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We need a shift in culture

I am a strong woman and am used to speaking out loud. I have been in one sort of politics or another since my teenage years, mainly in disability politics since a disability forced me to make some changes in my life. It has not been a career choice, but a knowledge that I have the ability to help others through my skills and therefore the duty to do so.

I have been taught, that having any sorts of career or influence is an eternal competition, where showing enterprise, initiative, vigor and skill is necessary. I have been taught that this holds true, especially for women, who must perform 110% to succeed. I feel judged by these values and even more important, I judge myself on these values. I judge whether I do all that I can.

I tend to compare myself to others and I judge myself. I see an article in a newspaper and appreciate it, and I ask myself, have I shown the same enterprise as that person? Why have I not written an article? After a meeting I might ask myself, did I show enough initiative during that meeting, speaking my mind? And always the question, am I vigorous enough? Do I do enough, or should I do more?

After becoming vice-president of the Danish disability movement, I feel this more than ever. I can’t help always judging myself. How do I for example measure up to the president (a brilliant man full of enterprise, initiative, vigor and skill)? Why do I keep falling short? Do others see my failings?

And it is not only a question of comparing myself to others. I miss those women, and sometimes men, who have nurtured me up to this point. Those who have encouraged me and who have boosted me. Those being one rung up the ladder, taking the time to help the next generation along. Now I am at the top and encourage others, but I increasingly doubt myself.

In the middle of this internal struggle, I also spend a lot of time considering, whether enterprise, initiative, vigor and skill are the right parameters to judge by. I sense a need for a change. To acknowledge enterprise, initiative, vigor and skill, but start practicing the art of holding space. Acknowledging the value of peace, being at rest. Knowing the power of observing before acting. Being receptive. Nurturing. Cooperating. Holding light and love and yet acknowledging the darkness in all of us, the shadows.

We need to make a shift from trying to prove ourselves by masculine values, measuring ourselves against each other in an eternal competition. We need to acknowledge the power of the feminine, the power of holding space and allowing.

But how do we make the shift? How do we make the shift to a culture, where the feminine and the masculine is more balanced? Where holding space, observing, acknowledging, nurturing and cooperating is just as important is being full of enterprise, initiative, vigor and skill. Where we know that, just as there is a time to working the earth, there is a time for allowing the earth to do its magic. Sometimes we need to work hard and sometimes we need to allow, to nurture and hold space.

It will not be an easy shift. In western society we have a deep belief in the value of hard work. We need to constantly prove how busy we are. How successful. But it is necessary for us to make that shift. We need to achieve a better balance, in our society, in our daily lives and most importantly within ourselves. And we need to support and nurture each other, in order to move forward.

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