Ladies, Meet Your Inner CAVEWOMAN
She’s with you 24-7 — because she’s IN your DNA. And do you know what?
Mostly, our inner CAVEWOMAN complains, worries, and micromanages. She is careful — about small things and big things and everything in between.
And here’s the bottomline deal — she’s very focused. On surviving.
It’s her job to keep you alive. So…. she monitors, keeps her eye on, checks.
The good news? You can tell when she’s monitoring!
Do you know how to tell?
(Pause here and see if you know the answer to that…)
Go ahead. Look away from the page and take a guess.
The answer: when you feel tension.
Yes, when you’re uptight. Even the slightest little teensy weensy bit.
Keep in mind that tension occurs in many forms. Some forms are fairly subtle, some are obvious. For instance, there is tension when you react to something, feel offended, defend yourself, feel an urgency to correct someone or something, talk to someone, tell someone some news, tell the full story, do something for someone because they asked you and you “should” do it.
Ladies, meet your inner CAVEWOMAN.
It’s important that you get to know her.
If you don’t know who she is and what kind of trouble she can get going in a second and a half, you’ll think she’s YOU, the real you.
And that’s not helpful.
And you’ll think she’s telling you the truth. (She’s not.)
And you’ll think you have to listen to her. (You don’t.)
She will mess up a relationship with a man faster than you can say lickety split. She’ll talk to you and give you unsolicited advice when you’re around your son, your father, your brother, your husband, your boyfriend, or the guy down the street even if he’s trying to help you. She will tell you what to say and do, and it’s (usually, almost always) not helpful (at all!).
She’s not you. She’s CAVEWOMAN.
She’s the ding-dong bell of instinct. The ring-a-ling girl of survival.
She’s got some favorite methods of saving you from the tiger, which is her job. Check these out.
- She complains. The purpose? Simple. To make things right — so nobody will die.
- She questions, corrects, fixes, adjusts. She even questions competent people who know what they are doing. She wants to make sure that things will turn out right. By doing it her way. Yep, so nobody will die.
- She worries. About things going wrong. If things go wrong, people might die, especially the nice people who could save her from the dangers of the jungle, and then she would die, too. OMG.
- She thinks too much. About who is on her side. Who is right and who is wrong. Because if she is on the wrong side of things, she might not get saved. From all the tigers roaming on the wrong side of the fence.
- She obsesses. About ridiculous details, mostly involving fake urgency. She makes you think that unimportant things are important. She doesn’t know when enough is enough, the day is done, and you it’s time to chill out and relax. She tells you you should do this and that and the other thing (just one more thing, and one more thing, etc.) at 11 pm when you could be heading for your soft pillow. She does not know how to leave the dishes until the next day, and she thinks that sending that final email will save the world. And everyone will live.
- She has habits. Sure-fire methods. Tried and true ideas. Like how to load the dishwasher. How to prepare food. How to cut a vegetable. How to prepare for a trip. How to raise children. She’s doing things the way she’s doing things for one reason. To save the tribe. Her babies. Her hunter. And herself of course.
- She wants desperately to please others. Why? So she can stay in the cave where it’s safe from danger. If she’s surrounded by people, she’s protected. And if she is nice enough, those other cave people will help her in times of trouble. They will look out for her and save her life.
- She is with you when you are by yourself walking in a (well lit, even…) parking lot at night. She looks in your car, around your car before you get in it. You can feel her on high alert when you’re walking on a dimly lit street in New York City. Hang onto your purse. Look behind you. Notice the people walking near you. Read the faces. Notice the intent. Does that guy look scary? Cross the street and get away from him.
- She convinces you that being alone is bad. It’s dangerous. It’s not good. You have no help. Surely, you’ll die if you’re on your own. So your feeling of loneliness drives you toward being with other people, which is safer.
- She is desperate to appear to be low-maintenance. “Oh, I can do it myself, thank you.” If she is less trouble (and more helpful) surely she is more valuable, right? She has to be nice to her sisters and friends, too, so her these women don’t rat on her and throw her out of the cave (to starve, of course.) So don’t disagree with the Sisterhood! You don’t want to go there! You’ll die!
- Are you getting the picture? Whew!
