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Breaking the Societal Shackles on Women

Episode 26 of the Fuel the Fire Podcast hosted by Shanon Safi, RD, LDN.

We are taught so many things growing up as women: what we are supposed to do, what we can or cannot say, and how we are supposed to speak & act.

Most of this is perpetuated by society’s view on women. But what happens when we brake those rules? In this episode, Shanon talks about her own growth and embodiment, how we can challenge society’s view, and why it’s important that we do it together.

In this episode, we talk about:

  1. How upbringing can perpetuate gender archetypes (01:39)

  2. Shanon’s experience on how repression can follow us through to adulthood and into the workplace (05:33)

  3. How can we to begin embrace the beauty of our femininity while challenging traditional roles and why we should (09:58)

Episode Transcript:

  That's so unfair feeling like we're not worthy because we didn't sacrifice enough of ourselves because we have too many emotions or we're not being quaint and agreeable. We have to stand up to that. There is so much power in being a woman. I freaking love that. Hello and welcome to another episode of the Fuel Fire Soul podcast with your host, Shannon Safi.

I am so excited as always to get into this week's subject. Because this one has really been kind of like brewing within me to talk about for probably a lifetime. So, I'm really excited to get to share this with you guys because I have a lot of thoughts and I know that there are a lot of other women out there that have similar thoughts and we just don't get the opportunity to really share them in a space that is going to be constructive.

So here I am to deliver this message. Hoping that the right people will hear it and the people that do hear it will be inspired to move into action and to do something about this subject, because I know deep down, so many of us want to. And so, here's your chance to really put yourself out there, express yourself, use your voice and hear is about to be every reason that you should do so.

All right. So, this subject, releasing the shackles on women that society and family and lineages have placed on us. This is such a big one, and it was so big within my personal life, and I can only imagine how broad scale it really is, especially in today's political climate. I'm not really going to get into politics on this podcast, but it's definitely very apparent that these things are still coming up, even in today's modern society.

And they really need to be addressed and more women really need to speak out about their experience and take action. So, with this topic. I want to just give like a personal background story as to why it hits really deeply for me. I was raised in a culture where they really hope that you're born a boy, like I'm Syrian, and I'm really proud of my heritage and I love that.

And it's shaped me in so many beautiful ways. There are also things within my heritage that. need to be healed and need to be addressed and that is something that I spend so much time doing now in my personal life is really trying to like heal this ancestral trauma that's been carried through my lineages and is no longer serving the way we live as Syrian Americans.

So, it's time for some change within that and I really am aware that. I have to be the one to stand up and do this within my family, and the sooner I do it, the less likely I'll be to pass any of this down to my children and continue this within my family and within my roots. So, I was the first girl born into my family on my dad's side, in terms of, like, my cousins.

So, my dad's family came here, and my parents came here after they got married. With that, I have five aunts and uncles on my dad's side, and yeah, so I was the first girl born, which caused turmoil in my family, honestly. It was just because they see. Especially, like, being born in America, they really wanted to have men because they believed that men were going to be able to carry the family name, and they were more likely to do something to, like, really make a name for the family.

You know, again, like, this is kind of some old school stuff, and if anyone dates back, there was some point in everyone's family that people kind of had this mindset, but when you come from different countries, that kind of mindset sticks around for a little bit longer as those countries are continuing to develop.

So being born the first girl, it was kind of tough to be honest, being young. I was very aware of it. So, it's not like it was a secret. It's not like I was unconscious, even though as a child, you can really only half comprehend what's going on. You can still understand the gist of why it's happening. So as a kid, I really looked up to my brother and I genuinely, like, wanted to be him.

I wanted to be a boy because I saw how much more favored the boys were and I just felt like I was unlucky because I was born as a girl and I was like, this kind of sucks. So, I really spent so much of my life, like, denying myself of my femininity. I was like such a tomboy growing up. Just because of that, like, I think that I really disconnected from a lot of parts that are actually really beautiful and empowering about being a woman.

And so, I really look back at that and it's like, it's kind of sad. Like I look at little me and I wish I could just give her a hug because that was a tough time. I couldn't really wrap my head around why being a girl was a problem, but I understood that there was, you know, or I felt like something was wrong with me because that's how I was born.

And so, I kind of grew up really having like this big chip on my shoulder and feeling like I needed to prove myself. Like, to prove that I can hang with the guys, to prove that I could be better than them, to prove that I'm something, to prove that I'm going to make a name for myself, to prove that I can be successful just like the guys.

