Today is International Womens’ Day and I’ve been reflecting on the many things that one could say about womanhood, or about men-and-women at this moment in history. There is so much to be said about the powerful feminine archetypes that are now working through our society (both light and shadow aspects). Yet I’m going to speak to something simpler that has struck me over the past few days as I look at the gift of the women in my life – clients, colleagues, friends and mentors. And that is how much we as women reach out to each other and take the risk to share – our fears, our concerns, our hopes, and our love – and most bravely of all, our creativity, originality, and power.
Personal sharing is something that I observe to happen more easily among women (on average) than men. Women tend towards the communal, the ‘other’, in supporting, nurturing and helping grow. Sharing is of course not unique to women. Our virtue, in being fully human, must always draw on both the masculine and feminine currents, and by the end of a life-time we are blessed if we have managed to more fully integrate both aspects of our beings – in our inner spaces, and in our outer lives. Men of course share in these gifts, but do so better when they are less afraid of their need for nurturance and more able to allow their feminine aspect. It is more common for women to congregate and share what is deeply personal; to share their fears, dreams and healings towards a richer life. Women are typically more open to seeking such connection and fostering a communal pooling of self-development resources. And because the personal is also (a part of) the political – such sharing has global impacts. Just look at the power inherent in the Womens’ March of 2017 and the empowerment that is welling up as more and more women have supported each other to ‘speak openly’ and have the courage to insist on a more just and virtuous society. (Such a ‘stepping up’ in how we mange our roles as men and women would be a blessing to us all and in no way needs to devolve into something anti-masculine). I think until now, many women have been afraid to share their power – for power, when perceived as a threat can have repercussions. But as women increasingly come together to share their power and to stand in strength, that power can be multiplied as a force for good.
Indeed, women may see sharing as such an obvious thing to do that it is hard to step back and really consider how much of a gift it is in this world. Certain philosophers have reflected throughout time that the sharing of knowledge, of love, of truth – is the highest form of service we can offer in life. A life fulfilled not so much in ‘achieving’ as in sharing. It puts the emphasis very much more on our connections as a whole humanity, than does the more individualistic notion of what a successful life might be. In thinking on the most healing and encouraging moments of the past few days, I realise they all involve the vulnerability and courage of personal sharing.
Women carry the Earth archetype, the archetype of soil, gestation and generativity. The place where all things come together to create something new. Could anything be more generous or creative than sharing?
Every single woman I have interacted with in the past few days has given me a pearl of wisdom. Every single one of those encounters has nourished my thoughts, imagination and creativity. Some of those women were seeking support and some of those women were lending me support. In truth, when they come from a place of genuine vulnerability and sincerity, we can’t do one without the other. Every single one has helped me to feel more connected and to remember that wondrous big cosmic picture that sits far beyond my own ‘humble life’. And each single sharing has helped me to feel more of substance and that I too can be of service in some small way. I must say, that I have also had such interactions with men – men who are confident enough to embrace their feminine self and be generous in their own giving and receiving and allowing of vulnerability. Indeed sharing is what dissolves our private fears and shames.
If there is not enough sharing in your life, take courage and see where you might start to reach out a little, even in small ways. Honestly and openly asking for help is a type of sharing. Sharing something that is real or that matters to you on social media is a type of sharing (and do not underestimate the capacity for genuine intimacy and connection that social media can offer). If you’re feeling really bold, find a group to join to help you unfold more deeply. Or find a group in which to learn and share your knowledge on something that speaks to your soul. Each of these simple acts form real connections and they are transformative in ways that cannot be fully understood in a linear sense. Understanding the impact of sharing requires big-picture, long-term thinking – and truly, this world will only be saved if we can start to reconnect with each other in the smallest and humblest of ways.
In sharing we give each other courage and true security.
With hope that we women and men can come to share in each others’ gifts more and more, and increasingly embody that wonderful admixture of strong, sacred feminine and tender, noble masculine.