Have you heard the concept that Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus? It’s a metaphor intended to explain the different ways men and women communicate, that originated around the 90s. Only it turns out, it doesn’t hold much water. So says Deborah Cameron in her book The Myth of Mars and Venus.
As it happens, it’s not so much the way we’re wired that helps us speak up (or not), but our environment. There will be times, for example, where you’ve felt comfortable saying what needs to be said, and others when you’ve held back; a lot is to do with feelings of safety and support. In a world where men didn’t feel safe enough to talk about their feelings (for fear of judgement) they stayed silent, and so the myth that men are “bad communicators” continued. (Incidentally the myth that women are rubbish drivers is exactly that, a myth).
That’s not to say all myths are false of course. There’s usually an element of truth in what we’re told, and often with good intentions. People we trust and respect will pass on what they think they know, and in some cases it will be of value.
The key then is being able to discern what myths are healthy, and which are stealing your Mojo. This includes who is breaking your trust, so that you can get a bit of sparkle back.
This week, maybe set the intention to Bust the Myth. I’ve spoken before about what’s in your Rule Book, so it can start with thinking about what rules you apply in daily life. Whether it’s what you “should” wear, or how people “should” behave, see if there’s a myth you’ve gone along with but never considered why. (“Shoulds” are a good indicator that something needs to change.)
Another is to think about how safe something makes you feel; where do you have permission to speak up, and what needs to change where you don’t? It might be a dress code policy that makes you feel uncomfortable, or a family member whose views are (embarrassingly) out of touch. (The good news is, despite the old myth, if it’s what they really want you can teach an “old dog” new tricks). This doesn’t mean we have to tackle them on the spot, just that we don’t have to believe everything they say. Who and what do you trust?
This article also talks about authenticity, how we instinctively know when something’s not right, and how to rebuild trust. A step further, courage to drive change doesn’t come from “inner strength” or our IQ. Simon Sinek says it’s the quality of relationships we maintain, professionally and personally, that give us the courage to do difficult things. When we trust ourselves and others, we can achieve almost anything.
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Copyright Delphi Ellis 2021