Why I Hate Powerful Women and My Philosophy of Life
I was writing a blog post this afternoon. It started out beautifully. I was writing about how we have denied connection with integral parts of ourselves, which has resulted in all kinds of atrocities in our lives and in the world – such as depression, war, poverty, hatred, and destruction of our planet.
I was explaining how I believe these unpleasant effects all stem from our human need for love, and our belief (developed early in childhood) that love is conditional. I got to the bottom of the first page feeling pleased – my post was well thought out and brilliant, if I did say so myself. But something was missing…ME!
Reluctantly I realized my blog post was an effect of the problem I was talking about. I was trying to show you my brilliant bits, the ‘lovable parts’, and hide the rest. So instead of trying to convince you my philosophy is right (although I’m sure you’ll agree it is), I’m going to take a stab at living it in the moment, and tell you a little story about me I’d rather you don’t know.
I have a thing with powerful women. And beautiful women. And especially powerful, beautiful women. I hate them. I get jealous of them. I wish them ill will under my breath. I secretly try to sabotage them. (Let’s call this my “woman hating side”.) I also have a lot of love and admiration for women, and like to partner with them and see them succeed, but I find it hard to access that side of me sometimes. (Let’s call this my “lady love side”.)
My woman hating side caused me a lot of grief in my life, such as: constant competition with my sister growing up, and an inability to develop a deep loving relationship with her; constant comparison to my friends, colleagues and pretty much every woman on TV; constant exhausting myself trying hard to be better than other women; feeling jealousy and lack of trust of my romantic partners' female friends; and having very few powerful female partners or mentors. I did not trust myself to be genuinely supportive or happy for their success and therefore did not trust them to do the same for me.
I knew this part of me was bad and wrong, and certainly not lovable, so I tried to suppress it. I did not admit that I was jealous or angry or that I laughed evilly when bad things happened to powerful women. I certainly denied that I at times felt hatred towards them. I hid my woman hating side. I tried to extract it from myself like I was amputating my leg. I chopped it off from my conscious thoughts (mostly) although I’m sure my lopsided hobble made it obvious what I’d done.
I tried to be my lady love side all the time. I practiced thinking nice thoughts about powerful women, doing nice things for them, reminding myself that they are human too, and trying to gift them trust more and more. All of these things worked to some degree but I still could not connect intimately with powerful woman or fully trust them and be happy for them. After a while trying to be only my lady love side was exhausting me and I could no longer ignore my lopsided hobble.
The problem was I was only dealing with the effects of a deeper cause. After some inner exploration I realized the root cause was a belief that love was limited and conditional and that I had to fight to to receive it.
I was the oldest child and for the first three years of my life I received all of my parents love and attention. When my sister was born, my parents’ attention had to be shared with her. I think my three year old self felt like love left me a little and I started fearing it could leave me completely. I began to believe that love is limited and conditional - if I was not good enough, it would get taken away from me and given to someone who was (in that case, my sister – a beautiful powerful woman).
I started to measure whether I was “good enough for love” against the accomplishments and beauty of my sister, and then later against other women and the media portrayed measures of beauty and power our society holds out for women. I tried to suppress all parts of myself that did not fit those measuring sticks. The most extreme example being that when I grew hips as a teenager I developed an eating disorder to remove them.
My woman hating side hates powerful beautiful women because they reminded me of the parts of myself I had changed in order to be lovable, and how much further I still had to go.
I can now see the Catch 22 I created for myself - I try to get love by getting rid of the parts of myself that are unlovable (which is impossible because they are parts of me), which in turn proves that I am still unlovable. (Strive to be lovable. Never get there. Confirm belief of unlovable. Repeat.)
My journey the past few years has been about unravelling that Catch 22 and choosing something different: finding a way to love all of me; finding the strength and courage and faith to believe that love is abundant and unconditional and that I am lovable without amputating, tweeking, or covering up. The more I cultivate this love for myself, the less I am triggered by powerful women.
Although this particular part of my story is about powerful women, a similar one can be told about most any area of my life where I have suffered or am suffering. And I will be as bold to say that I think if we looked deep enough a similar story could be told about all suffering. So let me get back to the philosophical part and explain why.
I believe we are all born holding infinite aspects of humanity within us, knowing we are loved exactly as we are. We express all traits, states and emotions without judgment - from laughter to tears; cowardice to courageous; selfish to selfless; beauty to beast; hatred to love; trust to fear; Evil to Divine. We just Be all of it; being the state natural to us in the moment.
At some point in our early childhood we learn love is conditional. We start to learn which traits and ways of being are, in our perception, lovable to those around us, and which are not. We begin to shrink; our unlovable traits left dismembered, closeted and festering, our self hatred projected out into the world, causing all kinds of suffering (jealousy and hatred towards powerful women, for example).
Below is a simple diagram I created (drew on the writing pad beside me) that represents what I am talking about. When we are born we are all human traits (big circle). When we start to hide the ‘unlovable’ parts of us we start to shrink (small circles). We start to see ourselves as different from others; separate and alone. We struggle to keep fooling ourselves that we are tiny and hate when other people remind us of the 'unlovable' parts of ourselves we have hidden.
And so you have it, my theory, and me, both in process on this journey of remembering my wholeness.
In some ways this journey is simple - all there is to do is to remember that love is abundant and unconditional, and live from that place. But it is not easy to undo years of self fulfilling patterns confirming beliefs that love is scarce and conditional. So I will be honest with you and say the journey has been challenging. And I think it is the most rewarding journey we can embark on in service of ourselves, each other, and our planet.
I hope you will join me.
As Debbie Ford says in The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, “Each of us possess every existing human quality. There is nothing we can see or conceive that we are not, and the purpose of our journey is to restore ourselves to this wholeness.”