Is Your Fear of Being a Weak Woman Holding You Back From Success?

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There’s a part of me that’s so concerned with not looking weak – I wonder if that’s the single biggest hurdle I face to being the most ecstatically amazing me I can be – and certainly intend to be. This “not looking weak” thing is almost as strong as my fear of “not being nice.”

I’m not sure how much of this is from my family and how much is from the culture, and school, and how I grew up in the first phases of Feminism and how it seems so “old hat” now.

I only know that I have to figure this out. Along with fear of “success” and being “greater than anyone I knew growing up,” this fear of being “weak” or “not nice” is like a ball and chain around my ankle.

I’ll be writing more posts about this, and I’d love to hear from you. If you’re feeling this, too – sort of caught between what you want and the old tapes running around inside your head, write to me and comment here.

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  1.  #1Christine on September 16, 2008 at 8:10 am

    I too struggle with overfunctioning and the difference between feeling “weak” and being “vulnerable” and working hard at not being a cactus. I own my own business and have always been successful in my career. That part of my life has not been good lately and I am now getting back on track, however my guy has seen me break down several times about it. It appears he thinks I’m weak and has said you let people walk all over you, when his version would be to take everyone to court (extremist).

    How do you be vulnerable and still strong? I’m having difficulty with this and it has been in our relationship for a long time. He is a very strong, assertive mail energy and I know we bump heads about things. But he also likes it when I’m assertive as well. Help!

  2.  #2Jane on March 4, 2010 at 8:48 pm


    I relate to this so much. I grew up with a father that I am seeing more and more…..treated me the same as the boys. He was a ski coach and wanted me to be on the youth ski team that he coached. I may have been the only girl along with 10 boys. One of the appealing things about being on the team was the contact i had with the boys… (how else do you get their attention???) I knew that to gain my fathers approval and admiration I had to excel at skiing fast and competeting with the boys. I had to hide my fear and my discomfort. I grew up thinking that thats what men wanted a girl who could rival them in skiing and be “one of the guys”. “Hanging in” and “efforting” became the norm. My father ridiculed me when I showed my vuneralibilty…” I’m going to go to the lodge…I’m cold”. My father never forgave me for dropping out of that ski team. I knew I wasnt that good and my preteen girl body didnt like being pushed like a boy of the same age. I knew that it was just a matter of time before I had some huge fall or humilation on the race course!!!! No thanks..dont feel comfortable my body and sensitive preteen self said.

    Yet… I am susepitble to “hanging in” and thinking that men want someone like them for a mate. (masculine).

    I am taking tai chi. My male teacher also teaches kung fu. I really like tai chi it is slow and very beauitful and i am drawn to it because it doesnt over exert my body. It is nuturing to my body. Overexertion reminds me of my youth with my father. Bike rides, soccer, skiing. Me just pushing myself so hard, and the hating it.
    So I like tai chi beause its a way i like to move and be. Well, in kung fu there are similar movements that are just sped up. I do admit that i am attracted to kung fu.. but I feel that my teacher is trying in his own way to teach me about femininity and he has discouraged my intrest in it a little. I feel the males in the gym and know deep down I do want to be the feminine and have that masculine fighter be in my service…and not have to be the fighter. ( but I want to play/engage/ get deeper with them). I’m fighting my programing from my childhood that says lean forward to be noticed, effort more, struggle. Vs. be good to you, do less, lean back, be magnetic, be soft, be slow. I want to get more into tai chi…but I think “is that to gain more attention from my teacher that reminds me of my father? Even though this teacher appreciates the feminine and I think he is trying to get me to embrace the feminine myself. Attract the male instead of try to be the male…..

    Any insight would be awesome…


  3.  #3Daria on March 4, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    Jane I relate to this so much. I feel like my father too treated me like a boy, even though he didn’t encourage me to do martial arts, which I loved. But recently I am finding my feminine and find myself ridiculed to do so, but as I stand up for myslef, i feel like it clears the air, and i am allowing myself to be more vulnerable to cry in front of him, etc, its opening up slowly…

    also i started in the past few months for the first time to not push my body. it feels so good to dance and stretch and workout without pushing. yeah! i feel like i have a magic secret.

  4.  #4Jane on March 4, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Ya- its amazing how my father issues are haunting me. I know these issues are finally coming up to be healed, part of me thinks…can I survive it? And then I am scared because I wonder why my fear is so big of looking at this stuff. Is there something I dont know? How could a fathers neglect of a daughter lead to such painful feelings? I know people who have been threw much more than I have and they have better times with men etc. Why do I have such problems and such a doomed feeling of never being able to find a man who will care for me and love me and protect me?

