• Sandy Reynolds

Are you ready for a challenge?

It's not until March 8th, but I want to wish you a Happy International Woman’s Day! I think this year’s theme of Choose to Challenge is quite fitting given our current reality. It's an idea I've grown into in my life.

I’ve been writing a difficult chapter in my book. It is focused on a period of time when I made choices that weren’t aligned with my values. I chose to avoid conflict, and I chose to please-people rather than challenge and confront toxic systems. I chose to protect my position rather than to speak up about what I saw around me.

Sadly, much of what I tolerated was the way women were treated or viewed. Like many women, I have internalized messages about what it means to be a woman. I am glad I know better now, and I can do better. As women who want to live soul-centered lives, we know that we can choose to challenge the messages around us about what it means to be a woman. It’s never too late to start aligning your life with what you believe. Don’t let your discomfort hold you back. It is most likely a sign you are stretching outside your comfort zone - and that’s when you grow.

The way I choose to challenge in my life follows a general pattern. I become aware of a message or value at work in my life that is not congruent with who I am. Every once in a while, I find that I start to see something that I have thought of as normal or acceptable in a different light. It can be an ‘aha’ moment in my life. At other times, I have been pushed beyond my level of tolerance around a certain behaviour. Sometimes it happens through reading a book. It may be something I was aware of in the past, but now I SEE it clearly.

An example for me this year was becoming aware of how white supremacy was a part of my life - no matter how often I claimed I wasn’t racist. I do love the word ‘woke’ because it captures what happens so well for me. It is like I suddenly wake up and see something for what it is!

Once I’ve seen - it is impossible to unsee. I start to explore how that message has impacted my thinking. I also start to see the prevalence of it around me. I recently watched Framing Britney Spears, a documentary that explored, in part, how young women are treated in the entertainment industry. It’s appalling, and many of us have just accepted questions aimed at women about weight, sexuality, relationships, clothing, etc. Watching this documentary made me pause and think about the messages that I have internalized. We still have a long way to go as women. Once I started to see how I had been impacted as a woman by patriarchy, I was shocked. How had I been silent in the past? How did I think it was OK?

The next part of the process is to start to challenge the message. For me, that looked like educating myself about racism and admitting where I had failed. I also stopped supporting organizations that are not working towards equality. I have started to speak up about my own experiences. I don’t worry as much about rocking the boat or upsetting people with what I say or do. I care more about whether or not I am speaking and living in a way that reflects what I really believe.

The majority of my readers are women. Email me if you need help sorting out your values and/or dealing with people-pleasing in your life. I would be happy to set up a coaching call to support you in this important work. Here’s the truth - change happens when we choose to challenge the systems that have oppressed us. And that is going to be uncomfortable.