Women togetherness and empowerment at its finest
In celebration of the International Women’s Day, I facilitated an exclusive empowerment event to women in Luxembourg city at the beautiful member club House17. Because of the very multicultural community of Luxembourg, with expats from all over the world, I wanted to create a local space of connection and engagement, the feeling of being “home”. There were 16 of us in the room, covering 13 different nationalities. International is the word!
My intention with the workshop was to make each woman walk out of there feeling energized, happy, light, capable and way more than “enough”, and with a powerful feeling of belonging and togetherness. I specifically wanted to #PressForProgress on the point of breaking negative thought patterns that have become normalized in our daily self-talk, and instead celebrate our individual awesomeness, to dare to take some more space in this world, starting in our own life.
One of the women concluded the workshop with these words:
“Getting to know any woman is soul nurturing. Understanding more aspects of how women function makes it crystal clear:
they are great creatures. Women are treasures and they need to own that”.
The ONE thing
The first challenge for the participants was an invitation to capture their ONE thing that meant the most to them throughout the workshop. To be attentive and search for something that is of great value to them! A question, a thought, a piece of information that is shared – or an idea that they appreciate. One thing! And I asked them to write it down, so that they can apply it in their work or life – or perhaps share it with someone.
Change your thoughts to change your life
A foundation to our conversation, was the idea that we are only making use of a small part of our possible mental and physical capacity, and that we can all tap into previously un-accessed potential.
Research shows that our subconscious mind repeats up to 95% of our thoughts, over and over, day in and day out, week in, week out, month in, month out, and yes, for many of us – year after year, we think the same thoughts. And statistics show that 80% of those thoughts are mostly negative. It’s all part of how the human brain functions. We are constructed not to take any risks and we get physically uncomfortable when we must go through change. It’s “better” to keep doing what we did yesterday and we’ll be just fine.
The fact that our thoughts drive our feelings, and our feelings drive our behavior i.e. the actions we take – makes it VERY interesting to explore how much of our current thought patterns we can change, to actually have some control of those 95% of thoughts we systematically run on repeat. In short, if you can change your thoughts, you can change your life.
By breaking our current thought patterns, we can create new ways of thinking, create new results, create a better health, a happier life, a wealthier life, better relations and the sense of fulfillment instead of the very “popular” sense of frustration and unhappiness. Clearly, I don’t mean popular in the positive sense, but if we look at how many are unhappy today, one could think it’s à la mode.
Achieve anything you set your mind to
The SUCCESS you have created in your life so far, all the amazing things you have achieved, experienced, created and done, the things you are most proud of, you did that by using your brain “just” like you always have; repeating negative thoughts as its main activity. I have a question for you:
“What do you think could happen if you learned to use your brain in a more intentional and constructive way to create more of the results you’d REALLY like to have?”
The most common thoughts we think, over and over, day in and day out…
To give you a summary from a group of women representing different age, academic level, religion, culture and nationality, so I think it’s fair to say it’s pretty representative of women in general, in the workshop, we shared some of our most common thoughts. Perhaps you recognize some of them from your own thoughts?
“I hope I don’t get late; did I forget something; I don’t have enough time to do everything on my list today: oh my God I better not be late to pick up my kids; I have to lose some weight; I’m not good enough – and I never will be; I have to work harder; I have to do more sports; I want to be happier; I want to do more fulfilling work; I don’t like it here; I’m tired; I’m overwhelmed of mother duties; when will I have time for me; I’m not sure I can do this; I am fat; I am ugly; I’m not interesting enough – who will want to get to know me; my home is SO messy; I will never be able to buy the house I want, I will be an old poor person if I don’t start saving; my husband doesn’t help enough with X/Y/Z; I should do more at work; I’m running out of time; I feel guilty for not living closer to my parents; I need to be less hysterical and more calm with my kids; I’m exhausted; I would like to finish all my tasks at least ONE day; I’m always tired; what shall I cook today; what are we gonna eat today; I need to get in shape; I need to workout; I need to stop saying yes to everyone else.”
As you will probably agree, these are not thoughts that will boost our self-esteem, do miracles for our energy and immune system, or make our relationship and career blossom. I think we would all agree also that most of these thoughts are almost a complete waste of time. And yet, so many of us spend so much of our “thinking time” repeating these phrases over and over, day in, day out. It’s time for a change!
Break your self-talk and thought pattern
Here is an exercise we did, and you can do it to! Just grab a pen and paper, have a seat and do these five steps.
- What are some of the things you’re saying to yourself? Write three of the most negative out.
- How would you feel if you said one of these three phrases to a really good friend?
- Write how you would say that differently if it was to a friend.
- And, last but not least, write how you think you can say these three things in a more positive, constructive and supportive way to yourself.
- Repeat your new thoughts over and over, write them on post-its, read them out loud, until they become your new pattern!
This exercise can be VERY powerful. Especially if you actually DO it!
“It’s difficult to express a pain point, from a non-pain point.”
With that I mean, sometimes we are not conscious of our own self-talk. It’s become so normal we no longer react to it. And no change can ever take place unless we are first aware that a change can or needs to happen.
