A fresh and powerful book of daily meditations that encourages women to discover their inner power and manifest it in every area of their lives
Strength is a wise and profound book that helps women deal with both the large and small bumps in the road of life. Here are over 125 meditations, stories, and musings on becoming stronger, happier, healthier, and more bodacious. The goals are to accept, honor, and activate sacred personal strength and to embrace a wisdom that facilitates change within and encourages (or demands, if need be) the world to become a better place.
Strength can be read cover to cover or more casually by choosing topics from the table of contents. Topics include: facing fear, embracing your inner Brunehilde, mirroring Jesus and Rosa Parks, sharing wisely, and knowing you're good enough is no longer enough.
"I hope Strength becomes your ally and you can hear me cheering you on as you courageously, compassionately, and gently become stronger and more empowered. I also hope it will make you chuckle on occasion" Sue Patton Thoele
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Sue Patton Thoele is a licensed psychotherapist and the author of numerous books, including The Woman's Book of Courage and The Woman's Book of Soul. She lives with her husband Gene near their extended family.
Read an Excerpt
Only through our connectedness to others can we really know and enhance the self. And only through working on the self can we begin to enhance our connectedness to others.
— HARRIET LERNER
When we are connected to our essence, women can create magic. And our mystical heart-centered — yet extremely practical — strength is urgently needed now to right a world disastrously out of balance.
Many women I know have had enough of heartless imbalance, inequality, righteous meanness, and downright disgusting behavior, and are committed to connecting with their feminine power and flooding the weary world with its constructive energy. To truly right the wrongs, privately and publicly, we must embrace the heartfelt feminine strengths of inclusivity, compassion, fairness, understanding, and the ability to be present and listen.
As women, we have a deep and holy hunger to be connected to our authentic selves and to the hearts of others. We long to live in a world filled with balance, harmony, and happiness. For this to happen, head and heart energy must integrate and equalize. Because feminine wisdom understands and embodies heart qualities, we are the ones who can bring that crucial balance to fruition, and we are. Only when heart and mind complement each other will equal pay, equal say, and complete respect for all become reality.
One of the hardest things I've ever done is come face to face with how incessantly fear ruled my life. Love connects us to self and others and fear divides us. I believe all feelings and philosophies are on a continuum between love and fear, and for the first few decades of my life, I hung out at the fear end. Since babies are born more curious than fearful, how did I get to be such a scaredy cat? Partially, I was taught to be fearful, but mainly I absorbed it energetically from the circumstances and people around me. I was born on the only day that week my dad had found work, money was tighter than today's jeans, and war was on the horizon. With good reason, uncertainty was rampant.
Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Society is once again in a time of transition, and it is not an easy one. Domination and imbalance need to change — in self, society, community, business, and home — and dominating people in entitled positions are not going to make that easy. However, facing and moving through fear will help us have the strength to bring about fairness, equality, and freedom for ourselves and others.
The first step is to courageously face our fears. Everyone has fear. The faces of fear change as we journey through life, but one thing is undeniably true: unexamined fear has the upper hand. Unacknowledged fear weakens, diminishes, and silences us. Hidden fear dampens happiness and hobbles us to self-sabotaging behaviors. Let's disempower fear by gently becoming aware of it.
During your day ...
* With no judgment, courageously begin to notice big and little fears.
* If you think you don't have any fear, tenderly dig a little deeper.
The fears we don't face become our limitations.
— ROBIN SHARMA
COMPLETING THE MOTHER CIRCLE
My in-a-nutshell definition of completing the mother circle is accepting the mothering you received, no matter its quality, and then becoming your own good mother. My years in private psychotherapy practice affirmed my belief that a troubled relationship with her mother can become a woman's most profound trigger. Because of the intense feelings involved, reaching acceptance for such a relationship often takes a tremendous amount of strength and patience. If your childhood wounds are deep and longstanding, please be kind to yourself and seek professional help. A compassionate and skillful therapist, counselor, or clergy person can help you weather the intense emotional storms that often accompany working through mother issues. From a neutral point of view, a therapist can provide valuable insight and perspective as well as practical tools to help you move toward acceptance.
