|Painting by Jerry Kirk|
"In the very beginning, the girl-child is self-possessed. She doesn’t need experts to manage
her movements from crawling to walking to running, her sounds from garbles to words to
sentences, and her knowing of the world through her amazing senses. Her own interests,
curiosities, and capacities orchestrate the flow of her days.
She sings to herself for an hour straight without interruption, loving her own company. She
sits in the attic for a whole afternoon, looking through old picture albums while conversing
with her dead grandmother. She ventures into the meadow beside her house in the morning
and forgets all about lunch as she carries on important conversations with her favorite
Over time, the inner voice that led her on self-directed explorations is replaced by critical
voices. As a result, the girl-child’s original vision is narrowed—she sees the world as
everyone else sees it. She loses her ability to act spontaneously—she acts as expected. Her original trust in herself is shattered—she waits to be told how to live. Her original spunk is exiled—she learns that it is dangerous to venture outside the lines.
She grows up asking, “What’s wrong with me?” This question shadows her life as she
searches for someone to give her an answer, a magical insight, treatment, or cure. She learns a criticism-based way of perceiving herself. As a result, her automatic tendency is to feel inadequate, that she’s never quite good enough no matter what she does.
Alienated f rom our inner sense of what is true, right, and appropriate for us, we become
experts at watching the way others live and we shape our lives accordingly. From talk show
hosts, to our therapists, coaches, and trainers, to the countless experts we consult to design
our experience, everyone knows better than we do.
We spend our lifetimes trying to fit into someone else’s idea of what is right for us. We
assemble our bodies according to society’s formula of the perfect woman. We form our
thoughts and opinions to suit the audience. We limit our feelings to what’s acceptable. We
format our behavior and actions according to the expectations of others. In the process, we
lose touch with our inner shape-spinning center.
Years later, a therapist, coach, women’s circle, or friend remind us of what we knew in the
ver y beginning of our lives. They tell us stories of wise women who author their own lives
based on their deepest wisdom, of strong women who name their own experience based on
their inner truth, and of powerful women who take ownership of their bodies, refusing the
prototypes and formulas of the culture. They are women, full of themselves, inviting us to
reclaim our original self-possession.
Reminded of the truth about yourself, reclaim the self-possessed one you once were.
Reaching back to childhood, the wisdom of your shape-spinning center orchestrated your
movements f rom crawling to walking to running, your sounds from garbles to words to
sentences, and your knowing of the world through your amazing senses. Reaching back to
childhood, the originality of your shape-spinning center pulsated through you in harmony
with your unique interests and talents, and essence and purpose. You are a one of a kind
child of life."
-Patricia Lynn Reilly, Imagine a Woman International