Our Mental Blocks Can Be Broken
While writing my morning pages today, I thought about an exercise I did yesterday afternoon to try to release my money blocks. Immediately, I got a vision of a huge cinder block, one of many, really, which had been chained to me for as long as I could remember. In the vision, I saw the chains being removed and the blocks falling away.
It occurred to me that our blocks, money or otherwise, are equivalent to those cinder blocks because, in their own way, they weigh us down and prevent us from moving, not just forward, but in any direction. We are, in essence, held in place by the weight of the blocks we carry.
Getting in Touch With What Stands in Our Way
It was suggested I sit outside yesterday and just make a list of the blocks and beliefs which keep me from asking for compensation equivalent to the value I provide, to not just see the “bad” or “negative” aspects of those thoughts, but also how they’re doing me good as well. Three or four pages later, I had a list, but I had also started writing about why I can ask for fees which are on the same level as men I’ve come into contact with over the years who had similar skill levels and experience, but in some cases, a lot less talent than me. I realized when I thought about it that what they were charging 5 years ago for their services was as much as 5 times more than what I charge today! And do you know what? I couldn’t think of a single reasonable excuse for harboring such low expectations.
In fact, I didn’t even feel the usual “but you don’t have your CPA license” dogma come into the equation. Why? Because I’m not looking for clients who need audit or tax advice. I am providing business services either acquired through my years of experience working for various companies, or knowledge acquired through reading or talking to other people who have some knowledge I needed. Either way, I have as much or more justification for charging at least equivalent rates to the men who were contracted by previous employers to perform a task which, at the time, was outside my scope, or simply above and beyond my part in a project and not achievable even with the number of hours I had available.
The only differentiation here is that they were men, and were hired by men who had no qualms paying other men so much more than they would pay a woman. But it’s my fault as well, because I didn’t insist on being paid what I was truly worth. Over time, it was reflected in my work because I was less and less willing to go above and beyond with my efforts when my employers were unwilling to go above and beyond with my compensation the way they did with the men in the company’s employ, both as salaried employees and contractors. Yet the end result was displeasure with myself for lowering both my expectations and my deliverables.
Leaving Our Doormat Mentality Behind
Yes, in some ways, we woman are part of our own solution, but there are a lot of paradigms we have to shift in order to make that happen. In many ways, I believe that starts with ourselves. Once we convince ourselves and our female employers of our true value, and start achieving it, the flow can be broadened to encompass the more resistant males. They’ve grown accustomed to getting away with paying women less. Women have accepted less just so they could get a job. We’ve allowed men to “jew” us down, believing their lies that they can get the job done by anyone with our skills at half the price, or that this job is the best one we can get. Our shortsightedness makes us focus on the immediacy of making enough to feed, house, and clothe our families, instead of on the long-term implications of a job that allows us only to get by.
Years ago, I left a job because I was given the option of a demotion and cut in pay, or a lay off. I knew there had been a lot of collusion between management and my less-than-competent male co-worker for such a ridiculous offer to be made, so I chose the obvious response and took the layoff. Surprised at my decision, the manager said to me “But you need this job.”. I looked him square in the eye and said “I need a job. I don’t need this job.”
Taking Responsibility for Our Own Undervaluation
I laugh when I think about it because I took some skills they needed with me when I left, and for a couple of weeks, various members of their staff called me at home asking where things were. I finally had to threaten legal action if they didn’t stop calling and harassing me, as the calls had degenerated into accusations of misconduct and even theft. It was the first time I took the long view instead of the short one, and in fact, it was my former employer who failed to see they were being played by a man with the ethics of a junkyard dog. (In fact, he cooked the books for a law firm with somewhat shady business practices until the authorities clipped their wings, leaving him jobless.)
What I’ve always known, but clearly shoved to the back of my brain was that, as a woman, I have historically allowed men and frankly, other people as a whole to determine my value. I laid down and accepted their meager pittance of an assessment because the work I do doesn’t provide an obvious return on their investment. Of course, part of the problem is my lack of a certain body part too. For some reason, value to a company has a connection to something which typically has no true impact on the work being done!