In ways I am grateful because I did push forward with a lot of things that were very challenging, and I did kind of make some headway in spaces where they were predominantly, Run by men. And I was very proud of that, but at the same time, I think it did disconnect me from the things that I've spent so much time in my later years, trying so hard to reconnect with and appreciate about myself because of that.

So, for some examples of things that I did, I always, like, look back and I'm like, yeah, I started lifting before it was, like, cool for girls to lift. So, when I was in high school, I started lifting weights, and I'm telling you, like, I was always, like, one. Maybe the only girl or like one of two girls that was lifting at that time.

Like any gym that I would go to, there were so few women. And I was kind of like really into the hardcore lifting because again, like, I just like, I want it to feel tough. Like I want it to kind of be like that bad B that like, no one's going to mess with, like, I just grew up with that mentality feeling like I.

I had something to prove to everyone. And so, yeah, that was like a really big area. And even in the business world, like when I joined my business group, yeah, there was only like three other girls in it. So, when you kind of think about that, I was really into industries that were just predominantly. Run by men.

And I was really trying to do something about showing that like a woman can just be equally as strong, if not stronger and competent in this realm and be able to move through this, be successful and not take anything from anyone. So yeah, it was kind of tough though, because it really made me feel like I had to repress my emotions.

So, I didn't come off as weak because that's really how it's painted. But now I really truthfully understand that having emotions, being able to navigate the world through those emotions is actually one of the greatest gifts that we have as women, for all those women listening. We are kind of taught to like push it down, stop crying, don't think about it, don't be emotional.

You can't make emotional decisions. That's going to lead you to the wrong place. Don't think with your heart, think with your brain. You can't survive in this man's world unless you detach yourself from it. Your emotional experience. I spent so much time again, repressing those emotions. Like I think I, you know, for 27 years, I repressed my emotions even as a child.

Like I remember that's how I was raised where it was like, you better not cry. You better not be this way. You better not express anything. You better just like be quiet and do as you're told. You're supposed to follow these rules. You're supposed to do this thing. And so by living that way, you really even get further away from who you are and your intuition.

It really creates this, like, huge thing of self-doubt within women and children in general when you're talking to them in that way. So, growing up, I felt like I just could never trust myself because of my emotions and because the way people looked at me as a girl, like, I couldn't make my own decisions.

And now, in my adulthood, I realized so much of that self-doubt, like, it's been really hard to heal. To be able to sink back into myself and trust myself again after spending all of these years being told that I can't trust myself, and that I don't know what to do, and that I should ask other people, and I should follow these rules, and I should do what society tells me, because that's how a woman becomes successful.

That's how she's respected. That sucks, and I really hate that. So many people go through that, and so many women that I've talked to and counseled have that same feeling of self-doubt. Just feeling like they're indecisive, they can't make decisions, they can't trust their decision-making process, and that they're just too irrationally emotional about things that are actually very reasonable to be emotional about.

That is one of the biggest challenges that women, I think, face in a lot of workplaces that are dominated by men. Because as a woman, they kind of... Push you, and by then I guess I mean societal standards, really push you to be someone that's, like, harmonious and agreeable and, like, you're not supposed to ruffle anyone's feathers, and if you truly say what you think and it goes against what the person in charge says, you're seen as a bitch or, like, a shit talker or any of that stuff, and, like, it's crazy because it's such a double standard.

If a man doesn't speak his mind in those settings, he's looked at as weak. But if a woman speaks her mind in those settings, she's looked at as aggressive, and like, she's out of balance, and like, what's her problem? It's so wild how that still exists today. It's just kind of like, ignored in so many cases.

In these cases, what we really need to do is become more confident in who we are, so that these things, when these situations arise, they don't shake us. It's normal for them to shake you in the beginning, absolutely, because I really, I did struggle with that at times where I felt like I was trying to finally change this and change the way people saw me and change the way people respected me so that I could move forward and progress and feel successful in my career and other places.

Even in the gym too, but it really felt like I was detaching from myself like now that I can look back at it, I knew that wasn't the right way. You know, I didn't have to repress my emotions I didn't have to just be harmonious and agreeable I didn't have to pretend that I was like some perfect little thing to be worthy and desirable and yeah, I'm gonna come back to that point, but As a woman, you have the right to be in your power and to speak what you truly believe and not feel afraid because you're a different gender than the people who dominate the space that you're working in.

And this could be within your family, this could be within the workplace, this can show up in any area of your life. The challenge of this is, really becomes, like, how do we gain that confidence to step up and do this? Because we're not really taught this. This is something as a woman, you really have to go out and seek.

