• Catherine Hansen MD, MPH

Own Your Story - Illuminate the way

In the past 5 years I’ve been working with women who are seeking to up-level life. Most are looking to get healthy, deepen marriages, parent more consciously or gain clarity on life’s purpose. All big things!

Truly, women inspire me every single day and, since shifting my work from purely clinical office gynecology to include personal coaching and mentoring, I’ve witnessed incredible transformations in women ready for change.

Recently, it’s come to my attention that there is a key element often overlooked as women aspire to find fulfillment in their lives and it’s not an obvious ingredient to personal growth. In fact, it may be counterintuitive.

In order to fully become yourself, you must learn to “own” your heroine story. We all have one.

An interesting thing about women is that we are really good at complementing others and not so good at seeing our own strengths. Changing the narrative of that chatty roommate in your head is not as simple as layering on positive affirmations. While positive self-talk will work temporarily, our brain has a way of bringing us back to the old pattern rather quickly. To incite permanent change in how we view ourselves (and, hence, what we tell ourselves) we need to dig deeper than the thoughts and root out the old beliefs. If you’ve done any work with me, we’ve shared that process and it takes courage to “go there” so celebrate how far you’ve come!

Now, I’m going to take your hand and guide you through a practice that aims to be reflective, inspirational and leave you evermore grounded in self-confidence.

This is simple but not easy so take your time and return to this exercise multiple times on your growth journey. In all honesty, this is an every day work-in-progress for me.

You will find that each time you return to yourself, you embed your strength and power deeper into your bones.

Here we go….

Ask yourself (and write down the answers):

1. What challenges have you experienced and overcome? Sometimes it’s easier to name what you are MOST proud of in your life.

· Start with the very first thing that comes to mind and return later to explore more

2. How did you overcome this challenge? (Tell the story as if you are telling someone else or watching your life like a movie). Remain focused on YOUR PART in this event, no one else will ever read your story (unless you want them to).

· What did you do, say or organize?

· How did you act?

· What were the feelings you had as you worked your way through this challenge?

· What do you feel really good about after emerging from this adversity?



· Be the badass, wonder woman in your story - really "own" it!

Here are 2 examples from my own life for you to use if they resonate:

· When my kids were young, I was angry at having to ‘single-parent’ them with my spouse away, enjoying his work and stretching his capacity. I felt trapped, alone and inadequate in my ability to parent. It was hard. Any woman in my situation would have felt stretched and challenged. After recognizing this as the tribulation that it was, I started a difficult uphill journey. I explored ways to discover my truth as a capable parent, I took responsibility for the tension I created in my marriage and learned to cultivate true joy in the chaos.

· When I was faced with negotiating a healthcare system that felt outside my core values, I felt trapped, inadequate and paralyzed by fear that I would lose my identity without a big, important University position. With resources and support, I courageously decided to transition to other forms of healthcare that, to me, felt in greater service to the patients and women I was serving. I expanded into a new mission for my life, one that was aligned, authentic and purposeful. The joy has been immense; the results for the women I serve, inexplicable.

· You’ll notice the themes of ‘trapped’, ‘alone’ and ‘inadequate’ until I made an extremely difficult but necessary pivot to find expansive joy. These examples span the last decade of my life. These are not short term, quick fix, life events - yours aren't either - dig deep and celebrate you!

Your themes may be different than mine but you HAVE come through struggle and the more specifically you can feel and explain those ordeals, the better you will be at acknowledging how hard it was and how powerful you are to have persisted.

As you reflect on and write the events of your life that were the hardest to negotiate, there is no doubt that you will feel there were things you could have done better (we all feel that way). The goal is to take responsibility for the scenes of your movie that you knew were challenging and, despite the struggle, you emerged victorious. It’s vital to acknowledge the parts of your story when you conquered and met triumph (just as other women would see you).

Why is it so important to do own your story?

Women seem to wonder why they just can't be humble and subdued in remembering their heroine story. How does recollecting the tragedies and triumphs create solid ground for self-confidence?

It comes down to the fact that women often feel ‘bad’ when things go wrong – they internalize the failure as something is wrong with who they are. Men, on the other hand, innately know that their failure is just a reflection of something they didn’t DO well - a behavior that is modifiable – they just need to try again.

When it comes to struggle: Women make it about identity; men make it about behavior. Women make it about self; men make it about circumstance.

On the flip side, men see their victories as telling of who they ARE and reflective of their identity as a powerful person. However, women will fail to celebrate their strengths looking at life struggles as ‘one-offs’ or something they were forced to endure and/or may not be replicable.

We see the positives as events in our life, not necessarily indicative of WHO WE ARE as successful super-achievers.

Is it any wonder that men take more chances, bounce back faster and enjoy their ‘nothing box’ whereas women hold back, emerge more slowly and ruminate on that voice in their head?

Women are notorious for celebrating others and minimizing their own success and, by doing that, we keep our light dim. When we dim down, others around us feel that they too must play small and we end up holding others back, especially those who count on us to role-model confidence.

When we own our brilliance, we illuminate the way for other women to step up and out and, by seeing us express our truth, others draw from that wellspring of confidence.

As we become more self-confident, we hold space for others to do the same.

You are not just owning your heroine story for yourself, you are telling it so that others can share theirs.

Shine your light sister – other women need your radiance to see the way!

All Events listed HERE: https://www.ewcircle.com/events

Gather in Circle with other women: https://www.ewcircle.com/diamonds

Dr. Hansen's Weekly "Woman to Woman" HERE

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