Steps toward acceptance often include speaking your truth in safe ways and places, understanding Mom better by putting yourself in her shoes, and practicing forgiveness. Although we can't change the past, with healing, intention, and understanding, we can become better mothers to our kids and supportive and loving mothers to ourselves.
If your mother was/is a dear friend and supporter, your main challenge may be accepting the idea of her death. I was blessed to have a strong, loving mother. Even so, I didn't come full circle in our relationship until she was terminally ill and allowed me to really see her. Mother was a great support to me, but I hadn't known she needed my support also. Impending death gave her permission to be vulnerable and authentic with me, and I came to really know her. With that intimate two-way connection, we completed our circle by forgiving the hard parts and openly expressing our love and gratitude to each other for the rest. Of course, that sweet completion makes me miss her even more deeply.
During your day ...
* With deep compassion, note any unfinished business between you and your mother.
* In the theater of your mind, view a scene between you and your mom. With the magic of imagination, put yourself in her shoes. What is she feeling? What is she afraid of? What are her intentions? Give her a little blessing and let her image fade.
* Allow your attention to return to you in the scene and gently give yourself what you want, need, and deserve.
Forgiving unskillful mothering and creating an internal good mother facilitate the ability to claim your own feminine strength, wisdom, and power.
RECLAIMING YOUR SELVES
To deepen our connection with ourselves, it's important to know that we are many individual personas housed in one body. Each of us has a varied cast of characters that make up our personality. One moment a great businesswoman, the next someone entirely different. In Transpersonal Psychology, these varied facets are referred to as subpersonalities. The two best metaphors I've found to explain subpersonalities are a symphony orchestra and a stage play. Let's start there.
For us to be strong, successful, and happy, our inner cast needs to cooperate and complement each other just as an acting ensemble and orchestra members do in a performance. Although some of us were trained to deny or diminish our strong feminine aspects to appease others, they are still with us waiting to be recognized, accepted, and invited out to play. Recognizing and reclaiming the many guises of the Sacred Feminine within help us create a harmonious whole.
Each subpersonality — whether operating at full capacity or distorted through wounding, fear, or dismissal — is organized around a quality that enhances your life. As an example, after Gene and I had been married several years, a new subpersonality came roaring to the fore in me. I named her Brunhilda because she looked like a Viking warrioress with her coned breast plates, horned helmet, and wicked-looking axe. She scared my Terminal Nice Girl subpersonality and irritated the dickens out of Gene, which was, of course, her very necessary job at that time. Brunhilda's quality is strength to stand up for myself. She has softened and matured over the years but can still wield a gentle but resolute axe when needed.
During your day ...
* Become aware of different subpersonalities as they emerge. These aspects are your friends; delight in them. Some may need a little healing, but each is essential, and the quality they express is beneficial.
* Imagine what that quality might be.
Much of spiritual life is self-acceptance, maybe all of it.
— Jack Kornfield
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
Getting to know my subpersonalities has been one of the most helpful and healing psychological tools I've ever used. Being aware of the different aspects of myself helps me understand difficult feelings, helps me realize who inside me is experiencing them, and gives me the chance to find out what they want and need in order to feel better. The more I connect with my subpersonalities, the easier it is for me to move into the "I" aspect of my being and become an objective and kind mother/mentor figure to a hurting sub.
Yesterday was a good example. Due to computer difficulties that included ignorance on my part, my longtime subpersonality Miz Perfection was frustrated to the hilt and as irritable as a PM Sing mother of toddler triplets. Gene was trying to be helpful, but all I wanted to do was scream at him to be quiet. Luckily, I thought to ask Miz Perfection what she wanted and needed from me right then. In a smart-aleck tone, she retorted, "I want you to knock his block off, but I needyou to speak calmly and get out." I laughed silently, did as I was told, and avoided hurt feelings. The laughter lightened my mood, and leaving kept me from splashing icky irritation energy on Gene. A win-win. ... Feminine wisdom always desires win-win outcomes.
