We all have voices in our heads.
Come on, admit it. You know you have them. Chatty little noxious voices that yammer on all day, giving us a running commentary on everything we do or say.
Mine’s a bitch and a brat. Hypercritical. Opinionated. Judgmental. If she asked me to lunch, I would turn her down. She is a one-trick negative pony.
I spend a large part of my day redirecting her, altering her perspective, retraining her negative, nasty tone, smacking her upside the head, and diverting her in surreptitious ways.
Do you hear voices, too? What do yours say?
Might yours say stuff like “it’s too late, you’re too old, you are way too fat, too lumpy, too smart, too unlovable, too much, too quiet”…too too too everything and anything?
But let’s get to the bottom of this. Is that actually YOUR voice in your own head?
Mine, in mine?
Don’t think so.
In fact, no way, Sister.
We learned these voices from a culture that has no idea how to celebrate or honor who and what a woman is. Rather, the opposite. We learned how to dishonor ourselves from a world that dishonors women. It’s bigger than both of us.
It takes years for a woman to learn to turn against herself as effectively as we have. Generations, actually.
The reason I created The School of Womanly Arts was to teach women, myself included, how to dismantle those voices. Turns out they are not permanent. They are a habit worthy of breaking.
SG Leslie, one of our Mastery Valedictorians, spoke at her Mastery graduation a few weeks ago about how she dismantled her one-trick negative pony. She inspired me so much that I wanted to let her inspire you…
On my first day of Mastery, I sat in the back of the room making snarky comments, thinking the whole thing was hokey, somewhat crass and feeling like the girl in A Chorus Line—I felt nothing. I was envious of the women in the room that were having an experience, even if it was negative. The women that took the microphone and talked about their lives, their resistance, their desire to break through, the women that just seemed ready to transform. I was filled with jealousy of those women, but masked it as disdain. Those women that came back from lunch the first day telling tales of how the womantra Mama gave us brought flirtatious strangers and doting waiters, I was pretty sure they were plants. And Mama Gena, seriously, the pink sparkly outfits? The word pussy over and over and over again? Writhing with the man on stage? She was too much!
I thought that first day that this probably wasn’t for me. I thought I’m probably not the kind of person that has a breakthrough from the exercise she had us do. I thought I might not need this kind of shock therapy. I thought I already knew what gave me pleasure—someone else’s accolades, male attention, being seen—I just didn’t have enough of those outside pleasurable things in my life. I thought, I thought, I thought. I’m a really good thinker. But I didn’t listen to rule number one: do what Mama says!
Despite that, on Sunday, mostly because I felt obligated, I came back. And then something happened—I cried. I’m not even sure when or why I cried, I don’t recall it being anything particularly triggering for me, but something in me opened up and said that I wanted to stop the voice that has lived in my head for almost 47 years telling me that it is too late for me. That voice saying that it—in fact, all the big “its,” like love, success, recognition, creativity, beauty, money—whatever the desire, it was just not in the cards for me. That’s the same voice that tells me I will never be young and in love. The same voice that tells me that nobody publishes their first novel at 47, so why bother writing? The same voice that wakes me at 3 a.m. with a litany of mistakes and embarrassments. The same voice that looks in the mirror and sees only flaws. The same voice that says I experienced cancer and infidelity and infertility and divorce and financial insecurity—and the list continues—because I am cursed and I can never get un-cursed. On that Sunday I realized that I wanted that voice to shut the fuck up!
The Buddhists say that when people push your buttons you must recognize that they may very well be enlightened beings because if you were the Buddha trying to get people to find happiness in this lifetime, you wouldn’t sit back and passively wait, you would get right in their face! Well, I’m here to tell you that Regena Thomashauer is an enlightened being, because she will get straight to your triggers and help you get clear with them as to who is in charge, even if she has to get you there through your tears, anger or resistance!
This is not The Secret, this is not a self-help 10 steps and, poof, like magic, all will be right. This is not about wishing your way into happiness. This is fun and crazy and invigorating and it’s frightening and challenging and it’s work. At its core, The School of Womanly Arts is about reminding us that we are all connected, we all share in our fears, in our anger, in our shame, in our tragedy, in our beauty, in our triumphs, in our divinity and in our desires. I saw that the women surrounding me were extraordinary in their resilience, their generosity, their beauty—and it made me think that I might just be, too.
I stand before you to tell you that at every step, I experienced resistance. I stand here to tell you that Yes’ing my tragedies, exposing myself, sharing my shame and disappointment, recognizing my gifts and joy, saying “thank you, it’s true” to a compliment, saying the word “pussy”—none of it came easily. And yet, I stand here to tell you that when I felt small and ashamed, I went to the swamp and was transparent. When I felt excited and proud, I bragged. When I was confused, I spring cleaned. When I had nothing to say, I uprided other women’s brags and held space for them in their tragedies. I got clear that my envy of other women was not my greatest downfall, but a gateway to my desires. I understood that my worst days were part of what made me a complete woman, a goddess. And when I couldn’t connect to the tools right away, I looked around the room and found other women struggling and I connected to them. And when I couldn’t do that, women in the room found me and held my hand and took me there. And when I couldn’t do that, other enlightened beings entered this space, like SG Karla, who before she left this world showed us all her divinity in a brave and eternal act of healing.
Sometimes it felt like going through the motions during our weekends together, and it wasn’t until later that I got it. Some things I’m still working to get. But I am clear that we women stand for one another. I am clear that every woman in this room is connected to me, deeply and completely, as my mirror, my champion, my cherished friend, my sister goddess. I am clear that each and every one of us—and I include myself in this—is perfect and divine, gorgeous and lovable, accomplished and irreplaceable.
And as I struggled to integrate the tools into my life, I brought in new clients, I fell in love with the man in my life, we started renovating a house together, I made new realizations, I connected with amazing women, I connected more deeply to myself and my gifts. And unpleasant things happened, too. Not all of this was a result of Mastery, some of it was happening already. But for the first time I can remember, I was able to dwell on the positive and move on quickly from the negative. And that IS a result of Mastery, the tools we learned and the experiences shared with all of you.
I implore each and every one of you to love yourself, just as you are today. Love yourself as if you were the most beloved friend, partner, child. Love yourself as if your life depended upon it, because it truly does. And if you don’t know how, then get yourself to The School of Womanly Arts and let Mama Gena teach you how.
Today, instead of the girl that felt nothing, I am more like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. I have the ruby slippers and the ability to get myself home—home to a place of forgiveness, gratitude, optimism, and self-love. And each of you wear those same slippers. But it took our Glenda, Mama Gena, to remind us that it has been in us the whole the time. All we had to do was click our heels three times…oh, and do whatever Mama says!
SG Leslie’s right. The Womanly Arts aren’t some easy, poof, answer to all your woes. They are a practice, and are especially powerful when practiced in community with other women. They are a daily practice and reorientation to pleasure as your guide.
What areas of your life have you deemed yourself cursed to never experience the joy, the pleasure and the ecstasy you long for? What are the voices in your head telling YOU you can’t do? Share your thoughts in the comment below.
And if you know a friend who’s hearing those voices, pass on this blog to her today…
P.S. Speaking of practicing the Tools and Arts in community with other women, you can do so right from the comfort of your own home—no matter where you live—by joining Virtual Pleasure Boot Camp. We deploy September 12th. Click here for all the details.