What associations do you have with strength and power? Are they loud and aggressive? They can be, but not always, says Well+Good Council member and Mama Glow founder Latham Thomas. There’s also an often-under-appreciated type of fortitude: the quieter, more still power that is changing the world. Here, Thomas explains how to find it—and use it!—in your own life.
We live in a culture where the dominant force is loudness: being seen, being loud, and making your voice heard. Even that term is forceful; it’s making your voice heard, not letting your voice be heard. Right now, we’re seeing a cultural display of what brute, noisy strength can look like.
Strength is also about listening, speaking when necessary, and knowing what to say.
But actually, strength doesn’t always shout out its existence. There are people who live in quietude, and they are some of the most powerful forces on the planet. There are also different ways to approach situations that don’t involve strong-arming people to see your way, but instead, learning to watch and respond. Strength is about listening, speaking when necessary, knowing what to say, and being able to deliver the right message at that time. You can only do that if you’re present and aware of what’s going on.
One time, a woman told me that I needed to speak up about something that I had witnessed. She said that I was being weak by not speaking up—that I come from strong women, so how come I wouldn’t exert myself and be strong? I started beating myself up about the fact that I didn’t have the same way of approaching the world.
Then I took a moment to reflect and realized, I just have different gifts.
A stranger will walk over to me and tell me their life story because they feel safe. That’s a gift.
I actually can walk into a room, tell that someone was crying, and respond. That’s a gift. Or as a doula, I can disarm a room of people so that a mother can feel safe enough to give birth. That’s a gift. A stranger will walk over to me and tell me their life story because they feel safe. That’s a gift. It wasn’t that I was afraid of conflict; it was more that I had a different way of handling it. Realizing that was a gift, too.
Listening, being present, having empathy: These are unsung gifts. A lot of times, the yin energy that we have inside—energy that’s softer, supple, receptive, non-reactive but responsive—can suit the times that we live in. Sometimes we can’t approach conflict with more conflict. Sometimes, it’s more powerful to use tools of compassion to approach a tough situation.
Look at the power of women and at the cultural shift happening right now. Women are being placed on a global stage and are telling their stories—stories that were silenced in the past. Women are challenging the status quo through truth-telling, coming into their vulnerability, and speaking up. In doing so, they are changing the world.
I think that it’s important to think about how we leverage soft power. In our society, everything is designed for men, so we’re functioning in settings that aren’t designed for us. When you do that long enough, you’re going to have a lot of the qualities that it takes to sustain yourself in those environments. But when we have time to be in community with other women, we basically peel back the layers of some of this armor that we’re carrying so that we can get to the soft and squishy and really powerful aspect of our vulnerability. Because that’s our strength, too: to be vulnerable, to be emotive, to be truthful, to be accepting, to be inclusive. These are all strengths that are divinely feminine. We can use these in our favor.
If you want more of that kind of energy in your life, attending a women’s circle can be powerful. They are transformative spaces where there’s an energy transmission around community, self-care, reflection, purpose, and activation. Women can ignite something collectively as well as individually—and be witnessed and supported in that so that they can transform into the women they’re meant to become. And in my view, that’s a pretty amazing goal for 2018.
Latham Thomas is a master manifestor and the founder of Mama Glow, a healthy gal’s guide to actualization in the modern world. Her second book, Own Your Glow, was recently published by Hay House Inc.
Make 2018 your healthiest, happiest, and richest yet—with a little help from Well+Good’s (Re)New Year program!