International Women's Day
THEME: This month, we celebrate women. We celebrate ourselves as unique and complicated individuals who juggle too many tasks and strive to keep up with some unnamed standard by which we often judge ourselves and each other. This month, we address "belonging." As it turns out, depression and anxiety is often induced by attempts to "fit in" versus belonging. “Be brave and bold, with a strong back and a soft front,” says Brené Brown, and practice the joy of acceptance and non-judgement towards others and yourself.
CHECK-IN: A friend of mine uses the date March 4th to identify something she wants to overcome, pass through, let go of that this is causing her grief or turmoil...March Forth! Take a moment to consider if there is something in your life right now you'd like to be done with or work through. Name it - without judgement. We will share.
(Optional) Did anybody try the positive pauses - little ways to be in the moment from February's tool kit?
MINDFUL PRACTICE: Equanimity
In mindfulness, practicing being in the moment helps build a mental muscle that most of us struggle with - equanimity. That is, to respond, not react. To not lean in too hard or desperately for things that are positive, nor to pull back or try to avoid things that are negative. This staying in the middle is not rigid; it's like riding a bike. It requires flexibility, being a little to one side and then the other in order to move forward.
Let's use our shared "march forth" word/situation.
Sit with it, feel it, notice it, breathe through it, accept it, release it. Notice.
Try not to ruminate on any particular thought or replay conversations. Don't worry about justifying how you feel. Just feel. Breathe.
Let yourself off the hook. Let others off the hook. Let the situation be what it is, and then like the breath, imagine it flowing out of you and dissipating.
When it bubbles back up - name the emotion, accept it and let it go with a breath.
Listen to these words and accept this:
At this moment I have nothing to defend. Breathe.
At this moment I have nothing to promote. Breathe.
At this moment I have nothing to fear. Breathe.
At this moment I am here now. Breathe.
Everything I need is within me, comes to me, flows through me. Breathe.
JOURNAL: Fitting In vs Belonging
Brené Brown is one of my favorite speakers, authors. Her book Braving the Wilderness speaks to the pain of not belonging. During her research, middle schoolers stated,“Fitting in is when you want to be a part of something. Belonging is when others want you.” A girl raised her hand, “You know, miss, it’s really hard not to fit in or belong at school, but not belonging at home is the worst.” According to Brené, with that, half the kids burst into tears or put their heads down, unable to speak.
She identifies true belonging as a spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to ourselves. True belonging never requires us to change who we are — but we must be willing to jeopardize connection with others. Forget fitting in, find belonging. Have a strong back, but a soft front. (How does our sense of belonging tie into how we as women judge or compete with each other?)
Think of a time when you tried to fit in but did not belong. What was your motivation? How did you feel? What were you giving up? Where do you belong?
SHARING: Let’s take some time to give a bit of background to our story, but not too long. It’s likely others will have a shared experience or feelings, but let’s refrain from dialogue. We want to hear each person out completely and give every woman time to share.
CLOSING: Notice when you feel you belong. Notice if you do things to make others feel they belong.