And it takes so long to realize it because when it's so normalized, that women are just quieted in this way, or society just expects women to be this way, it's harder to find the right places to go, or even just the awareness and consciousness to know that things could be different. So that's what's so hard about it, is like, when you're raised in this environment, you don't know that it doesn't have to be this way, and that you are powerful for all of these things.

You're powerful for being able to tap into your intuition and to use that as your guide. You're so powerful for being able to make decisions from your heart space. And like, coming back to that earlier point, as I continue on with other things that society kind of shackles us down by, this idea that we have to show up as some kind of like, perfect presentation for a man to deem as worthy as being, for being a wife, like, this is something that, you know, especially in I think a lot of cultures where they really kind of push you as a woman, like going in and having kids and being in a family and being in a stable relationship and settling down and doing that a little bit more quickly, you know, like for me to be 30 and unmarried in the Arab culture.

Some of like, like my grandma, for example, like thinks it's concerning and I had to just like, kind of brush that off because like to them, it's normal. But it is really hard, because I know that's almost like a standard of expectation, and sometimes it does really get to me when my family makes comments about that.

It used to not, but as I get older, it's kind of like, that repetition can sometimes get into your head. So, it takes me more time to really practice and get into a centered space before going into conversations where I know there's a chance that these things might be said. And I know they're not coming from a negative place, so I'm really able to forgive and really work through those moments, but I won't deny that sometimes it is really hard and it does kind of get me down.

But again, I don't think it should have to be that way. Yeah, you're supposed to show up as this perfect woman who is self-sacrificing and listens to what others tell her and really... Serves everyone around her and doesn't think of herself and puts everyone before herself. And I think what this does is it pushes us into this like feeling of needing to be a perfectionist where we could be judged for any little flaw, because that's kind of how it is.

Like when I would see certain family members because I had tattoos or at one point, I dyed my hair red or they didn't like the way that I dressed or whatever it was. They would point that thing out and be like, maybe this is why you're not married. Maybe this is why you don't have a boyfriend. Maybe this is why.

And it's like, it makes you become so self-critical. And it really, for a long time, got into my head that, like, I wouldn't be worthy of having a partner because I was constantly criticized for any little thing that didn't appear to be perfect. So again, what that did was really further disconnected me from Who I am to my core, and I was, I just, I hated being bad at things because it made me feel so bad about myself.

They put this expectation, like we just have to be this perfect image. And even to our bodies, the way we do our hair, the way we do our makeup, every little choice, every little decision, the way we carry ourselves in public, like we're not allowed to make these mistakes. And if we do, we're shamed for them.

And people talk about you for that. And like, it's like, it makes it feel like you can't live it down or you can't let go of this thing or forgive yourself because people will kind of like keep reminding you of those mistakes. And so, it just really stinks that it's so normalized for us to be criticized in that way.

And for it to mean that we're not worthy of being loved. That is such a deep issue for so many women, feeling like we're not worthy. Of being loved, because we didn't sacrifice enough of ourselves, or because we have too many emotions, or because we're not perfect, or we're not being quaint and agreeable, or we're dressing a certain way, and we can't trust ourselves, and like, you have all this self-doubt that is normalized and pushed onto you.

That's so unfair, and we have to stand up to that. We have to do that inner work and really see the root of where all of these beliefs are coming from within us. Like, there is so much power in being a woman, and I freaking love that now. Before I couldn't see that. Before I didn't understand it. Because society, my lineage, everyone was telling me that it was a weakness.

That I had to somehow fight harder, or just close my mouth and just let whatever happens to me happen to me. That has put so many women in painful positions. I do this work because I want to help the collective heal from this. I want my ancestors and future generations to heal from this. I don't want to perpetuate this.

Being a woman is the most beautiful gift. That I could have been given in this lifetime. I'm so grateful for that. It is such a sacred honor. And that's how we should get to see it. I really hope these lands well for you. Again, you guys always know, I love to have these conversations. If this lands well, Or if you're feeling the same way, or if you're ready to heal this and let this go so that you don't pass this on to your children, I am here to support you.

I love this cause, and I love the concept of female empowerment, embodiment, understanding of what it means. To have that sacred sisterhood and to be connected to other women in that way so that we can rise up and reclaim our power that has been taken away from us through these societal conditionings that we have.

It's time to end that. It's time to heal it. It's time to rise up and reclaim your power, baby. I'm so excited for this. I hope this episode found you well and I'm really looking forward to the next few episodes. I'm gonna have some awesome guests on here. So yeah, thanks for listening. Post this episode, tag me, write a review.

That means so much. Your support goes so far for me. And so, any little thing that you do, even if it's a DM, even if it's a like, I really appreciate it. Thanks so much for listening and I'll catch you guys in the next episode. Love you. Bye.



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