It’s Not Just How We’re Spoken About, But How We Speak About Ourselves

We’re all accustomed to the ways society has silenced women throughout history, and even in the present day. But with numerous avenues for making our voices heard, we are more likely to see women defying the status quo and speaking out. In fact, history has been marked by so-called “unruly” women speaking out, going against the grain, and creating lasting change for future generations.

“A well-behaved woman seldom makes history,” author Laurel Thatcher Ulrich famously wrote in the 1970’s. She was examining the lives of women such as suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton and 20th century writer Virginia Woolf, both of whom were considered to be going against the grain of their time. But thanks to them, women can vote, make themselves heard, write novels, be unafraid of expressing themselves authentically, and more.

Despite great odds against us, we are the ones who change the world. Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometti are the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter Global network, a movement that ignited the world to take a stand against systemic racism and police brutality, in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2013.

It was Tarana Burke, a sexual assault survivor, who founded the #MeToo movement in 2006, at first to create a space for women of color to know they are not alone, despite a justice system that continually excludes them. In 2017 actress Alyssa Milano brought the hashtag into the mainstream on Twitter, in the wake of the revelations about Harvey Weinstein and rampant sexual assault and harassment at the hands of men in power.

Today we see the women in Iran who forge ahead with the Women, Life, Freedom movement, rising up in numbers to defy the strict laws that deny them autonomy over their bodies and the choice over whether to wear the Hijab or not. Women of this movement are being jailed and even killed, in the name of freedom for all.

And it is the women across Latin America who started movements such as #NiaUnaMenos and The Green Wave in 2015, taking a stand against femicide and pushing for abortion to be legalized. Despite the region being dominated by conservative Catholic government figures and societal attitudes, the change happening in Argentina, Mexico and Colombia to legalize abortion has shown the way women’s voices, and the change that can happen when we band together, is undeniably powerful.

We’re powerful beings. Renowned for immaculate communication. We’re perfecting self-expression and learning how to do so across a multitude of new languages – but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s what we say that imprints onto our female fingerprints, not how we say it.

We’ve fought long and diligently to stop the way others speak about women from being degrading or diminishing or downright wrong. We have become experts at starting movements, coining powerful phrases, and speaking with authority in front of the masses.

But how do we speak about ourselves? When we look in the mirror each day, do we use words of empowerment, or negativity? How do we recreate the revolution internally? The words we say carry an intent and influences our self-belief, our self-image, our self-worth. 

According to numerous experts, self-talk is a critical aspect of our mental health, and can determine our wellbeing and outlook on life. Positive self-talk can also help you effectively manage stress.

There are others who emphasize that the words we say have power, they carry energy and they can create meaning in our lives – for better or for worse. It may seem like an insignificant moment to denigrate yourself by uttering throwaway statements such as “I’m not good enough.” “I haven’t achieved nearly as much as I should have by now!” “I’ll never look like her.”

But these words aren’t just insignificant, they matter.

A bad thought, thought enough, becomes a belief. A negative self-monologue becomes a negative mindset and thus a negative existence.

We’ve spent so long speaking up for the women of the world, and now it is our time to master the inner dialog to revolutionize our self-talk and self-esteem.

So today, have a word with yourself. A good word. Say something nice. Write a poem about self love. Post a sticky note with a powerful saying on your bathroom mirror. Express yourself in a way that is authentic, kind and positive.

Being powerful is not just about changing the world. History has shown we know how to do that! Empowering ourselves may just be the final piece of the puzzle in this ongoing global revolution, lead by women.

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