Two of my greatest teachers were my grandmothers. Both of them would tell me stories for hours about their families, how they grew up, and how they would spend their days when they were young. They were very different from one another but shared great wisdom about living life and staying connected to their sisters and their female friends. Both of them instilled in me many values about family time at meals and how their unique daily rituals gave each of them a sense of calmness and rhythm in life that I rarely see in women anymore.
In today’s fast-paced world, women are the ultimate superheroes who balance many different jobs throughout the day. These women look and behave nothing like my grandmothers or yours. They run from work to appointments, to the gym, to the store, care for their children, and barely take a breath while tackling in one day what most women did in a week just a few generations ago.
Women today are stressed out, have too much on their plate and are starved of nourishment for their bodies and souls. Working women are expected to play on the same game board of masculine energy while not using their ultimate power of feminine energy (as qualities like intuition and sensitivity are still often frowned upon in the workplace). Yet, it is these same special qualities that help women feel the world around them, traits that have been hard-wired in females for millennia to keep us safe from danger and harm.
Professional women suffer physically by sealing off their feminine energy to compete in the traditional male work world. When women do not honor their female energy, suppressing their gentle and caring undersides, a huge imbalance takes place.
When we behave with too much masculine energy, it ultimately sucks our life force out leaving us physically, emotionally, and spiritually deprived.
In one of my first jobs, I reported to a woman who was about the age I am today. She was very successful, yet she communicated like, looked like, and had the overall energy of a man. Due to the intense work environment, this woman had to adjust her persona to thrive in a predominantly male industry. Working with her was a challenge and I felt drained every day I had to go into work. So I was beyond ecstatic when she was replaced by another woman who was one of the best leaders I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Although she was my superior, she was warm, a great teacher, and engaged well with the team. This manager used her feminine power of receptivity, warmth, and intuition to create the best possible work environment.
How many of you have been in the position where you’ve had two very different experiences in the same job with female superiors?
Even though it was the same job, I performed and felt differently when I had a boss that used her feminine energy to lead.
Women are wired to be with each other. We handle stress better being in the company of other women and actually create hormones that relax us when we do. This regular bonding was critical in a tribe of multi-generational women. Older women and grandmothers were especially revered for their wisdom and guidance for the entire group of women. It is this community of women that collectively raised children and tended to each other in ways that our society today is severely lacking.
Today’s women are isolated by competition from working in a patriarchal system. That, coupled with the fact that we have less time with our female friends and sisters, has diminished the natural feminine energy that makes us thrive as a gender and keeps us physically and emotionally well.
So how do we look to the past to make us stronger women today?
FEMALE WISDOM —
Spend time with your grandmothers and older female relatives as they are the true wisdom keepers. Our grandmothers and the elderly population have a lot to teach us about the way life was lead and how people connected before we were alive. Connect with friends and make it a habit to visit with them regularly. Although we can’t live in communal groups like we did in the past, regular visits, even if they are quick, can make a huge difference in your day. If you can’t actually visit, pick up the phone and call. Texting doesn’t replace or elicit the same physiological response as hearing someone’s voice. “Tending and befriending” women creates the “feel good” hormone, oxytocin, helping to reduce the stress hormone, cortisol. There is a reason why we see so many groups of young women lining up for hours to get a cupcake or dessert — they are doing what our ancestors did as they communed for a special activity or celebration!
Use rituals every day. It’s often said that rituals are habits made holy. Habits, when done in a repeated and mindful way, become rituals. This can be as simple as the way you wash your face at night. Even if you are present in those few minutes it will have a deep and profound physical and emotional effect on your body. Self-care is one of the ways to bring forth your feminine energy and nurture yourself. Having rituals with other women, whether through book reading clubs, women’s circles, or other women’s organizations is a healthy way to nurture those friendships. You will be able to truly thrive when you find a group of women or friends that you can emotionally tap into.
EXPLORE NATURE —
Sadly, we are often sealed in our living or work arrangements, removed from the outdoors. We have lost our connection to nature. Little things like being outside for a walk or just taking a few moments of your day to be out in the sunlight can make a big difference. Our ancestors lived in harmony with nature, waking to the rising sun and turning inward with the setting sun. The women who came before us were synched into the moon cycles, the stars, and the subtle energy of nature. If you can’t get out in nature, try having fresh flowers or plants in both your home and work environment to bring nature inside. Try to connect with the light and outdoors as much as possible. Our brains thrive with exposure to natural light and make both serotonin and melatonin, two powerful hormones that regulate sleep cycles and mood.
Becoming a mentor for another female is an incredible act of selflessness and can be empowering at the same time. Teaching a younger woman and sharing your wisdom, skills, and knowledge creates a new generation of women stronger than the generation before. Even one weekend a month of extending your hand out to another woman can help her gain confidence. It empowers her with life skills beyond any classroom.
Women are born healers, and together, using our feminine powers, we can raise consciousness and change the world. We cannot do it alone, but instead, should rely on the use of traditions, rituals, and connections to other women present and past to create a better future for all of womankind.
Dr. Elizabeth Trattner is a Doctor of Chinese and Integrative Medicine and an Acupuncturist. For more information about Elizabeth, visit elizabethtrattner.com or find her on Instagram at @dreliztratts, Facebook at @drelizabethtrattner, and Twitter at @acumom.