I went overseas for the month of March to spend time with my family in England and Ireland, and whilst I was there, spent a lot of my time with my female relations and friends, and as I did so, I heard a running theme which I hear so often today, and it saddened me more than I cared to admit.
What I heard was how often no matter how successful, productive, gorgeous, loving, inspiring the women were, all of them mentioned how they felt as I described above. Unseen, unappreciated and undervalued. By their partners, children, family members, colleagues, employers etc.
It reminded me in my work of how often I hear women in the corporate world tell me how their managers should simply see their brilliance, appreciate how ridiculously hard they work, and just give them the damn pay rise they deserve without having to ask.
My answer in the past has been, that as a manager and senior manager, it was very rare I had anyone in my team who didn’t behave in the manner above, and unless they came and asked for what they wanted – be that a pay rise, a promotion or opportunity – the likelihood is my belief was they would be looked after through the company’s numerous remuneration policies and practices. The philosophy behind this was if you wanted more, you would ask. As I often had done and as my many male colleagues did too.
What struck me this time round wasn’t an abandonment of the above principle of asking for what you want (always a must & there are ways to do this so you get what you want), but more a subtle distinction of what the women wanted for themselves, which was to be seen, appreciated and valued, and then this experienced outside of themselves. Yet, when I asked the women how they were seeing, appreciating and valuing themselves, what I got was blank faces or sometimes, hostile faces. Just another thing they were supposed to do!
My question was not meant to be one which implied they ought to stop asking for these things outside themselves. It was meant to simply ask whether they saw themselves in the way they wanted to be seen. If they did, it might place them in a better space then to ask for the appreciation and value (& maybe help) they wanted to feel and experience from the people in their lives.
In every aspect of our lives, we play a part and we have many reasons for how we play these parts. There are many forces that govern and determine who we choose to be and how we choose to live, and the ones I believe are the most critical in all of these are – our own perception of who we are, what we choose and what we want to experience in our lives.
It’s very hard to ask for something we ourselves are not experiencing or owning within us, because when we do so, it simply pushes it away. It is repelled away from us. This has been a big lesson for me, believe me!
In my life I have come to learn after years and years of personal development (& heck, the journey never ends!) that if I want to experience something which I’m not yet experiencing, and which I want to experience outside of myself too, then I must find a way of:
Firstly, feeling the feelings of what I choose within me, whatever it takes i.e. What makes me feel seen, inside? What makes me feel appreciated, inside? What makes me feel valued, inside?
Secondly, having strong clarity of what this looks like by writing down specifically what it takes for me to feel those feelings. Breaking it down this way can reap wonders as you might uncover what’s really going on with you.
Thirdly, acknowledging my being okay with needing and wanting to feel these feelings not only within me, but also outside of me, i.e. as self-sufficient as I may be, I want to experience the external recognition of these feelings too from other people.
Fourthly and finally, finding a way of articulating what I need and want in a way the other party has no option but to give me what I want.
The last one is key when it comes to your professional life and it’s my passion, and I believe my purpose to help women be and do this throughout their careers and lives.
The above technique is a simple way of beginning to diminish the pain we sometimes feel when, especially as powerful, feminine women, we feel horribly unseen, unappreciated and undervalued. Our strong feminine core is about how we relate to one and another, and many women live models of such giving, but not much receiving that eventually when we finally feel the imbalance and want more than anything else to feel all those things, we’ve already reached the end of our tether and the last thing we want is to be looking at in at ourselves.
It might be the last thing you want, but you could make it the first thing you turn to. There, from a place of power and love for yourself, you can ask for what you want from the people in your life.
Gratitude, appreciation, recognition, a pay rise. Whatever you want. You choose. It’s yours.