    Maybe it is related to a gang. Because my father always had his sports “buddies” around him all the time. I can just see them ALL looking at me when I was doing anything sporty and my father making comments. HIM feeling proud or embarressed of me. Never nuturing me where I was at. Never treating me like I had the GD RIGHT to be vunerable in any way. Being punished for showing weakness by
    him then ignoring me etc.

    I know that this martial arts teacher is triggering my father issues big time. The repoir started out very positive…although I noticed right from the beginning..he reminds me of my father? Wierd. My father is deceased. He is deeper and wiser than my father ever was. Now I care immensely what he thinks of me, he won my admiration. I had to stop going to the gym so much, because of money reasons. We dont talk like we used to so much. I could tell he wanted to help me, I’m going threw deep personal pain etc. He is a healer and I see him as a mentor. He is older and married- so its almost like this is the person put in my path to resolve these father issues…. He is very much into being there and studying the art and being discilplined. I’m afraid that I will “fail” in his eyes the way I failed in my fathers eyes because I wont be able to go the distance in some degree or to live up to his expectations of me. Also there is the element built into the gym of many male students and just a few female students. (the memory of a group of males looking at me in a sport enviorment…very triggering for me) I’m projecting to much. He is very wise –I need to tell him where I am coming from. I have adult child issues, and my vuneralbity and true “age” and lack of being nututured.. i know he can see it. I feel so weak and so behind, and I’m trying to still find if I can trust. A friend of mine said to see him as a spiritual father and to “make a contract with him”. He asks me about my relationships or if I am dating… how can I say.. uhh I have big unresolved fears with men and I feel I need to be parented by a healthy male to get threw those issues. I need your help. Is that what is happening? Or I have found myself wishing that he had been my father, but sometimes reacting to him like he was my father– because I am triggered sometimes by my fear that he will reject me sometime down the road on some level.

  5.  #5Jane on March 4, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    And the big wammy of all this is I feel ashamed to want. Ashammed to ask for that kind of fatherly help I believe. I am 36 years old and single. I know he looks at me and thinks why isnt she married? I’m sure lots of people do. I feel that my father/men issues are like more obvious than ever. I feel like a social stigma. It started out that i was there for the tai chi and now has turned into that I feel I am there for something else too… like an addict, or that I need to resolve something. The crazy thing is that i LOVE tai chi and the philosophy, I love accuputucture ( my teacher is a accupucturist). I love those things. I’m afraid that it is my father issues and my shame that will tear me away from this place. I live in a state where to be in your 30’s and unmarried is seen as a huge charactor flaw and that your a failure. Help!

  6.  #6Daria on March 4, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Jane- what helped me was actually WOMEN. and this blog and community in particular. You can also write Rori directly and ask for your help. She is so compassionate and insightful.

    But working here on my femininity, embracing and “riffing” (expressing and saying i love you) to ALL my feelings, including the shame and fear has opened me up and strengthened me so that I am a wonderful feeling person… and I used to feel desperate and hopeless so much. Now it only comes once in a while and I know it’s there for more healing.

    So what I did was work through the power and self esteem posts, making the lists, doing every Rori tool I can, and practicing the tools with men, and I’ve healed so much and am healing more!

    And you can too!

  7.  #7Jane on March 4, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    Thanks for the words of encouragement and direction. I needed that.

  8.  #8kay on August 1, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    hi… while reading all this stuff about being vulnerable… i was shock to find out that for all those years ( 7 years of being exclusive+13 years of marriage) i have been shutting my husband out… and i felt thankful that he stayed… despite hearing him complain that i am hard to reach… he cant sink in… i am so perfect and nothing’s wrong with me… i grew up taking care of myself all the time… finances… health … decisions… and i thought thats what it take to live a firm life… i realized that i can relax and enjoy and let my husband take the lead….

  9.  #9Rori Raye on August 1, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    yayyy kay! Love, Rori

  10.  #10kay on August 2, 2012 at 12:14 am

    i know its yayyy…. i felt so tired … i have been doing so much of my boy energy… learning from you… i told him that “I felt like a single mom” doing and deciding and planning for the kids” and surprised to find out that he changed just like that!!!… helping me attend to our kids.