The Real Reason Why Women Are Not Asking For Help
A few weeks ago, I experienced a devastating event. We had a significant death in the family – not that there are insignificant deaths – but this particular death was deeply deconstructing on many levels. And in this blog post, I’d like to share the takeaways that you can perhaps start applying in your life.
When we learned about the event, I was, of course, in shock, but somehow I was also in delusion; that I would be able to carry on working.
I would tell myself: Okay, I won’t work as much, but I’ll carry on because, you know, I have to.
I would show up for an hour, and then I would crash out and Netflix for two. I would then repeat this cycle: scrape myself together, blob myself at the computer for an hour and then collapse again for two. That was all I had the capacity for as I was also holding capacity, or holding space, for my daughter’s grief.
I was also trying to increase her capacity with my nervous system. This was a very intense week.
In the second week, we were deep in our grief, and because we were, some shifts began to happen.
I shifted to having more capacity and more energy. In addition to this, my prison guards reminded me: You must show up for your people. They need you. Everything will fall apart if you don’t show up.
So I dragged myself to work, and I really tried to show up. But this backfired. I could not be present for other people’s emotions and needs because I wasn’t able to be present for my own.
From then on, it became apparent that the only way to resolve this was to go deeper and to feel the emotions. This was scary because my belief was one of the prison guards telling me that if I allowed myself to feel it, I would fall apart like Humpty Dumpty.
So I fought it.
Thankfully I had my partner who could hold some space for me and skillfully so. He also works with trauma – we work and teach together – and this comes in handy when we’re working in our own labs.
Because my partner was holding space for me and felt safe, I trusted this invitation and let go. I allowed myself to fall apart. I also allowed nature to hold space for me, and that was deeply meaningful.
And do you know what? The exact opposite thing happened to what I was expecting and what I was fearing. Instead of falling apart like Humpty Dumpty, I actually increased my capacity. I connected more deeply with myself and with others.
Capacity opened up, and joy and vitality started coming in. This was a very unexpected outcome.
So we cannot have capacity for anybody else unless we tend to what’s present for us.
We can still keep on giving from near empty, and even a deficit for a long time, but it’s a much better ROI to do the work ourselves.
I recognize that it’s hard to go there without support; we need other people’s nervous systems to plug into in order to increase our capacity.
This is one reason, among many, to join us at The Thriving Experience – a virtual retreat on August 14 to 16, which is free to attend. You can learn more by going to thethrivingexperience.com.
We’re going to be plugging into the collective nervous system and increasing our capacity TOGETHER.
Another important thing that my compromised capacity has shown me is how far outside of my capacity I had been functioning for years. It was only when I lost pretty much all capacity and couldn’t physically function that I realized: I needed to delegate. I needed to start asking for help.
This was very challenging and confronting for me, as again, the PSD was telling me that I MUST be able to do it all by myself.
WHY? Have you ever thought about why?
WHY do we as women have this anti-dependent value?
Well, one of the great patriarchal strategies of domination is divide and conquer.
If we are convinced that it’s noble and right to handle everything by ourselves, then we’re no threat. But there’s only so much we can do by ourselves and eventually, sooner or later, we burn out.
The strength is in connection and in letting go. And that is also very hard because the PSD prison guards say: “No, but you must be able to handle it. You’re a strong woman. You must be able to do it.”
I’m calling this out for what it is: these are the tokens of conditional worth that we were taught to collect in order to survive in the patriarchy.
Honestly, this is garbage!
We don’t need tokens of conditional worth because we are unconditionally worthy. And our true power is in being able to collaborate, to connect, and support each other.
How powerful is that?
This, of course, requires us to heal all the wounds that make us feel ashamed and unhappy. We will not be able to accept support from others when these wounds remain operating in our system. We’re likely to stay in silos that don’t allow the support to come in. We’re likely to have this deep feeling that we are not worthy of support because, once again, our prison guards are reminding us: “We are strong women. We must be able to do it all by ourselves.”
If this resonates with you, then maybe you can start taking this into your life.
Maybe you can begin to realize that if you are operating above your capacity, perhaps there are some balls you can drop, and there is some HELP you can receive.
There’s an extreme example that my partner, Jeffrey, observed in his practice. One of the women he worked with broke her arm. She was a very high achieving woman and was very self-reliant. So she continued, somehow, doing everything (and then some) that she was doing before she broke her arm.
Then she broke her other arm!
I kid you not that happened.
