barriers that contribute to feeling stuck or unsatisfied in your life.
When I hear that phrase, what comes to mind is a woman who has created the life she wants, based on her values and goals. She knows that her voice and opinions matter, and firmly believes that she has a right to stand her sacred ground and take up space in this world. As I’ve talked about before on the blog, empowerment will look different for each woman. For you, maybe it looks like:
→ Finding joy and meaning in being the primary caregiver in your family, and owning that role without shame.
→ Embracing your life without a partner or spouse because that is what you want for yourself.
→ Doing inner work to uncover your true ideas and passions, rather than letting them be shaped by your partner, family, or friends.
→ Finding your voice and using it in your relationships to share your true self and create deeper intimacy.
→ Leaving or ending a job relationship that is not satisfying or healthy for you.
→ Trusting and accepting your body as it is, even if that’s not how a partner, family member, friend, or society wants it to be.
A therapist I admire, Dr. Julie Hanks, said recently, “A woman who heals herself, heals her mother, her daughter, heals every woman around her.” This resonated with me on a deeply personal level because watching other women heal themselves and listening to their stories has set me free. My relationships with other empowered women made me question the things that I thought I had to do and the person I thought I had to be, which ultimately allowed me to break the chains of “should” and “must” that held me for so long. That’s why women’s empowerment matters so much, and what Jesie and I hope to accomplish through this group: By empowering yourself, you’ll lead the way for other women in your life to do the same.
But empowerment isn’t easy, hence why we’re starting this group! We won’t be giving you a “how to be empowered” template, but teaching you instead to discover what empowered you looks like. Over 10 weeks, we’ll tackle many topics together in the group, and I’ll be highlighting some of them here and on social media in the coming days. The first one I want to dive into is, in my opinion, at the heart of female empowerment: How to champion rather than police other women.
To empower ourselves and each other, we have to confront the harsh reality that we have been taught by society to keep other women “in check.” This behavior is so deeply ingrained in most of us that we likely don’t notice we’re doing it. It can look like gossiping about, judging, shaming, or controlling other women for, among other things:
→ Wearing clothes that are too modest, or too revealing, or do not conform in some way to our ideas of how a woman “should look.”
→ Having a larger body, or one that doesn’t fit White standards of beauty.
→ Approaching food, nutrition, and exercise differently.
→ Having casual sexual or intimate relationships.
→ Parenting her children or relating to her partner differently than you do.
Often, we engage in this behavior when we feel that the way another woman is living her life is a threat to our own. But empowerment is an unlimited pie; because someone has taken a slice doesn’t mean our share is in any way threatened. In the group, we’ll examine these patterns and learn how to champion each other instead of keeping each other in check. Championing the women in your life can look like, among other things:
→ Being compassionately curious, rather than judgmental, about their choices.
→ Learning about what they need to feel healthy in their bodies.
→ Supporting their goals and celebrating their successes.
→ Embracing the choices they make about relationships, family, and career.
This champion mindset doesn’t mean that you have to pretend you’d make the choices other women make or that there aren’t differences between the way you live your lives. It simply means that you trust that they’re making choices that allow them to be their most authentic selves, and you support them as they stand in their sacred ground.
Our group is for anyone who identifies as a woman, and will start on August 25th and run for 10 weeks, every Tuesday from 6:00-7:30 p.m. MT. We’ll cover topics like body image and beauty, sexuality and intimacy, and how we define ourselves outside of the roles we inhabit. It costs $60 per week, with discounts available for paying in full, and we encourage you to reach out as soon as possible if you’re interested since space is limited. Feel free to email me or reach out on Facebook or Instagram if you have any questions! Jesie and I are looking forward to helping you learn to stand your sacred ground.