top of page

Healing Internalized Misogyny

"Because being female places us in a position of less power in our historically patriarchal world, we’re conditioned to disconnect from our authentic direct experience and instead focus our interest, attention, and concern on others." - Mare Chapman


Searching For Safety

Initially, as women, we strive to fit into the patriarchal culture to feel safe physically, financially, and emotionally. A patriarchal system believes that males hold more value, importance, and power than females. For this reason, needing external validation and support is much more prevalent for women. Internalized misogyny shows up in a woman as being self-critical of her abilities, her intelligence, and her appearance. This is often the root cause of the anxiety and depression that women come to therapy to heal.


Many women are deeply conditioned to seek approval and security from others while ignoring their own needs and desires. The effects of giving power away to others can keep many women trapped in self-doubt, afraid to fully and wholeheartedly express their authentic selves and follow their dreams. Most women act in ways that create safety and belonging until they learn to express their authenticity more powerfully. Often, this requires becoming more internally referenced and connecting strongly to a higher power and a higher purpose.



Fretful "Othering"


"What other people think of you is none of your business. No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt


The oppression of women is so "normal" that we rarely question it. Internalized misogyny comes with its own set of external "shoulds." These "shoulds" are often swallowed whole without examination and become part of our internal operating system.


One unquestioned "should" that most women operate from is what psychotherapist Mare Chapman calls "othering." She explains that trying to figure out how to please others to ensure they are happy with us unmoors us from our inner base of stability and wisdom and creates chronic self-consciousness.


"In our attempt to feel secure in the others’ perceptions of us by pleasing and tending to them, we become paradoxically absorbed in our insecurity. Further, the insecurity this pattern provokes, displayed through self-criticism, judgment, doubt, and second-guessing, is at the root of our chronic anxiety, self-hatred, depression, eating disorders, and addictions of all kinds." ~ Mare Chapman


Mare Chapman further explains that fretfully dwelling on what others think of us generates a basic undercurrent of tension based on a deeply held fear that we aren’t enough. This fear leads to relentless self-assessment. We habitually compare ourselves to others, which keeps us worrying and striving to be better, more attractive, more considerate, or whatever we think is needed to please others. Yet, we will never feel we are perfect enough.


Questioning when we view ourselves as "lesser" and seeing how we abdicate our power to other's opinions is the first step to healing internalized misogyny. Noticing how much we demean ourselves can feel painful and embarrassing at first. Yet, knowing there is a cultural context for our internal harshness can soften the shame.


In a patriarchal culture, we can powerfully redirect our innate female power to heal our "internal house" emotionally first. Genuine societal change can only happen after our internal house is clean, coherent, self-loving, and powerful. This begins with examining how we talk to and care for ourselves. 


Finding Self-Worth in a Patriarchal World


Currently, we are witnessing patriarchal institutions crumble. Patriarchal dysfunction is being revealed, and we are left contemplating how we’ve been compliant and how we’ve been victimizing ourselves with "othering," self-negating, and perfectionism.


As women, we commonly believe we will secure the other’s approval and support if we can be perfect enough. Yet, as long as we remain attached to the illusion that perfection will save us, our sense of self and security will be overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy, shame, anxiety, and depression.


Questions To Ask Yourself

1. Notice how and where patriarchy has formed your personality. Do you struggle to fit into patriarchal/societal norms? How much do you defer to what others want or expect you to be?

2. Are you externally or internally referenced? How much time do you spend worrying about how others perceive you?

3. How do you feel about yourself? Are you reliant on other people's opinions about you to feel safe, secure and loved?

4. Do you struggle with perfectionism in any way? Have you considered resisting what patriarchy encourages you to think, do or feel if it is not in alignment with your truth?

5. Are you kind to yourself? Are you harsh with yourself? How much do you practice self-care and self-affirmation?

5. Do you surround yourself with people who support your self-empowerment? Or do you spend most of your time with women and men who have internalized misogyny?

6. Does your life feel personally meaningful? Are you connecting to your higher power or purpose and pursuing your path of fulfillment?


Remember that you are not alone. Most females in the world struggle with internalized misogyny. Encourage yourself and other women to find self-love and internal power!


With Love,

Shelley


PS: Are you in touch with your authentic truth? If you are struggling with internalized misogyny, Mare Chapman's book Unshakeable Confidence might help.

Comments


bottom of page