Stand Up For Your Sister
Rise 2018 was such an incredibly inspiring and empowering experience that I felt it needed to be shared in two separate posts. You can read and catch up on my Pre-Rise post here and you can read Rise Part I here.
I love a good visual exercise. I believe when we participate and experience a concept in physical form we tend to see the humanity of it on a personal level. Seeing through to the humanity of something creates empathy and we can all use a little more empathy, am I right?
In the morning session on the first day of Rise, Rachel spoke about owning our pasts. What does your past look like? What hardships are you desperately trying to climb on top of? We all have baggage we lug around with us. Some we share and some we tuck away.
In order to stand on top of our hardships, our unresolved life experiences, our triggers we must first unpack them and look at them. We aren’t looking at these obstacles for blame purposes or judgement but to take back our power and erase the shame associated with said obstacles.
Nothing can stay hidden in the light, can it? The darkness that surrounds our thoughts and imaginations can quickly be shifted to clarity and strength by simply looking at whatever it is and calling it what it is.
I say simply because the formula is simple, BUT the work is hard.
My real life experience of standing on top of hardship
Several years ago, while working on taking back my power in a few areas of my life I did an interactive exercise with myself. I took a large mirror off the wall and leaned it against the wall. I sat crossed legged in front of the mirror with only my bra and panties on and I stared at myself for a long time.
Slowly and gently, I began recalling memories that were causing me shame and regret. Some memories were of choices I had made for myself, while others were about choices and actions taken against me and some taken against my will.
Although it was painful and uncomfortable I knew I had to confront these obstacles instead of letting them linger in my mind.
By tethering myself to these memories I allowed my past to control my present and thus my future.
I started talking as if I was talking to a friend and I told myself I was sorry those things had happened. I explained to myself that those were hard days and it must have been horrible to endure such things at the age of four, seven, eleven and so on or that I could see where she felt she had to make that choice.
But most importantly, I said, “Those moments aren’t who you are, they were bad days. Those days don’t have power over you any longer. You were born for more than that bad day!!! That day is not big enough to shut you down and take life from you! Do you hear me? You were born for more. Take that unhealthy energy and make it work for you for growth in your life.”
The whole process took over an hour and it was only the beginning, but it was so freeing. Because I stood up for myself that day in the mirror I adopted the practice into my self healing path. Anytime I catch myself beating up on myself or when the mental loop becomes abusive I find a mirror, I look myself in the eyes and I remind myself I can’t talk to my friend like that.
I say, “She is a queen and a good woman and poison has no place in her presence.” Yes?
Standing up for your sister at Rise
After Rachel spoke, sheets of paper were passed down each row through out the theater. Each sheet of paper had at least twenty sentences with an empty check box before each statement.
The sentences were statements such as
- I have been dealing with infertility.
- I have had sex with someone I do not love to feel better about myself.
- I have been cheated on by someone.
- I do not like the way I look.
- I use or have used food in an unhealthy way.
We were instructed to place a check in front of every statement that applied to us. Then after folding the paper several times we passed them back and to the left and to the right. After about five minutes of passing we stopped.
We opened the paper we were given and I stood staring at the anonymous hardships of a sister who was sitting in that very room.
I could feel the air shift.
Taking turns, Rachel and Brit (our way talented emcee check her out here.) read each statement aloud. We were instructed to stand to our feet if the sheet we were holding had a mark in the box in front of that statement.
We were standing up for our sisters and filling in the gap where shame and regret live.
One by one the statements were read and after each reading the only sound heard was the whoosh of women standing and sitting in unison. There was hugging and crying. Some women were looking down as they stood, while others lifted their faces to the ceiling.
Once the weight of the moment sank in we crumpled up the hardships that had been burdening our sisters and hindering her growth. As the theme song from Frozen played and we all lifted our voices to sing with united purpose….we literally let it go. Women all over the theater began throwing their crumbled papers to signify the effort of letting go of those hardships and obstacles. What a powerful moment!!!!
What did I feel while standing?
Every time I stood for my sister I said, “Be free.” I spoke freedom over her situation and the heavy yucky emotions that come with each hardship. I know the long term effects of shame and self loathing. But I also know what it feels like to break free.
We were in such a beautiful and safe place. It was the perfect atmosphere for letting go.
Afterwards Rachel asked if women would be honest and admit if they judged when people stood because of the statement they were standing for….and a few brave women raised their hands. I am proud of those women for being honest and I hope they saw through that exercise the power of practicing compassion.
Perhaps I hadn’t experienced some of the things listed, but I have experienced life and I know sometimes, because of circumstances, life presents itself in such a way that I can see where someone could have made the choices they made. That is empathy, being able to see the humanity in a situation.
How can I stand up for my sister in everyday life?
We have opportunities everyday as women to stand up for our sisters.
We can smile at one another and greet one another genuinely. Being happy for and celebrating with a sister sets my soul on fire. I love connecting people. When I’m given the opportunity to connect women with other women or a helpful resource it makes me feel like I’ve saved the world.
Of course being less critical and judgmental of each other would be the easiest and most effective way to start standing up for our sisters. We are all experiencing life and each one of us is in the midst of or is coming out of transition. It’s hard work and there isn’t any reason for any of us to feel alone.
If you want to talk about letting go and moving forward you can send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message on Instagram or Facebook at @iamsamjerry.
Last thing, do you have a tribe? Do you have community? If you don’t and you live in the Northwest Arkansas area send me a message and I will get you plugged in with like minded sisters. Not in NWA, we can still have community with one another. Reach out, sister.
Be you. Be beautiful. Be imperfect.