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Explore Life Coaching, Patti Phillips

Choose to Challenge

This year’s International Women’s Day (March 8) theme for 2021 is “Choose to Challenge”. It seems to me to be the most appropriate theme for our times. So many of the ideas about gender, race, sexuality, the economy, history, and many other topics that have been presented as “truth”, have come into question. FINALLY.

Of course this article itself is just an expression of my own ideas based on the questions I’ve asked myself. I don’t expect readers to receive it as truth or fact. I invite you to choose to challenge what I’m expressing. Explore your own understanding of this theme and how it fits in your life. Ask and answer your own questions.

Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass, talks about there being multiple ways of knowing things. One way is through science, research and measurements. Science can answer true/false questions, based on consistent results. It is quantitative.

Is there a pay gap between women and men in Canada? True

Is the Coronavirus more harmful than the flu? True

Is the world flat? False

Does systemic racism exist? True

Is climate change real? True

What science cannot answer is right/wrong questions. Science can’t answer questions of morality or prove things as true or false when opinions, perspectives, beliefs, etc. differ from person to person and culture to culture. All that science can prove is that there are differences.

Is it right or wrong that there is a pay gap between men and women in Canada?

Is it right or wrong that people die from Coronavirus?

Is it right or wrong that some people believe that the world is flat?

Is it right or wrong that many systems still deny the existence of racism?

The International Women’s Day website states this:

A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.

We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.

From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.

The idea that a challenged world is an alert world stands out for me. It’s just like awareness.

In all of the coaching services that I provide, from personal growth to grief recovery to authentic living to navigating into life’s second half to setting intentions on retreats, the first step to change and growth is always awareness. This is followed by acceptance. Then aspiration. And the final step is action.

I’d like to toss in a couple of other “c” words (along with challenge) that support the process of change.

It takes “courage” to challenge, both ourselves and others.

To challenge ourselves may mean we come to admit some of the ideas we’ve believed are not actually true. We’ll need to come to a place of accepting our own biases, admitting to being human, and taking responsibility to make changes within ourself.

It takes courage to make changes in ourselves because when we change, our relationships change.

When challenging others or the status quo, there are real, possible consequences. From minor disagreement with a loved one, to rejection and breakdown of relationships, to getting fired, to physical harm.

It takes courage to challenge others’ perspectives, because it may not result in the result we hope for.

It also takes a good dose of “compassion” when choosing to challenge.

Compassion for ourselves when we realize the “truths” that we’ve held have caused harm to others.

And compassion for those who do not challenge or question because the systems they’ve learned in/from did not provide space for questions. When we choose to challenge from a place of compassion and curiousity, there’s a chance our question becomes planted as a seed that may grow to change. A challenge presented as a demand or with judgment will most likely land like a seed thrown on to concrete, with no chance to germinate.

The International Women’s Day website provides a range of pledges we can make as we choose to challenge.

These are my pledges:

  • I will help forge a gender equal world.
  • I will maintain a gender equal mindset.
  • I will challenge gender stereotypes and biases.
  • I will call out gendered assumptions.
  • I will forge positive visibility of women.
  • I will try to influence others’ beliefs and actions.
  • I will celebrate women’s achievements.

I challenge you, yes YOU, to make at least two pledges.

If you want to spend some time on the International Women’s Day website, I suggest starting here and listening to the spoken word poem half way down the page.

#Choose to Challenge

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