I want to share two of the negative self-talk statements that impacted both me and the participants profoundly during the workshop. The first one was a young entrepreneur and businesswoman who captured her most negative thought as “you’re not good enough, and you never will be”. I invited her to say that phrase to the woman sitting across the table, looking her straight in the eyes.
After a few seconds of silence, she said it. You’re not good enough, and you never will be. And then instantly added; I’m sorry, with both sincerity and pain in her eyes. I asked her “do you ask yourself for forgiveness each time you think it about yourself”? Of course, she does NOT. Only by saying it out loud to another woman, who had done nothing to deserve the unsolicited feedback, did the damage identify itself and it became crystal clear that this is not a thought we should have about ourselves.
The other statement I want to share is from a corporate leader, one of the women who’d probably be perceived as one of the most positive in the group, and who also believed about herself that she has a very positive mindset in general, including about herself. When it was her time to read out her most repeated negative thought about herself and say it to another woman; she couldn’t. What she had written on her paper was “you are a bad mother”. The tears mirrored the pain of the realization of what she’s telling herself every day. This beautiful, open and positive woman was almost shocked at how very harsh she was with herself, without even realizing it – until it was time to say those words to another woman. Perhaps, another mother, who does everything in her power – and more – to be and do everything she possibly can for her child, every day and every night, always. And then some.
What are you saying to yourself, that you would NEVER say to a friend? And why is it OK to keep saying this to yourself…?
Some of the greatest takeaways from the IWD2018 workshop:
To round off a wonderful and emotionally intense session, where complete strangers connected and shared their thoughts on life with full transparency, I asked everyone to share what they appreciated the most and what they will bring with them from our time together. This is some of it:
Do your market research! Never assume that you know what your client, your partner, your sister or other people you interact with want. If you are going to make them a priority, make sure you know what they want so you don’t waste time serving others in a way that drains your energy, might not even be what they want, and because you just don’t want them to get upset. At the very least, ask first, so you know what they want from you, if they want anything at all. Make YOU your priority! Like the flight attendant says; “put on your own oxygen mask first, before attending to your child or person sitting next to you”.
Change your thoughts and change your life!
I am enriched by the experiences of the other women in this room. As I sit here and listen, I realize I’m living through these women, and my life is better thanks to them.
It has been eye-opening to discovering that I have a very negative conviction of myself, to see that what I believed was a normal or good mindset, is actually very negative and not supporting myself in anything I want to experience or accomplish.
Don’t be so harsh on yourself, you are quite OK!
I’m definitely going to learn to catch the negative thoughts. And I will be repeating what you said: “I was made for this moment”.
“Be confident that you CAN”.
SWSWSWSW; Some Will, Some Won’t, So What, Someone’s Waiting. If you suffer from OPO (Other People’s Opinions), try and cure it with the SWSWSWSW: some will like you, some won’t, so what, someone’s waiting for YOU!
Learn to love yourself!
I loved what you shared, that 30% of people won’t like you anyway, no matter what you do, so – focus on the others, on those who DO like and appreciate you!
Seeing how nasty it feels to express your self-talk to another person, it must really be damaging on the inside. To say my limiting belief thought “you’re not good enough” to another woman, made me aware of how bad it is, and I never want to think it again!
I realize that it’s my own negativity that keeps me down. That’s not OK!
The best time to start is today!
I love being surrounded by women, the caring feeling of support, we all have something in common. This workshop was the perfect way to celebrate International Women’s Day!
It is clear that everyone I meet in workshops and through 1:1 coaching, independent of gender, religion, age or level of education, have challenges related to what they think about themselves; about their performance, their career, their leadership capacity, their relationship, their self-worth, their level of education, their worthiness, their lovability, their body, their “voice” and most of all, what other people think of them.
Remember, the most important person in your life, the only ONE person you are guaranteed to have a relationship with from your first day of life, to the very last day of your life, is YOU. Make sure you work really hard on this relationship. Make it a great partnership. Be supportive, loving and caring! Like motivational speaker Les Brown says; “you have greatness within”! I encourage you to find that greatness, seek it out, bring it out for the world to experience it and enjoy this life!
I will end with this BEAUTIFUL statement, the same as from the introduction because it sums up this workshop so perfectly:
“Getting to know any woman is soul nurturing. Understanding more aspects of how women function makes it crystal clear: they are great creatures. Women are treasures and they need to own that.”
Thank you to the sponsors!!!
To show my personal appreciation and bring a little extra to create a real feeling of celebration, I had been out and about on adventure to gather a lovely goodie-bag for the women. Any initial discomfort in going out and asking companies if they want to join me in the celebration and sponsor the event with a product or service was completely washed away after the first and second big “YES”. Special thanks to Mr. Troncin at La Durée and Sheelagh and Brendan O’Connor at HotBox Yoga for being so kind and very generous.
The ladies got a whole pile of lovely gifts covering everything to help entertain a healthy lifestyle, pampering the looks, enjoying something sweet and delicious, creating memories for those we love (which may and can be oneself) and nurturing the mind.
The gifts were amazing, the ladies were happy, and I am so grateful to all the sponsors. Thank you:
Be all you can be!