I was sharing something deeply personal with a friend, an underworld issue I don’t have the answers around but I’m mucking around in, hard, like looking for something shiny in a swamp, when something she said caused me to reflect on the way we talk to each other when we’re in need of support.
When you’re working on perfecting your life, sharing experience, knowledge, experienced advice is a way others offer support. The Virgo archetype says “I have a skill, a proficiency, and I can help you.” This is great when you break down on the side of the road and need to change a flat, but you don’t know how, and a helpful stranger drives up and says, “I know how to fix this, let me help”. This is the very best of Virgo. Virgo lives to help.
But in more delicate, emotional territory the landscape is quite different. Help is not always needed, or wanted. Being helpful can become a preoccupation for an Ego invested in being helpful, advising. Advice can sound a lot like “I know a little more in this area, so, here, allow me.” I’m as guilty of this as anyone. I sadly remember a friendship I once lost, for this reason.
My friend was an aspiring author and blogger, just getting started. I was the experienced one, and I liberally shared my experiences. I thought I was being helpful, offering her my hard-earned wisdom; I had been through the school of hard knocks, and I had learned some things. Thing is (unless she was actually asking for it), she wasn’t asking for my opinions, or help. She wanted a gentle listener. Eventually, my friend not so tactfully said around me she felt like the little sister to my big sister, and that wasn’t a role she wanted to be in. Ouch.
Because I’m writing this on International Woman’s Day, I’m thinking about how our gender differentiates our lives from men’s. Women seem to be more vulnerable to having our experiences doubted, and thus, to doubting our self. Not having our voice, feelings and self, honored, is a prickly topic. It’s personal, political, omnipresent. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been told “you don’t feel that way”, “that isn’t really a problem”, “your reality just isn’t true”, i.e. “you don’t know” so many times, often by men, but also by women. Every time I was told that I don’t really have a feeling, or that my perception was not true, my inner axis of self-knowing trembled a little. Over time, a deep fault line developed called “self-doubt”.
I know I am not alone. My ex-friend doubted her self, too. A lot. She had told me numerous times that she felt invisible. Ooh and her self-doubt was like catnip for this overactive part of me who lives to help. When I heard “help me…” the helper in me replied, “Oooh, yessss!” Every time I insisted on helping her with my opinions, my advice when she didn’t ask, I crossed a line, but I honestly also felt a little set up. See how complex and crazy-making this can get?
That’s why I believe one of the most renegade things we can do as women is to say I KNOW. To stop with the self-doubt, to claim our knowing. And to help our friends see that in their self, too. Because we do know! We know things that no one else can know because we are the one doing the knowing. There’s an inner knower inside far wiser and more connected to wisdom than anyone outside us. Yes, we’re individuals with different perceptions and takes on things, but if someone doesn’t want to/can’t see what we see, that doesn’t make it untrue.
I KNOW a lie when I hear one.
I KNOW my feelings are real and reliable.
I KNOW my decisions are the right ones for me (and I can make a new one if things change).
I KNOW I can trust my perceptions.
I KNOW what that person said didn’t feel good.
I KNOW when I tune in I have infinite guidance.
I KNOW when something smells off.
This is especially relevant during this post-truth age, when lies are being sold as truth (shit gets confusing, real quick nowadays), but also within our personal lives, our special friendships. Yet when we truly honor our own knowing, we also see that we won’t always know what’s right for another. That’s how we learn to recognize when our helpful advice has become unhelpful. It is not our role to hold answers for another (super tricky when you’re in a job like mine),… but to hold the questions. When my Virgo goes into overdrive, I remember to pull on humility. It’s a subtle art, offering the support of wisdom, skill and experience while graciously allowing another person to have their own.
When Virgo and Pisces work together they do so, beautifully. I recently started taking yoga class again after not doing so for two years because I felt yoga had become competitive Ego yoga — at least in Marin. So when I went back in it was with an attitude of self acceptance. I wasn’t there to do the perfect pose, to push myself technically. Frankly, I was a bit rebellious about oh-so-serious yoga. But when the teacher came by and corrected my bent elbows during the downward dog, I noticed how that allowed my shoulders to relax, and I was grateful for her sage, instructive Virgo advice.
At this Virgo Full Moon, you can bring helpful, advisory, proficient Virgo -and- knowing, flowing, accepting Pisces into yoga (union) in your life. Everyone already has the answers, inside, even if they haven’t realized it, and the lovely thing about Pisces is this archetype doesn’t hold anyone to a standard of perfection. It trusts in knowing. Yet sometimes Virgo holds the technical detail we are missing, the little thing that can make a world of difference.
As we support one another, our inner attitude of knowing, or doubt, can be a moving target, and even subject to misinterpretation at times. But when you train your self to consistently return to your knowing, when you return to I KNOW over and over again, self-doubt gradually dissipates. You stop giving your knowing to someone else. And that, my friends, is true freedom.