Have you ever had an instance when you, your needs, your complaints, or your observations weren't taken seriously?
Yeah, me, too.
As a woman, it feels damn near impossible to be heard sometimes. It's often easier to be dismissive of our own misgivings, or to second guess what we know to be true in our own bodies and experiences.
I am constantly besieged with Impostor Syndrome. I feel like an impostor in my own life. Insecurity creeps in and erodes my sense of purpose, undercutting my inherent sense of worth, without my conscious understanding of what is happening.
So, how do we flip the switch when we stop taking ourselves seriously? How do we call our power back? I don't think there are simple answers, but I think we can make steps towards fully inhabiting the life we committed to, or want to commit to.
1. Believe what you say.
Do you have those moments when you say something and you are dismissed or disbelieved? Those are the easiest moments to lose your sense of self. It's also a great opening for gaslighting to occur. Believe yourself, even when others are dismissive. Their belief or validation of you does not make your truth any truer, nor does their disbelief invalidate you.
2. Become your own advocate.
There is a thing that happens when we are confronted by authority figures. Women are especially vulnerable here. We are often told that we are overstating or over-dramatizing a situation. (This happens all too often in medical situations, especially.) It's up to you to advocate for yourself. Calmly and firmly request what you need. Continue to ask and be persistent. Will you be perceived as annoying? Maybe. Does it matter? Absolutely not.
3. Awaken your own mama bear.
It's okay if you don't want kids or don't have them. You still have a mama bear inside of you. The primal, instinctual, fuck-off powerful being that is willing to fight for the most vulnerable life you have. You can awaken your roaring mama bear in service to YOURSELF. You can approach situations where you are not being taken seriously with ferocity and boldness. You are worthy of awakening that primal, beautiful instinct.
4. Understand the difference between confidence and ego, and stand firm in Camp Confidence.
I have an exercise that I have done with my son since he was pretty tiny. Whenever he tries a new physical skill, I ask him: "Does that feel safe in your body?" The more I asked him, the more he came to understand the question and check in with his body about how it felt. He now knows his limits after pushing them, failing, succeeding, and learning. When it comes to his own physical capabilities, he is hands down the most confident kid I know because he's aware. He's not trying to prove anything to anyone. He is entirely tuned into his body, and there is a natural confidence that occurs when he is trying new things.
You can do this, too. Check in with your body, your spirit, your intuition. Ego will lie to you. Confidence will be a building block for you to step forward without fear, regardless of how it all unfolds.
5. Surround yourself with truth-tellers.
I have a handful of friends who love me no matter what. I also know they believe me, no matter what. When I start to lose my confidence or stop taking myself seriously, I touch base with them. They remind me in the best ways that I am being ridiculous and the inability to take myself seriously only gives others license to do so as well. They give me kind and empowering words for myself. They help me reconnect to what I know is true: That I am capable and worthy of being taken seriously. Find those people in your own life to reaffirm the truth to you, too. Find the people who believe you.
You are working hard at this life thing, and you deserve to be taken seriously. And spoiler alert: You absolutely have to take yourself seriously before anyone else will. Practice it. Make it work for you. You are capable and believable.