Your subpersonalities can appear as male or female humans, animals, or symbols. In a visualization I did with my son, he discovered a squirrel subpersonality. At that time, no one I knew had an animal, but with Brett's bushy red hair, active personality, and athletic ability, a squirrel was perfect. More importantly, he related to the image. Whoever or whatever appears to you and feels right is okay.
Orchestral musicians who understand their own and their colleague's music play easily together. The same is true of you; the more you know, understand, and accept your various subpersonalities, the more harmoniously they can coexist. Internal awareness ups your happiness quotient enormously.
During your day ...
* If you are a visual person, picture your subpersonalities. If visualization is hard for you, simply get a sense of what they might look like. Name them and begin to explore what makes them tick.
* If you are aware of subpersonalities in distress, ask them what they want and need from you right now. Wants can be different from needs.
* Have fun. You are getting to know a valuable inner circle of advocates and friends.
The more you know and accept all your selves, the stronger you become.
Water is indispensable and adaptive and, therefore, an apt metaphor for feminine energy. If you've ever seen a flooding river crest or been close to the sea during a ferocious storm, you know firsthand the impressive power and frightening strength of water in agitated action. On the other end of the spectrum, the Grand Canyon is a testament to the patient, long-term power of water.
Yes, water can be dammed and contained, but when gathered together in great enough quantities, it can overcome most obstacles. Now is a great time for the water sprite in all of us to return to Source, break free, and reconstitute ourselves by emulating the fluid, yet determined, feminine aspects of water. Our physical bodies are already approximately 60 percent water; let's saturate our mental, emotional, and spiritual bodies with watery Sacred Feminine energy and invite our complete self to be in the flow.
One great example of peaceful, persistent feminine power is shown in the documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell. It tells of a peace movement called Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace. Organized by a Liberian social worker, Leymah Gbowee, Muslim and Christian women came together dressed in white to pray for peace and participate in nonviolent protests to demand a resolution to the country's civil war. Their movement eventually led to the election of the first female president of an African nation.
During your day ...
* As you use and enjoy water, appreciate it's life-giving presence.
* If you feel constricted or trapped by a situation, imagine how water might find her way out or through.
* Notice which of your subpersonalities are best able to go with the flow.
Water is of all things most yielding and can overwhelm that which is most hard.
— TAOIST ADAGE
INTEGRATING HEART AND HEAD
In our quest to live balanced, happy lives, learning to integrate the feminine heart and masculine head energies within our own psyches is essential. Both energies are God given, and each has beneficial qualities. Many men and women have recognized that true balance comes from liberating the feminine in men and the masculine in women. In reality, almost everything worth doing or being requires both heart and head attributes to be successful. Life is much easier and more fun when both are balanced and cooperative.
I've noticed many of us, male and female alike, are expressing more head than heart energy. That's okay as long as your behavior feels comfortable and genuine. Although I can be competitive in games, I don't feel right expressing hard-edged, aggressive energy except in the privacy of my own mind or with a trusted friend who is not the target. In order not to suffer guilt and remorse, I need to transform conquering and controlling mental energy before I talk with someone about issues and misunderstandings. Only after taking the aggression out of my feelings can I engage in a heart-centered discussion with the hope of finding more understanding and a win-win solution for everyone. Others I know find fiery encounters stimulating and fun. No matter what your individual comfort zones, the important thing is to relate to yourself and others authentically.
If you spend a great deal of time in an environment that demands a lot of mind/striving/outer head energy, you instinctively know when it's time to give intuitive/relational/feminine heart energy some attention. On the other hand, if you spend most of your time nurturing your family or in a career such as nursing, your mental head side could probably use some time in the spotlight. Balancing both energies promotes peace of mind, heart, and body.
