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  • Writer's pictureRachel Chan

May we raise them....up.

Updated: Mar 9, 2021

This International Women’s Day I’m absolutely delighted to see one of my favourite quotes shared so widely:

‘Here’s to strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them’.

Firstly, shout out to all the women living childless not by choice/by choice, or those who don’t have daughters. As we all know, it takes a village. So, you can still participate in raising strong women, even if you’re not a mother of daughters yourself. Secondly, I’d like to add an extra word in to the end of the quote: up. May we raise them up. Also, when we’re talking about raising ‘them’ up, let’s include ourselves in that.

Something that has come to light during all the therapy I’ve had over the past few years, is how negative my inner monologue is towards myself. When something goes wrong or I don’t quite achieve something I want to achieve, I immediately turn to harsh criticism of myself. The combination of a hyper critical inner monologue and the overly critical world we’re living in, is both dangerous and destructive for our mental health. It’s our experiences (amongst other things) that shape our inner monologue and the ways in which we treat ourselves. Throughout life, as a physically small and for the most part quietly spoken person, I’ve often found myself in the position of scapegoat or on the receiving end of bullying, which has been far worse as an adult than when I was a child. In a work environment, although I chose a profession which is now feminised, but still for the most part male dominated, some of the worst bullying I encountered at work was sadly from other women.

I believe in psychological terms it’s known as the ‘kick the cat’ phenomenon. It happens when you can’t direct your contempt towards the person you’re really mad at because they’re too much of a threat, or the consequences would be too great, or maybe because it’s really yourself you’re mad at. So, you find someone who appears to be less intimidating and take it out on them instead. It’s definitely had a devastating effect on my self-esteem over the years. Needless to say, the bullies I’ve managed to stand up to were most affronted to find out that while they expected I would put up with any old nonsense, they were in fact mistaken. Of course, the balance to this is that I can think of a fair few occasions in life where I could have reacted more favourably. So, although I would never bully anyone, I’m absolutely not claiming to be perfect.

As I’ve aged, I’ve realised we can’t control the behaviour of others towards us, but a concept that therapy has introduced me to has shown that we can play a part in improving our own self-esteem, as well as that of each other. During therapy I’ve been encouraged to exhibit some compassion towards myself, in the same way I would for anyone I know, and it is very slowly starting to have an impact. What does it look like? It’s actually very simple if you can bring yourself to do it. Acknowledge the way you’re feeling and cut yourself some slack!

Feeling nervous about a big presentation? Of course you are, so would anyone else be!

Disappointed the day didn’t go your way? Never mind, you tried your best!

For me, in the end, the only way I could do this was to pretend I was someone else. I had to imagine what I would tell someone else if they told me they were feeling the same as I was in that moment.

The beauty of all this I think, is that when seeking mental strength, if we all treated ourselves and everyone else with a little more kindness and compassion (and I’m not just talking about women now), we’d be able to raise ourselves and each other up, rather than knocking each other down as we clamber for the top spot.

Here’s to strong people. May we be them, may we know them and may we raise them….up.

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