In the middle of a significant breakdown, I felt compelled to share my experiences with friends and family. Being a woman, I love to share. Conversations are important to me. I didn’t know at the time that my dignity was at stake.
Many women seek supportive conversations to help them get through tough times. Most women have had those moments where spilling their guts takes the edge off nagging, gut-wrenchingly painful feelings, and experiences.
Right now you might be asking yourself: “What has dignity got to do with a conversation with a friend or family member?” Here’s how…
I have analysed my own anecdotal data collected over a two-year period from conversations with women. This collection of anecdotes from women shows there are serious concerns about how women in transition view themselves and why they are often bitterly unhappy in the process.
During phases of transition, many women experience low self-esteem usually underpinned by low self-belief and the fear that their dignity is at stake.
Here’s a small sample of the statements (personal information withheld) made by women…
- What if I try and I fail?
- I don’t think I’m good enough
- I’m not as good as ‘X’
- I’m scared
- Scared I’ll give it a go and fail
- I’m so overwhelmed I don’t do anything
- I’m too chicken to start
- Trying and failing seems like shutting a door in my face
- I’m being caught in comparison…to self and others
- I spiral into shame and embarrassment
- I avoid get-togethers and worry about people’s judgments
- I experience roadblocks and the worst depression
- I compare myself to other world-renowned people in my area and field
- I’m not as good as ‘Y’
- I couldn’t do ‘Z’ because I don’t have the experience
And that’s just the beginning.
All these women are in transition.
They are all searching for something and many of them are not sure what direction to take, and they’re frightened to make a start. Some do know what they want but something is holding them back. They are confused, anxious, and concerned they will be judged. They are judging themselves against other women…
What It Means To Live With Dignity (An Interpretation)
At the core of dignity is an interpretation of self-acceptance (I accept myself as I am).
There’s also the importance of maintaining integrity and the importance of acting consistently with our own standards that we individually and collectively hold as important – the standards we have developed over a lifetime of observing acceptable practices within our communities. For example: punctuality, consistency, quality of work/service, care and consideration for others, expertise.
Self-esteem and self-respect are incredibly important to us, and to ensure we have these, it is important to take actions consistent to our standards.
What’s At Stake?
What’s at stake is the assessment that we might lose our dignity, show up as lacking integrity, or come across as a fraud. “What if my work doesn’t live up to mine or someone else’s standards?”
The last thing most women want is to appear grander, more powerful, or more capable than others – especially if, heaven forbid, someone finds out that we’re a fraud.
Dignity matters to us.
Pride in what we do and concern for how we show up stops is from showing up from the heart
What’s Really Going On?
While these are the principles we live by, they are not facts.
They’re interpretations of what it means to lead a dignified life and what’s at stake if we can’t. Hidden in the stories that we’re making up are judgments (about ourselves and the world) and the opinions that we form from these. We make judgments because we have certain standards. Our standards shape the expectations we have of how to go about living life.
We’re often masters of judgments, but so often our judgments are just pl