Of Pants and Petticoats….

img_4228

I’ve always been an advocate for women’s rights – perhaps I feel strongly about rights that women have not had on par with our male counterparts or perhaps it is just because I am a woman and I feel passionate about all things woman! If I was born a son to The-Source-of All-Wisdom (my mother), perhaps I would be an advocate of men’s rights! I’ve always worked towards creating products or places for women to call their own; tried to find ways for women to express themselves but its always been in niche areas.

Today things have changed for me and I work in a large corporate and head the smallest division of it which caters to women. The organization and its management have committed to building a brand especially for women, which is wonderful and timely; especially for the services we provide. All these years, my division had been the smallest tadpole in a large pond but today with this infusion of intent and focus, it stands to grow into a brand and business of its own right. In the last 8 odd months in this role, as I’ve come head to head with my male counterparts, their responses to me and what I’m trying to build has been somewhat fascinating 🙂

Its funny how men in corporates don’t quite know what to make of women with decision making power. Add to the fact that I’m a woman on the table (and might I add here that while I have no desire to be on this table, my work excites and motivates me enough to participate in corporate protocols!), I am also a single mother and with that come the host of questions as to how I GOT on that table. Did I sleep with anyone? Am I related to anyone? Is it because I happen to be young or ok looking? Very rarely have I come across someone putting it down to my capabilities or fitment to the job.

As a woman I have to work double time to perform, to prove myself and all this comes with the constant juggling act of balancing my personal life along with my professional one. And yet, nobody wonders how the man in the office next to me got the job. Nobody is watching him, waiting for him to slip up and fail.

As I move ahead with this sculpting this new business model trying to give it shape and a new reality; working alongside men who have been in this business for centuries, I realize that our success can only go as far as what has been accepted and known so far. While our top management are huge advocates to what we are creating; I’ve also found many naysayers who’s reactions to our progress are not in line with what they would be to their counterparts from other divisions; who are men.

I realize we must be doing a bloody good job if when I find my voice to speak up, I’m shot down with reminders on how small a fish my space is as compared to the others (we are only ‘put in our place’ when we are noticed!). When I get amused looks to my growing revenues because there is contentment that they are miniscule in comparison to other divisions. As I stand tall and speak just what any other business head would say to defend his zone and I get push back against the possibility of a women’s brand reaching a certain point; breaking certain boundaries. Why not flip it and look at this brand as one which will break bounds, bring a positive brand run to the organisation as a whole; why not nurture us and be a part of our first flight and then celebrate with us as we soar through all the unique and wonderful things we may achieve? We are ‘allowed’ to exist – but only so much, only so far.

Is it that social and corporate systems in our country will enable the progress of women just upto a point and then resort to gender bashing tactics to ensure we stay in ‘our place’ (this being that of the inferior gender of course)? So I wonder, are today’s men THIS threatened by women gaining visibility, because they fear they will be relegated to wearing ‘petticoats’ while we wear the pants?! Luckily for my organization, I’m equally comfortable in both Petticoats AND Pants 😉

 

Give your guilt to God and go to sleep

guilt-image

Guilt. It eats away at all of us. It leaves some of us anxious. Others get a searing pain, which manifests into physical symptoms. For some it feels like being pulled and stretched and then snapping back like a rubber band. As a woman, I feel it multifold (well, I’m only qualified to talk about it from a woman’s perspective as I belong to this gender!) When I’m at work, I feel guilt about leaving the kids being a single parent. When I’m at home, I worry about what needs to be done at work. When I’m in traffic between the two going either way, the rage hits at the cruel Gods for keeping me away from playing some role or the other. I feel guilty when I cancel plans with friends. The guilt hits when I go out with friends and so am not with the kids. I even feel guilty when I’m sick – heaven forbid I NEED to take a day or two to tend to a fever! And I’m sure it’s the same for all of you out there who are reading this. The bottom line is, that guilt leaves all of us feeling torn between we think we should do and what we want to do.

What we THINK we should do, arises from the following:

  1. We have been taught our whole life to do something a certain way – either via transgenerational messages (those that come down through actions, words or osmosis from generations above us in our family). Examples of these are ‘be responsible’, ‘be helpful’, ‘be strong’, ‘be perfect’. They can also be ‘a woman’s place is in the home’ ‘boys don’t cry’ ‘help others before helping yourself’
  1. We have been programmed and conditioned by the society in which we live, to live life in a certain way (the values or traditions passed in our communities, our religion, our teachers or the media). Examples of these are ‘a good Hindu will…’ ‘Natural birth is painful’ ‘expressing emotion is a sign of weakness’

If we think or act differently to what we have been taught, we stand the chance of being rejected, challenged or even scorned. So in reality, aren’t we being taught to think that if we are our authentic selves; if our opinions differ from those in our worlds around us; if we stretch to break the moulds we are meant to just ‘slip’ into, that we will not in fact, be accepted as we are? So are we, as citizens, managers, parents, siblings, spouses and children teaching conditional love rather than unconditional love and acceptance?

What we WANT to do comes up because:

  1. As we grow and develop, we become more authentic versions of ourselves. We shed the outer layers of what is expected of us or what we are taught and we embrace the truth that we are in our deepest core. As time evolves and life shapes us with it’s experiences, we understand who we are and what we want more clearly
  2. On a deeper level, as souls we have our own pre-selected stories to play out in this life and with that, karma debts to pay and collect. Those stirrings of the soul also take us down one path or the other, which may or may not be along the lines of what we THINK we should do

In most psychological studies, guilt is defined as an expression of anger; the anger being the inability to choose freely between the above – what we want and what we think we ought to do. Now that we’ve established this, lets talk consequences. There are incredibly grave consequences to internal guilt and anger (external consequences are frown lines J). Bruce Lipton, renowned Biologist wrote the book Biology of Belief which challenged the entire theory of disease being caused by genetics or any physical deficiency and in fact said that what shows up in our cells is a result of what we believe in our minds. Louise Hay, healer extraordinaire, brought about the phenomena of the mind-body connect and forced us to look at how physical disease in a particular part of the body is the result of an emotional trauma relating to that problem i.e Cancer is due to resentment, Conjunctivitis occurs when we don’t like what we see and so on.

For myself, over a decade of working in the holistic and spiritual realm with clients has opened my eyes to how the body responds with dis-ease to imbalance in the mind. To a disconnect in the core. To an inability in being able to align the difference between who we really are and who we think we should be. To love being offered only in conditional forms. And I for one, find that most alarming.

If you are a full grown adult, you have been equipped with the resources to think, to choose, to learn and to grow, therefore you are well armed with the tools to live on your own terms. Unfortunately in India, the culture of ‘Log Kya Kahenge’ still permeates our façade of a contemporary culture. Nobody but me lives my life. And so, nobody has a right to judge or comment on how I live it. And yet, like everybody else out there, I do get the advice, the opinions, the ‘suggestions’ which all tell me one thing – I am not unconditionally accepted.

Why can’t we accept every individual for the uniqueness within them? For the imperfections in their perfection? Why can’t we live and let live? Just imagine if we as a generation teach our children to love themselves and to forgive themselves alongside teaching them all the values and passing down all those precious traditions that we as parents do? We would create a world of happy, positive, secure, disease free people who would be able to achieve their full potential. Just imagine a place like that. But it all starts with ourselves. So ask yourself – can I forgive myself for all that I felt I have done wrong as defined by the world? Can I love myself unconditionally? I recently read a lovely saying; “Give your guilt to God and go to sleep at night.” Lets try it…