By Dronile Hiraldo. Photography by Deun Ivory.
Do you recall the last time you felt ashamed? You might have felt unworthy, self-conscious, or as if you needed to hide parts of yourself for love. Shame is a powerful feeling. Recently, I saw how shame can keep us from being our whole selves. Ever since I was little, I’ve been stuck in this belief that it’s not okay to be a woman and make my own money or be successful. You wouldn’t even believe the amount of conflict this belief has caused me as an entrepreneur. I was taking two steps forward and three leaps back. The fear was that if I allowed myself to go for what I wanted then I wouldn’t be living up to the “right” standards as a woman.
For a lot of women, women of color specifically, this belief comes up a lot. We short-change ourselves from asking for that raise or going for what we want, because there’s shame around being ambitious or being good enough. The feminine calls us to be vulnerable, intuitive, and expressive; mindbodygreen affirms, “This is feminine power at its finest: it’s about connection and emotion more than analyzing and intellectualizing!” That’s the opposite of masculine energy, which is protective, strategic, and passive.
Both feminine energy and masculine energy are necessary for spiritual balance. Like yin and yang, they work together to create inner harmony. When one is out of balance it can cause powerful feelings — like shame, doubt, and insecurity — to arise. For me, leaning on my masculine energy caused intense feelings of jealousy and envy, and this was how my shame manifested. My self-perception was fighting against my goals and dreams. Rather than allowing myself to be free, I continued to put myself into boxes and tell myself I had to show up a certain way. This meant putting myself last, not following my own goals and dreams, and even trying to change myself for approval.
If you’ve felt this way or are currently feeling this way, then reclaiming your feminine power is a way to gain peace. When learning how to balance both energies, affirm and claim it. Your feminine power, like any area of your life, needs nurturing and support. Embrace that power within you, and show it love. Here are a few practices to get you started:
Own your sexual energy. Growing up in a religious home, I know what it’s like to feel shame around being a sexual person. It’s often attached to negative connotations. However, there’s a way to be sensual without feeding into those negative ideas. Dancing, for one, can help you tap into your sexual energy because it’s all about having an awareness of the body. There are other ways to own your sexual energy as well. Smelling fragrances you love or eating foods can also help with your sexual prowess. A few foods like avocados, strawberries, and chocolate can boost hormones. Revving up your senses is a great way to delight your pleasure centers and let your subconscious know it’s okay to be sexy.
Create positivity around your finances. This is one I’ve been giving a lot of attention to. As I mentioned earlier, this is where a lot of my shame as of late has been the most intense. Salary reports and wage gap statistics can cause us to feel as if we aren’t worthy of the financial goals we desire. But this is far from the truth. First, we need to create positive stories around money and our finances. A great tip, from Marie Forleo and Kate Northup, that has been helping me lately is:
Every time you check your bank account or finances think of three ways you value yourself. Or three ways you add value to the lives of others.
Treat yourself to lingerie. Our bodies are beautiful, but with advertisements and the media trying to sell us the next “big” thing, we lose sight of that. Imagine how your body carries you over the course of a week. From yoga to brunch to the office – your body puts in double time, and often without positive reinforcement or tender care. Whether you love a lacy teddy or satin boy shorts, find small ways to embrace your femininity. Appreciating your body this way reconnects you to the present. Cultivate that awareness to your physical essence.
Challenge those stories. Each of us has a story. For me, it’s been that as a woman it’s not safe for me to be independent and successful. These stories often get embedded in us from childhood. They’re either based off what we see growing up or what others tell us. The feminine wants us to be vulnerable and to get real about the stories we tell ourselves. What story are you currently telling yourself that brings up feelings of shame? Take time to acknowledge those stories and to begin to challenge them. What would life look like if you began to tell yourself a different story?
Do 1 thing for yourself every day. In the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day, putting ourselves first can be something we ignore. Instead, I’d like to encourage you to take the next 30 days to do 1 thing for yourself every day. The best part? It can flow with what you already do. If you love a Matcha green tea, for example, grab yourself a cup on your way to work. These small moments of gratitude and self-awareness will build up. Over the course of 30 days, you’ll collect all these examples of how you receive love. That momentum can spark other positive changes in your life because once you feel good, you’ll do good.
Experiment with your hobbies. An aspect of feminine energy that often gets ignored is creativity. As work days get longer, taking time out to explore new hobbies and interests has become less of a priority. It can seem “frivolous” to spend a couple of hours doing something completely outside of work, but it can do wonders for your life. If there’s a class or interest you’d like to try, give it a go! Doing something new can shift your perceptions, which will create space in your life to break through unrealistic expectations.
See your shame through the lens of love. You may feel comfortable suppressing your feelings. Or trying to live up to the ideal “strong Black woman” motif. For a long time, I thought crying or feeling anything other than happy and positive was wrong. Because it reminded me of all the times “be strong” was a response anytime I showed any kind of human emotion. Reclaiming your feminine power will mean getting back in touch with those feelings. And being okay even when it feels uncomfortable to step outside the expected facade of male strength. There’s power in our feelings. When shame comes up, see for what it is – an unhealed wound asking for your attention. This way you can tend to it and transform it.
Many of us are awakening to the binds that have been placed on femininity.
There isn’t one right way to be feminine nor does being feminine look a certain way. Letting go of that can help us see the shame and rather than fight against it, learn to heal it. The practices I've shared are what helps me breakthrough and reclaim my feminine. But there are so many more! How has shame and feminine energy played a role in your life? Are there practices that have helped you in breakthrough and reclaiming your power? Let us know in the comments below!
Dronile Hiraldo is a freelance writer specializing in holistic wellness, sustainable living, and diversity for small to medium-sized businesses and lifestyle brands. She’s helped brands like NYRR, GoDaddy, Planted and Black Girl In Om write blog content, grow their online readership, and connect with industry-leading influencers. In her free time, she loves working out (everything from yoga to kickboxing), traveling, finding artisanal dessert shops, studying the Bible, and designing pretty things. Her hope is to one day coach other writers, creators and entrepreneurs on how to design the life of their dreams. Connect with her online at: www.dronilehiraldo.com, Instagram, & Facebook.