I’ve been very good at making excuses for undervaluing my work. Whether it’s lack of a particular license or education, or failure to be visible to a market which would see the value in what I can offer, I have, for decades, stood in my own way. The worst part of it is, I know I’m not alone. Over the years, I’ve worked with many women who worked 10 times harder than men in equal or even higher level positions, yet were paid on average about 75% of what the men made to do the same job. We’ve accepted smaller raises and excuses which, had we known it, were not passed off to the men in the company. The truth is, we got the minuscule examples of recognition so the men, and all-too-often, the company owners could justify walking away with more.
Sure, it used to be that a woman’s income supplemented that brought in by the man of the house. But those days are long past. Women make up a huge percentage of primary wage-earners these days, and as such, struggle to give their families the same level of comfort as their male counterparts.
Destroying the Blocks Built On Our Lies
Before this turns into a full-on rant about wage equality, I’m going to try to return to my original train of thought, and that is the blocks we set for ourselves. Whether it’s money, visibility, or anything else we want to achieve, we get in our own ways too often by telling ourselves fat, ugly lies.
Lies like “I don’t deserve it”, or “other people are better at it than me”, or “I don’t have enough experience”, or the granddaddy of them all “I’m not worthy”. As you read those words, try to imagine them as giant cinder blocks. Now that you have the image, what’s stopping you from putting the damn things down? Where is it written that we’re supposed to carry cinder blocks around? They were meant for building, not dragging. They were also meant for knocking down when the structure they support no longer serves its original purpose, or has become weakened by age and environmental factors.
Now, picture a stack of those blocks with a giant wrecking ball crashing through them. As the ball connects with the blocks and bits of gray stone go flying in all directions, imagine the feeling of freedom you get when those blocks are neither standing in your way or needing to be dragged. They’re simply gone just as the energetic, emotional, mental ones can be if you give them a physical presence, but just long enough to feel the satisfaction of smashing them down, or better still, blowing them up like they do outdated hotels in Las Vegas. Plant the dynamite, and BOOM! A decades-old structure is reduced to a pile of rubble in a matter of moments.
The stories and lies you’ve been telling yourself deserve the same fate. Sure, it’s a simplistic approach, but maybe one or two can be leveled so you can get to the ones which are more pernicious.
When the Waiting is Over, Get Moving
Over and over, I’m reminded of a book I read last year by Sue Monk Kidd called “When the Heart Waits”. She refers, throughout the book to the idea of a caterpillar going into a cocoon where it waits for its body to reform, then emerges as a butterfly. The body of a caterpillar is limiting, but it’s a good place to grow and learn. Eventually, we all have to shed the confines of our learning self to come into our magnificence. There is no particular time limit on it. We all emerge from our cocoon in our own time.
In my case, it took me over 6 decades. I know it is exactly the right amount of time for me. I cannot measure my life by anyone else’s, nor do I any more. (Aside from the afore-mentioned monetary value for services. But even there, it’s not so much a measurement as a realization that I’d been measuring myself in inches rather than yards.)
There comes a time when each and every one of us have to take stock and make changes. Sadly, far too many wait until they’re on their death bed to do so. Fear will hold many back from emerging from the cocoon. Fear will drive others to leave because they don’t want to be stuck there for the rest of their lives. I am the latter. How abut you?
Reflections and Gratitude
My gratitudes today are:
- I am grateful for the people who are coming into my life to help me remove old, tired, out-dated blocks to emergence from my own cocoon.
- I am grateful for the ability to craft a blog post even when I start without a single viable idea.
- I am grateful for friends who are honest with me rather than trying to tell me what I want to hear. What I need to hear is far more valuable.
- I am grateful for the busyness which is characterizing 2018, even in the first month of the year. It bodes well for my many plans and adventures.
- I am grateful for abundance; words to write, ideas to flow, people to meet, opportunities becoming successes, acquaintances becoming friendships, hardships becoming lessons, encouragement, love, joy, challenges, health, harmony, peace, prosperity, generosity, and philanthropy.
Love and Light
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. Her specialties are finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author