When Canadian entrepreneur Arlene Dickinson found herself as a single parent with five young children, she went back home with her kids to live with her dad, depressed and with a sense of helplessness.
Miserable, depressed and feeling helpless, Dickinson said she sat on the couch and cried almost every day. One day, her dad asked her what she was doing. “Can’t you see I am having a pity party?” she sobbed. “Well who do you think is going to solve the problems you have gotten into?” he asked. “Maybe you dad,” she sobbed. Firmly but gently he responded, “No not me. You have to solve them. You got yourself here, now it is up to you to figure out a way to get yourself out of here. Nobody can think for you or act for you.”
That did it. From that day on, Dickinson began taking the needed steps to solve her problems.
She went off and found a job in marketing, and has since become one of Canada’s most renowned independent marketers, a venture capitalist and a respected member of the Canadian version of the TV show Dragon’s Den.
How many of us have at some point felt those depressing thoughts, like Dickinson – stuck on the couch, having a pity party, unable to think through the next step to take as we watch our life unraveling before us? Understanding the historical, even ancient, beliefs underpinning why we feel that way can be a step towards freedom.
From the depressing story of Eve, compliantly accepting the apple offered by the serpent, women have been pegged as suggestible, troublesome, emotional and unable to think for themselves; further, that they are weak and at the mercy of human events. And women often accept that for themselves.
In a New York Times article, “Medicating Women’s Feelings,” author Julie Holland points out this view of women as emotional and under constant pressure to restrain those feelings. But she also exposes an important and disturbing hidden health hazard for many who try to control their emotions with antidepressants and painkillers. Using various medications to “control” the emotions is no new trend – remember the “smelling salts” of the Victorian era? However, the inherent side effects of modern powerful drugs, and the fact that many women end up addicted, is a grave health concern. A recent study showed that one in four women in North America is taking some form of antidepressants, and that women are increasingly dying from overuse of painkillers. Clearly we need a rethink.
At a time when Dickinson really needed it, rethinking is just what her father did. He clearly saw his daughter from a different perspective. He did not recommend that she go to the doctor for a prescription. He spoke to her as if she were what he both saw and knew – a capable woman who could think for herself. And she responded.
Dickinson, who shares her story on the inspiring website makers.com, is a pioneer in many ways. As an entrepreneur and investor she champions others who are exploring new ideas and then helps to market them. She follows a long line of pioneering women who clearly disregarded the idea of women as prisoners of their emotions and circumstances. From Hildegard de Bingen, a musical genius of the 12th century, to Valentina Tereshkova, the first female astronaut in the 1960’s, women continue to successfully challenge the myth of Eve to this very day.
But the ideas of one woman, Mary Baker Eddy, take us deeper than just appreciating this or that individual woman’s achievements and experiences. She pioneered the depths of the spiritual view of womanhood that doesn’t just challenge the Eve myth; it replaces it with something far better.
That something is the enlightened view of womanhood as composed of qualities stemming from the Divine, rather than from a long, sinful human lineage. Writing and speaking at a time when it was frowned upon for women to do so, especially about matters of spirituality and health, Eddy wrote, “The human thought must free itself from self-imposed materiality and bondage.” She saw that, we can recognize and bring out our individual and wholly balanced nature on a regular and reliable spiritual basis.
This view offers women practical mental, emotional and physical freedom, both in a work setting and at home. It brings confidence, intelligence and stamina to the human experience, without losing the gentleness, intuition and compassion many women already express so beautifully.
As long as we hold to the depressing belief that everything we do and everything that happens to us stems purely from a physiological and emotional standpoint, we are shackled to Eve – a victim and prisoner of a merely material heritage.
Discovering that original connection with the Divine reveals new and empowering ways to see ourselves, and each other. We can challenge the Eve myth, and find our liberty to think and act freely, calmly and intelligently.