Three Words and Two Sides to Having a Warrior Spirit

painting in oranges, yellows, and purples with a woman with long hair blowing in the wind carrying a shield and sword pointed downward

“Women. Life. Freedom.”

These three words were being chanted in cities across Iran, in the weeks following the brutal death of 22-year old Mahsa Amini by morality police for violating the country’s headscarf mandate.

Amid these protests, many Iranian women have adopted the political symbolism of burning their headscarves and cutting their hair – both a statement against rules marginalizing women, and in honor of Amini.

Women. Life. Freedom.

These three words distill the essence of existence for half the globe’s population. Women around the world are galvanized by what is being described as a “watershed moment” for Iran – and for women around the world. Artists, politicians, and other luminaries are cutting their hair in symbolic support.

Women. Life. Freedom.

These three words? A call to action. A call of the heart. A call of the warrior.

According to Merriam Webster, the primary definition of “warrior” is “a person engaged in or experienced in warfare.” The broad definition is “a person engaged in some struggle or conflict.”

 

The women of Iran are warriors. These women fit all the definitions.

 

Some of them likely didn’t see themselves as such. Or didn’t know they had it in them.

But they always did. And do. As do all women.

We all know what this looks and feels like. When the Warrior comes out, we feel strong, brave, and ready for action. Regardless if it’s about a larger issue such as women’s rights, or an issue closer to home such as a loved one in harm’s way – concerns about stirring the pot and physical danger slip away, and we seemingly embody invincibility. Sometimes alone, though usually in numbers, we cry, shout, and move.

We’re on fire, and often in various forms of vulnerability.

When women create a movement, they take way more risk (than men).

Women traditionally manage the needs of the home, so in fraught scenarios the question emerges “will everything fall apart?”

When women lead with their heart, and they bring in their Warrior spirit, the bravery and determination is unmatched. The women of Iran are avatars of this spirit.

For those of us who may not be on the front lines but who need encouragement, let us draw on the brave women around the world.

 

But there are two sides to “good warrior-ing.”

 

If we don’t have the energy to organize and put our best selves forward, we’ll burn out before we’ve begun. A key element of the Warrior Spirit is to put ourselves first, as it’s too much for any of us to be in full-on Warrior mode at all times. If we don’t fill our own cups, we won’t be able to bring that spirit.

Whether fortifying ourselves for the challenges present in every day or for those that emerge and create a tipping point.

To powerfully channel your Warrior Spirit, I recommend taking care by recognizing and developing these feminine superpowers:

Self-Compassion

Women are always on the front lines, and it’s part of the Warrior Spirit to recognize a) the heroic efforts we engage in each day, and b) our limits as regards our own mental health. According to several sources, women are twice as likely to experience an anxiety disorder as a man. For women, anxiety is also likely to occur with other mental health conditions, such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder. We need to be our own caretakers, especially during turbulent times.

Connection with Others

Reaching out to make connections or for help takes fierce courage. No one has to go it alone in this life. Asking for a variety of perspectives and listening takes strength, and adds energy and inspiration to our efforts.

Courage of the Heart

If we are in survival mode day to day, there is no time to figure out what is in our heart – and we have to tap into the heart before tapping into the warrior.

The Latin root of the word courage is cor, or coeur – the French word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant ‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.’ Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage” – part of what makes us human.

Whether we’re marching in the streets or going about our day-to-day, women need to be fiercely self-compassionate, stay in connection with our community, and lead with the power of our hearts. This will allow us to use our Warrior Spirit to fight for a just and compassionate world that supports us – and the generations of women to come.

Women. Life. Freedom.

These three words are the heartbeat of a Warrior Spirit.

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