- She shows up sure as tootin’ around men. Men are bigger and stronger and they could kill her if they wanted to, so CAVEWOMAN thinks it’s important to be extra careful and take that big guy down a notch or two if he’s getting a little too whatever… too loud, pushy, powerful, successful, handsome, funny, or arrogant. She doesn’t want him to be too good, too appealing to other women, because he might leave. And then she would die. So she makes fun of him, just enough to keep him humble. Ignores him, just enough to keep him less powerful. Doesn’t appreciate him fully. Withholds sex. Criticizes him in front of his friends. Cuts him down. She takes him off his game, so she can feel safe (he won’t get too full of himself and kill her or leave her. (But this is a longer story… and the short story is that taking his power away backfires. We should talk about that another time.)
The Good News is that CAVEWOMAN is NOT you — not the real you. But if you want to enjoy being the real YOU — it’s a good idea to learn to see CAVEWOMAN. Learn to feel her and know when she is running the show.
And here’s the thing. Welcome her. With open arms. There is no better way to create positive change or positive momentum than welcoming whatever is in front of you, even if it’s CAVEWOMAN. Might as well, because if you resist her, or push against her or deny that she’s there, she will stick to you like Velcro. And run your life.
The secret to being more aware is to start small. At first, don’t try to fix anything. Start by noticing when CAVEWOMAN ‘s active in you. Just notice her.
Remember the biggest hint for recognizing her presence: any time you feel tension in your body, she is with you and (in that moment) running the show.
Really important: If CAVEWOMAN is there, and you don’t see her, you will make decisions — say things and do things — simply to relieve your tension. That’s not necessarily a good thing, if it means casualties (which is what CAVEWOMAN is known for, especially male casualties.) And then you can’t figure out why he has distanced himself, doesn’t talk to you or confide in you as much anymore, why he spends a lot of time away from home, why he doesn’t consult you, why he doesn’t tell you the whole story, and why he strays.
Feeling pressure? That’s CAVEWOMAN.
She is telling you that there is an emergency and you should protect yourself from disaster. In your younger years, she will tell you to date a man who is not a match to you, just because it’s time to have a baby. She will tell you to pretend to be unavailable or play hard to get, just to keep him dis-empowered and a little off balance. She will find the best enemy she can find, and tell you to marry him. She will have you say things that are not true, be someone you’re not, or pretend to enjoy things that you don’t, just to be with a man who is a potential baby-maker for you and your survival instincts.
Seriously. This is what it boils down to. Survival. We are not designed to get along and fall in love and understand each other. Being in love and getting along takes a little work and awareness.
However, we are designed perfectly — to survive. Survival trumps everything. She’s only worried about food and shelter and a warm fire.
CAVEWOMAN is all about saving your life, even if it doesn’t need saving. She didn’t get the memo that you have plenty of groceries and a nice place to live. She is unaware that you have meaningful employment and a steady income and you’re loved by many friends.
She has no clue that you’ve “made it” in the world. She doesn’t know about the “Awesome Business Woman of the Year” award. She isn’t aware that you own a thriving business, have happy and productive employees, a pension, a second vacation home, excellent investments and a very happy savings account, thank you very much.
She doesn’t have access to that information. She is certain that you need to be saved from lions and tigers and they are everywhere.
Notice her. Welcome her. Take her by the hand. Have a little heart to heart talk. Celebrate that you see her. She’s there to help you in the way she knows how.
Soon, just by noticing her, things will start to shift. First, you’ll notice her, and nothing much will change except the fact that you notice your DNA is talking.
Then after a while, you’ll notice her and feel her influence, and you won’t need to succumb to it. You’ll get it. You’ll say to yourself, “Oh, that’s just my CAVEWOMAN.” You’ll calm down. You’ll smile, because in that moment, you have cut the puppet strings.
Yes, you can evolve your hormones. You and CAVEWOMAN can be friends, and she will yield to you. You can be in charge of both of you.
I would LOVE to hear your CAVEWOMAN discoveries! When does she show up for you? What do you notice?
Knowing about CAVEWOMAN is a totally liberating thing — so important in relationships (especially our relationship with ourselves.) Your input would be very helpful — I’d like to write more about this and do public talks about this subject.
Thank you in advance for any comments, examples, or questions you might have!
Comments and thoughts welcome — scroll down to the comment boxes. I will approve your comment and you’ll see it posted a little later. The approval process is an interim step which helps to avoid spam.
In Care of Relationships with Terri Crosby– Tools For Creating Positive Momentum. https://incareofrelationships.com. Terri is a relationship mentor. She helps create life-affirming, ever-evolving, happier relationships with those you love.
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