During your day ...
* With an open mind and heart, notice how much time you spend in your head versus your heart.
* Does the balance feel like an authentic representation of who you are? If so, great. If not, what changes might be helpful?
The authentic self is the soul made visible.
— SARAH BAN BREATHNACH
MIRRORING JESUS AND ROSA PARKS
Male and female represent the two sides of the great radical dualism. But, in fact, they are perpetually passing into one another. Fluid hardens to solid, solid rushes to fluid. There is no wholly masculine man, no purely feminine woman.
— MARGARET FULLER
The preceding quote points out the intermingling of energies that Jesus and Rosa Parks so beautifully illustrated in their lives.
As portrayed throughout history, Jesus appears to have been a sterling example of a man who lived from his heart even though residing in a patriarchal era and raised in a male-dominated religion. He reportedly liked and respected women, helped all those who needed it, taught and modeled love and acceptance for all, and forgave under the most extreme circumstances. I imagine him as friendly and outgoing while also requiring silence and solitude to refresh his soul. And he must have been tremendously charismatic and purposeful to impart teachings that still influence millions today. To me, he is the perfect example of unconditional love.
I'm so thankful to my Sunday School teachers who portrayed Jesus as someone to trust rather than fear, and as a result, I've been enamored of him since I was a little girl. To this day, I often feel his presence especially when in need of comforting. To me, Jesus epitomizes integration of heart and head and masculine and feminine energy.
In a very different way, Rosa Parks is also a great example of integration (accidental pun). Although she was actually the second African American woman who refused to give up her seat to a white passenger, her peaceful yet resolute refusal and arrest led to the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott. As a result of the thirteen-month boycott, important changes were made in the existing laws, and Rosa Parks's part in that caused the U.S. Congress to call her the first lady of civil rights and the mother of the freedom movement.
Even if the examples of Jesus and Rosa Parks don't resonate with you, I imagine there are people in your life who have the wonderful ability to combine heart and head energy in complementary ways. Maybe one of those is you.
During your day ...
* Be aware of opportunities to use both your heart and head in dealing with simple occurrences.
* Think of people you know who blend masculine and feminine energies wisely and effectively.
* Congratulate yourself when your heart and head are in sync.
Allow your life to reflect all aspects of your being.
BEING AMUSED AND EDUCATED BY SHADOW
One of the most fruitful connections we can make is with the shadow aspects of our personalities, for they often represent unhealthy roles we've fallen into or strengths we are not fully expressing. A great way to become acquainted with active shadow sides is through subpersonality exploration. I've already introduced you to two of my shadow aspects, Brunhilda and Miz Perfection. Brunhilda, whose quality is the strength to stand up for myself, is the shadow side of Strong Adult Sue. I needed Brunhilda to show up in her dramatic warrioress form to grab my attention and help me balance her counterpart, Terminal Nice Girl. Miz Perfection is the shadow version of Madame Reliable-Responsible, and not surprisingly, her qualities are reliability and responsibility. In shadow form, however, those beneficial qualities become compulsion and perfectionism. Anxiety, nervousness, and stress alert me to Miz Perfection's presence. Knowing she's in the driver's seat allows me to take over the steering wheel and make more self-supportive choices.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Strength"
Copyright © 2019 Sue Patton Thoele.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Heart of the Matter,
1 DEEPENING CONNECTION,
2 HAVING COURAGE,
3 PRACTICING SELF-COMPASSION,
4 GROWING IN THE KILN OF RELATIONSHIP,
5 ACKNOWLEDGING AND HEALING WOUNDS,
6 EXPANDING AWARENESS,
7 FRIENDSHIP: THE ART OF STAYING SANE,
8 BEFRIENDING YOUR AUTHENTIC SELVES,
9 ALLOWING WHAT IS,
10 CHOOSING WISELY,
11 EMBODYING STRENGTH,
12 KNOWING YOU ARE NOT ALONE,