I was recently in the middle of one of my teacher training retreats and something I so enjoy about working with students at this deeper level are the powerful and energizing conversations we have as a community about art, life, creativity and the intuitive painting process.
During a particularly lively discussion we focused on how OFTEN we get non-stop bullied, coerced, controlled and pushed around by that part of us that I refer to as the Judging Mind. And how vigilant we have to be to even notice that it’s happening, much less stop it from exercising so much power over our creative selves.
Now this is something that I talk about ALL the time. It’s not a novel concept. In fact there’s not much that I teach that is actually new. But even though these concepts and ideas seem obvious and self evident and something that EVERYONE agrees with ( no one says… YEAH.. I absolutely LOVE being bossed around and beaten up by my inner critic)… it is incredibly difficult to actually change our relationship to it and NOT allow it to run the show.
One of the primary and often invisible reasons the judging voice is SO powerful is because that domineering, repressive, dictatorial, and commandeering part of our brain is supported by the patriarchal waters that we all swim in.
The dominant culture continually reinforces this voice by being full of messages about how we’re expected to behave if we want to fit in, get approval and ultimately survive. It tells us what to do and how to act under any and all circumstances. But it’s even louder in telling us what we SHOULDN’T be doing.
We are fiercely discouraged from calling the shots and living our lives on our own terms.
And we’re DEFINITELY not encouraged to truly think for ourselves, put ourselves first or follow our innermost desires because that would mean we were going off-script and acting in ways that are NOT what the patriarchal culture deems valued and valuable.
Acting in service of our own wants and needs… especially if we are women… is dangerous. So we look to that inner voice to keep us in line by letting us know where the line is. But also to keep us safe in a culture that is threatened by a woman’s freedom of expression. And threatening when she refuses to go along with the patriarchal program.
This is the voice that speaks in the language of shoulds and supposed to’s. It’s the language of rules and regulations and coloring inside the lines. It’s propriety and decorum and codes of conduct and ultimately indoctrination. It defines what it means to be a good enough woman. And always sets the bar higher than is humanly possible to reach.
At core it’s designed to conquer and domesticate our power and sense of agency. Tame our brilliance. And restrain our wild and free and irrepressible creative selves. And NOT listening to that voice causes the patriarchal system to totally FREAK OUT because ultimately it means we are not vulnerable to being controlled by cultural and societal expectations.
In becoming more conscious of this internal dynamic, the most important thing to remember is that it’s not OUR authentic voice. It’s something we learned and is the voice of internalized oppression.
Being part of this domesticated culture means that other people around us … and sadly, this can include other women… have also unconsciously bought into the patriarchal system. They will sometimes try to keep us in line “for our own good.” Or when we take steps to reclaim our power and voice it may scare them and so they try to restrain us or shame us as a way to minimize their own discomfort.
So if someone in your life tries to tell you that you’re too much … or not enough… in ANY way shape or form, try to remember that this is NEVER about you. It’s always about them and the places inside of themselves where they are still in thrall to the patriarchal madness and still need to grow and heal.
You’ve come up against THEIR limit. But that doesn’t mean it has to be YOUR limit.
You get to say, NO thank you and walk away. You get to say, I’ve got some aliveness to attend to, so I’ll see you around. You get to say, my gifts were given to me as a sacred trust and the world needs me to exercise them FULLY so I am going somewhere where they will be CELEBRATED and appreciated.
You get to throw off those ancient shackles of feeling like there is something wrong with you , stand in your power, be the too much joyful woman, open your heart to yourself and celebrate the living HECK out of YOU. Day after day after day.
Because every time you do that, you are saying a great big fat YES to life and ALSO making space for your sisters on this wild and wondrous life journey to do the same.