Did your parents and care-givers read fairy tales over and over when you were a child? Did you watch movies, where the male lead would come in and rescue the damsel in distress?
Fairy tales programmed into us
When I was a kid, I remember all of the fairy tales where the lead Princess or female character would be portrayed as reliant on her Prince. Where Rapunzel for instance, was saved by the Prince, where Cinders had the Prince rescue her from her evil stepmother and step sisters and Snow White was woken from her cursed slumber by her Prince.
The picture we build
Of course, if we were repeatedly fed these types of stories from our early years in childhood (our most impressionable years), it makes sense that women will be led to believe that Love is about your knight in shining armour… about the man that will come in and save you from your troubles.
The same applies in the reverse, where young boys are raised with stories of the role they need to play in a woman’s life – the hero, the rescuer, the protector. And notice how we never get past the getting together? The man rescues the woman and they live happily ever after… the stories stop right there. They fail to demonstrate how the connection works, how they get to learn each other to make it work. They fail to get to the real bit.
What this does is encourage young girls to develop a collective, societally encouraged expectation that she should depend and rely on a man to resolve all her pains, instead of working them out on her own. She becomes trapped in a system of someone else’s expectations and she’s obligated to play the role because the world shows her it’s the way.
At the same time, young men are led to believe that their experience is all about being the hero for a woman, instead of working on and through their own pains, so that they can come in as an equal someday. He becomes trapped in a portrayal of what it looks like to be a man externally (alpha, masculine, provider, protector), instead of focusing on the wounds inside his heart and mind because that’s what society has led him to believe.
The world we live in
Imagine the subconscious expectation and condition built up over years that a man can come and take away all of your problems. Imagine the pressure on young boys and later, young men in feeling obligated to fulfil and meet these expectations. Imagine the damage we’re doing to our daughters and sons… is this the world we choose to continue to live in?
The mass market and media continue to demonstrate that a woman needs a man. The truth is that strong, independent women don’t need a man. They choose to create space for a healthy, loving connection that is equal and based on mutual respect and reciprocation.
Changing the story
It’s time to change the story and the canvas of what we’re telling our future generations, so that we can create healthy, sustainable connections instead of connections that are based on outdated societal expectations and pressures.
How about we teach young girls to be their own hero – to find their authentic Self, to focus on their dreams, needs and goals, to develop interpersonal skills, be in touch with their feelings, learn to express themselves fearlessly and to own their true 'being' whatever that looks like to each individual?
How about we teach young boys to focus on their goals, dreams and vision, to accept and communicate their feelings, to be self-sufficient and real, so that when they’re ready they can come in and meet a partner who doesn’t come with the pressure of depending on them, placing expectations on them to save her, but allows him to be?
The fairy tales and societal expectations of the past deeply impact both men and women today. Let’s change the stories we tell future generations today, so that we teach them about self-love, self-care, acceptance and independence. Being our own heroes frees others from expectation and obligation, which allows them to come from a place of real, true and unconditional love.
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