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Claiming your own space can be difficult when so many of us have learned to be small. That’s especially true for women. This week’s guest joins us as a Transformation Teacher, sharing exactly how you can claim the space that belongs to you and become the most empowered version of yourself.
Eliza VanCort knows exactly what it means to build oneself up in the face of challenges, after being kidnapped as a child when her mother developed late-onset schizophrenia and later relearning to communicate after being hit by a car. VanCort learned that to move past challenges, we have to take one small step at a time.
Tune in to the episode to learn more about VanCort’s journey and her tips for moving past fear to empower yourself.
GIVING OTHERS THE GRACE AND TOOLS TO BE WHO THEY WANT TO BE
From her own experience in facing her own privilege and biases, and through her work helping others to see the effects of their behavior, VanCort learned that people generally think of themselves as good people and want to be good people.
They often don’t know what they’re doing or how it affects others, so VanCort focuses on coming from a place of grace and of helping them be who they want to be, rather than accusing them. “Shaming people rarely helps them learn ... [T]hat’s the ace in the hole if you’re doing transformative work... You can say to people from a place of truth, ‘I know your intentions are good. I know this. So let me give you some tools to try to make sure that you’re acting out as the person you want to be.’”
Making a mistake doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, and VanCort emphasizes the need for everyone to understand this — both those making the mistake and those who choose to correct them.
Check out the episode to learn VanCort’s advice for dealing with microaggressions and how to help others correct their mistakes.
LEARNING THE ART OF COMMUNICATION
For those of us who are introverted or who haven’t yet learned how to assert themselves, VanCort offers help. First, she reminds listeners that all skills take practice, including essential ones like communication: “You would never go to the top of a mountain, get skis on, be pushed down, and expect to do it well. So why do we expect people to be naturals at communication?”
VanCort offers several strategies to improve your communication skills, including the strategic use of silence.
“A lot of us are taught to fear silence, particularly women because we tend to be interrupted more. So we fill our speech with filler words and sounds.” Silence can be a powerful way to make a point, so VanCort encourages people to practice strategic silence rather than padding their speech with filler words.
Tune into the episode to learn VanCort’s other strategies for learning effective communication!
“WHEN WE RISE TOGETHER, WE RISE HIGHER”
VanCort believes that “as long as we’re looking out for ourselves, we’re never going anywhere ... You [have to] look out for yourself, but you also have to look out for other people.”
She sees this manifest in the world through lingering problems of feminism and intersectionality. In her book, “A Woman’s Guide to Claiming Space: Stand Tall. Raise Your Voice. Be Heard,” she addresses intersectionality and encourages “white women [to get] their act together in terms of making sure we’re lifting up all women.”
For a while now, many people have believed that “if that one white woman goes to the top and is a CEO, it’s cool,” and it will “trickle right down to you.” VanCort doesn’t believe that’s true. “I believe that we need to lift women up on a systemic level — every woman — not just worry about the top women getting the biggest salary ever.”
VanCort also sees the lack of people looking out for others in the way power dynamics play out. “The word that I find very powerful and problematic is actually the word inclusion.” Inclusion, to her, means that the person being inclusive created and owns the space and is welcoming someone in almost as a visitor. “That’s why I think belonging is important. It’s not about including people. It’s about creating spaces for everyone.”
Check out the full episode to learn more about how high- and low-playing behaviors play into this issue of belonging, and how you can learn to “lower yourself to raise other people up.” And don’t forget to check out VanCort’s book to learn more about empowering yourself and others to become your best selves!
Many of our Motivational Mondays guests believe in the importance of building up others to create a better world. Check out how guest Blake Johnson harnesses the power of mentorship to build up his community.
Listen to this episode to learn about...
[1:18] VanCort’s experience with trauma and overcoming difficulties
[2:13] Rebuilding communication skills after head trauma
[5:33] How VanCort pursued recovery and helps others through her experiences
[7:50] Intergenerational programming and acknowledging problems
[9:30] Intersectionality and lifting up others
[11:04] Why VanCort prefers "belonging" over "inclusion"
[13:02] Why we have to look out for others
[13:46] High- and low-playing behaviors
[15:10] Lowering yourself to raise others up
[18:49] Why grace, rather than shaming, helps people learn
[21:51 A strategy for dealing with microaggression
[26:22] Advice for more effective communication
Tune into the Members Only episode to learn how mentorship can change lives.
Empower yourself with more strategies in VanCort’s book, “A Woman’s Guide to Claiming Space: Stand Tall. Raise Your Voice. Be Heard.”
Learn more about VanCort and her work at ElizaVanCort.com.
Check out some resources that VanCort values.
Find more lessons on empowerment on VanCort’s podcast, Claim Your Space.
Listen to other Motivational Mondays episodes.