March 18, 2024

How to Reclaim the Power of our Silliness.

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Over the last few weeks, there’s a word I have been working and journeying with deeply—a word I’ve come to realise is pretty much my kryptonite.

It feels important to share this journey because I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. In fact, I’m pretty sure this word might be kryptonite for a lot of women in the Western world.

Why? Because it’s a word that has the power to cut us off from the insights of our intuition, from the flow of our joy, from the power of our wildness and, frankly, from so much of what makes us us.

It’s a word that can shrink and diminish us and leave us feeling like naughty little schoolgirls who are being scolded.

What is the word?


I know, probably not one you were expecting. But let me explain why it’s become a big one for me, and see what it brings up for you too.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking with my coach about the novels I’m writing—something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember having a dream.

“Oh,” I said, “It’s silly really.”

My coach stopped me right there and asked me to explain why I’d used that word. Why I’d diminished something that I was clearly passionate about, something I was good at, and that could well bring me—and perhaps other people—a lot of joy.

Of course, I began to give a vague, thoughtless answer. Then I heard myself and paused, answering instead: “Actually, I don’t know. But I use that word a lot. And, more to the point, I’ve heard that word used about me a lot too.”

In the days and weeks since, I’ve been flagging that word every time I hear it, and have begun to ask myself what word could be used instead, as a way to both understand “silly” as well as to remove it from my vocabulary.

I’ve learned that there are three main ways I use “silly”:

1. To describe something that feels joyful and feminine.

Have you ever noticed our tendency to describe all things feminine as silly?

We do it a lot with art, movies being a prime example: Rom-coms get a mocking eye roll while action movies are lauded for their special effects and the wild and wonderful ways they find to put people in danger.

For the record, though I love an action movie as much as the next person, it’s fair to say that “Die Hard” is way less realistic than “When Harry Met Sally.” And a lot less joyful too!

There’s lots I could say about this one and our general diminishment of the art that women typically enjoy, but I’ll rein in that rant for now and say this: Joy, comfort, and anything that gives us a sense of safety is never “silly.” Especially not in a world that can be as painful and challenging as ours currently feels.

2. To describe a seemingly illogical suggestion someone makes.

I’m sure we’ve all heard this when we’ve made a decision that seems impractical to someone else, are suggesting an option that no one else has done before, or are pursuing a path that has no logical reason behind it.

After being called silly for a decision that I was considering, I spent a lot of last year learning to trust myself and the wisdom that makes itself known to me.

I learned that a lot of my deepest wisdom comes from my gut, or from the sacral centre of my womb if you were to look at my human design chart.

That means that often the choices I make and ideas I have aren’t backed up by logical thought patterns, or anything another person has empirically tested or done before. Often the bone-deep knowings I have about my life are, to the rest of the world, completely illogical.

Does that make them wrong? No! And what’s more, if I try to avoid them because they’re illogical, nine times out of 10 I’ll miss out on something incredible at best or find myself in a really difficult situation at worst, something that would, surely, be very silly.

3. To keep us compliant.

This is the one I’ve struggled with most over the past couple of weeks, perhaps because I’ve realised it’s the one I tend to use the most.

You see, my dog is currently fully in the swing of her teenage phase. And though we’ve been working hard on her training, there are occasions when she throws caution to the wind and leans all the way into her wild nature.

On occasions like those, she begins zooming around in circles right next to a road. She’s on a leash, she’s totally safe, yet every time she does it I get scared for her. So what do I say?

“Lagertha, don’t be silly.”

Actually, what I’m really saying is that I’m scared for her safety and that, in my worry, I want her to be compliant.

Which I do, to an extent of course—zoomies next to a busy road is not ideal! However, as I’ve written about before here, I also take a lot of inspiration from her wildness more broadly, and gain a lot of joy from the two of us being wild together.

And every time I say it, I also can’t help but think about how many times I too have been told not to be silly when actually, what the person meant was “please be compliant so that I feel more in control.”

So what do we do with silly?

I’ll be honest, when I first began unpacking the word “silly” and all the ways it had been used to diminish me, I was all set to start a crusade to expel it from our vocabulary altogether.

But the more I’ve come to understand it, the more that has changed and I realise I don’t want to ban silly. I want to reclaim it.

I want us to take the silliness that is warm, cosy joy; the silliness that is unproven and apparently illogical, bone-deep wisdom; the silliness that is absolute wild and wonderfulness, and reclaim every last drop of it.

Maybe that will look silly to everyone else, but just imagine how the world might open up if all those of us who had held back from being “silly” were to lean all the way back into it whenever we can?

If we were to remember that silliness was never our kryptonite—it was there waiting to be our superpower.

An invitation

I end this piece with an invitation to you as you move through the coming days and beyond.

I invite you to look at all the places and ways you too may have been called silly and start to ask where the power is in each of them.

And more, to look at the words that have felt like your own kryptonite throughout life—at the ways those words may have been used to squash us and the ways we can reclaim them and the wisdom power within them for ourselves.


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