Getting Out of Our Own Way
In her recent interview in Time Magazine’s March edition and in her TED.com talk which received over 2 million views, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s powerhouse Chief Operating Officer speaks to why women still have not achieved equality in the workforce. She acknowledges that very real barriers still exist like sexism, discrimination, a lack of flexibility, access to child care and parental leave. She also states an additional belief that “women can dismantle the internal barriers holding us back today.”
What stood out for me about Sandberg is that she dares to speak about what women do to ourselves, our internal barriers, our beliefs and actions. Sandberg’s refreshing perspective is one that I am grateful for. So often we think about what others are doing or what we perceive is being done to us.
We spend enormous amounts of time and precious energy on trying to change external factors to create the life, career and relationships we want. We ask others to change, we attribute stress in the workplace to what our boss said or did, we blame the government, we blame our parents.
While it may be a huge problem that your boss is a control freak or your parents continue to be withdrawn and judgmental for example, the point here is what can you do about it? Just like Sandberg acknowledges sexism and discrimination still very much exist, she also believes the power lies within ourselves to create change by what we believe and how we act.
To be clear, this is very different then saying we are at fault for what happens to us or around us. To me Sandberg is saying that we have agency over our situations and that it is possible to create more sustainable and fulfilling lives if we start with ourselves first.
So how do we do this? How do we shift our perspectives and thoughts that may be holding us back? This is not an easy task but there are some questions you can ask yourself that begin the process of shifting perceptions.
For example, the next time you are in a situation and you catch yourself thinking a limiting belief that holds you back like “I can’t do this” or “I am not good enough” stop and ask yourself, “is my belief really true?” Most likely your answer will be “no.” If it does still feel true for you then ask yourself, “is my belief true in all situations?” Take a moment to think about what evidence exists that your limiting belief is not true.
Then challenge yourself further and state the exact opposite of your limiting belief with the evidence attached. For example “I can do this because . . .”
How would you show up differently in the world if your newly stated belief is true? Would you take more chances, feel more confident, empowered?
I believe this is what Sheryl Sandberg wants for women, to shift those barriers within us, the ones we put there ourselves. In doing so, more women will reach further, go for the promotion, become a leader, find a partner that’s truly a partner and achieve higher levels of success and fulfillment.
Marianne Williamson writes, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shana Hiranandani shares a home with her two boys, her partner of 12 years, a big dog and a small cat in the Pioneer Valley of Western MA. Shana earned a B.A. in Psychology from UMass Amherst and a M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Antioch New England College. Shana is a Board Certified Life and Career Coach, offering consultations from her office in Florence, MA. Her monthly column offers parenting perspectives from a Jewish-Indian-American, 2-mommy household.