And that was the wake-up call she needed to allow help to come in. To allow herself to receive help, she had to break BOTH arms.
My Wake-Up Call
My wake-up call was suffering death in my family.
Both of these examples are of very big wake-up calls. But perhaps we can wake up sooner. Maybe we can wake up in a more gentle way when we talk about it, and we ask ourselves and one another: Where’s your capacity at?
Start asking yourself, start measuring your capacity, start tapping into your capacity, and recognize that what’s taking up much of your capacity right now is not all yours.
It is the extreme stress and nervous system activation due to all of this intergenerational and collective trauma.
Our capacity is already very much compromised. We are also taking care of everybody, and with very little support, given this virtual living we find ourselves in. It has been an enormous learning curve for us all, and it’s been stressful. Even going to the grocery store has been extra stressful.
Measuring Your Capacity
So give yourself the grace of understanding, wait a minute, how can I be expected to function at the same level? And of course, patriarchy expects us to perform at the same level – not only externalized patriarchy but also internalized patriarchy – those same prison guards that I encountered, face to face, when I was negotiating my loss of capacity through grief.
And as this is becoming more visible, so things will become more possible. Things such as:
Measuring your capacity and
Knowing how to restore your capacity by exploring different ideas.
Will taking that extra hour of sleep restore my capacity?
Will taking an hour of alone time restore my capacity?
And yes, you can do it. Get creative and get this done. Maybe some ways will not be available to you, but other ways will be. Some things may not be possible, but others will be.
Don’t tell me that there is nothing you can do to start increasing your capacity. There is always something you can come up with. I guarantee it. Even cozying up with your favorite blanket or spending a few minutes breathing can help prop up your capacity so you can show up in your own life.
When our capacity is compromised, we are reinstating our boundaries through whatever means necessary. These are driven by fight-flight-freeze reactions:
We start stonewalling people,
We start attacking people, and
We start attacking ourselves.
So, there’s fight-flight-freeze energy running in our system, and that’s not the energy we want to resort to. Pretty much every health condition is correlated with stress and then the trauma that underlies it.
They’ve done studies that show a strong link between trauma and negative health and other life outcomes.
It doesn’t have to be this way because trauma is not a life sentence. It only is when we don’t pay attention to it and when we don’t heal it.
Now we’re living in this unique time when we’re that generation that holds the technologies to heal trauma, the scientific knowledge that helps us see the invisible wounds.
This Is How We Change The World
By increasing our capacity, we can heal our traumas, so we don’t pass them along to our children.
So we can also show up for:
Our heart’s desires,
Our desires for our own lives,
Our wishes for the world.
This all allows us to create a life designed by our desires. So that we can come in dialogue with one another across racial and gender divides.
Unfortunately, these are the divide and conquer strategies that every oppressive system has created and that we have deeply internalized. These oppressive systems have created deep trauma in us all. That is different for everyone but are traumas that need to be healed, so we can show up and be present for ourselves and one another.
We can have open conversations, be present with empathy, be present with big emotions, and without burning out – without going into fight-flight-freeze.
There is a better way and a more effective way, and that’s what is called upon now!
From Surviving to Thriving
I hope that this was helpful, and you will start seeing things differently, questioning things, and shifting things in your life.
I hope to see you at The Thriving Experience, August 14 to 16. We’ll be playing full out.
Our first experience was in May, and it was legendary. Check out the #TheThrivingExperience on Instagram. Follow me there, by the way, @drvalerierein.
I hope a lot more amazing breakthroughs, jailbreak moments, will come out of the conversations and our shared experience at The Deep Dive virtual retreat.
To register head on over to thethrivingexperience.com.
Please share with women you desire to bring along this journey of uncovering and healing intergenerational, collective, and personal trauma.
On this journey of recognizing there is nothing wrong with us. And on this journey of learning cutting edge tools to heal, restore, and end the cycle of trauma transmission – the transmission of oppression from one generation to another.
Can you think of a better investment of your time and energy than this work?
At thethrivingexperience.com, you can check out some testimonials and shares that happened from our past virtual experience. We didn’t know what was possible in a three-day virtual experience with women from all over the world… As it turns out, amazing things are possible!
Remember, this event is free to attend, and when you register, you will receive a virtual goodie bag. This goodie bag will be filled with practices that you can start applying right now to regulate your nervous system and to start shifting from surviving to thriving.
So please show up, bring others and let’s be the change. Let’s embody the change that we want to see in the world.
You can also register for The Thriving Experience directly by clicking here.
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