10 Gender Narratives to Let Go of in Your Self-Development Journey

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Behavior scientist and lifestyle design coach, Gianna Biscontini, shares her insight.

The science of human behavior tells us that it’s not always what we add — bath bombs, luxe loungewear, or that new filter — but what we remove that helps us improve, reduce stress and clear the way for a more fulfilling life. This can sometimes require us to take a mindful pause, breathe deeply and take a good hard look at where we are in order to recalibrate for where we want to go.

It can be extremely uncomfortable, but as they say — we can’t move around, we must move through. Here’s why:

When we avoid uncomfortable thoughts or events — like taking a day to pause, rest and think about our lives — this is called experiential avoidance. It actually maintains or exacerbates psychological distress. Conversely, when we bravely take action and embrace challenges as opportunities for improvement, we can receive positive results in return. This makes it exponentially more likely we will face adversity, gain confidence and continue to make healthy changes in the future.

Empower yourself to create a mini-challenge of your own this week. Below are the ten most limiting gender narratives that hold women back along with suggestions for how to change these beliefs through your own actions:

Be Small Challenge this: Physically open your body (laying down or standing with arms and legs spread wide) and look to the sky. Speak one truth you’ve been holding back with grace, love and power.

Be Soft Challenge this: Do one thing that makes you feel strong or seen today, like advocating for yourself. We rarely recruit strength until life calls for it, but this is also in our control.

Be Fixed Challenge this: Choose one physical or mental attribute you’ve spent time and energy on fixing for someone else and find love for it instead.

Bonus: research the Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi and use it as a guide.

Be Dependent Challenge this: Write down the things you would do if you had a partner (romantic, business or otherwise). Do you truly need to be dependent upon someone else for every one of those dreams, activities, desires?

Be Chosen Challenge this: Enjoy a date with yourself. Plan a museum visit, a lunch or simply a long walk in a new neighborhood.

Be Stifled Challenge this: Feel your emotions, out loud! What injustices do you face today? What breaks your heart? Who do you need to set boundaries with out of pure self love? Scream, shake (really) and let it out.

Be Less Challenge this: Make a move that sets you exactly where you want to be without entertaining the belief that you are less worthy (than a man or the person next to you). State your reasons for a promotion or divide household chores evenly with your partner.

Be the Exception Challenge this: Help yourself or another female change a gender-based narrative, fill a role or complete an activity typically reserved for men. Did you know you could pay to race cars?!

Be Everything Challenge this: Be nothing. For an hour or a day. Notice your compulsion to serve, support, or check things off your to-do list. Leisure and silence is underrated. As a neuroscience-based meditation teacher I can tell you this will cause a necessary but uncomfortable shift.

Be Sexy… but Sweet Challenge this: Update your definition of sexy according to you. Powerful, creative, dominant, submissive, nurturing…

Keep this list somewhere in your home as a visual prompt to remind you that change is always possible. Pro Tip: move it’s location every two weeks to avoid habituating (becoming “blind”) to it!

We Want to Hear From You

What gender norms do you think are important to drop?

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