Brita Fernandez Schmidt

WHYITRIBE (THE REASON YOU THINK IT’S IMPORTANT TO CELEBRATE WHO YOU ALREADY ARE):

I believe that a great part of allowing ourselves to achieve our dreams and fulfil our potential has to do with loving who we are right now, with all the good and all the bad – knowing that we are enough – that is a really powerful feeling and it frees us up to dare.

NAME A TIME RECENTLY WHEN YOU SAID SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF / HOW DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?

I was talking to someone and I said that I thought I was a good mother – it made me feel really emotional and happy and grateful and it filled me with an enormous sense of peacefulness.

WHY DO YOU THINK WOMEN SHY AWAY FROM CELEBRATING OR PRAISING THEMSELVES SO MUCH?

I have thought about this a lot and I think it links to the gender stereotypes in society, where women and actually girls from early on are encouraged to be soft and not show ambition – otherwise they are labelled as ‘bossy’, and so part of that culture also then means that you internalise a sense that if you make demands or if you are proud or ambitious and you are confident then you are not conforming with the gendered roles that are expected of you. I do think this has changed greatly already particularly in the Western world, but I do think these patterns go very deep and the way we have been conditioned from an early age onwards have an incredible power over us. But the good news is that we can be conscious and aware and gradually re-condition ourselves, and lose these limitations that we are putting onto ourselves.

HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THE TENDENCY TO DISCREDIT COMPLIMENTS YOU ARE GIVEN?

I think that is a great question. One thing that I do with my team at staff meetings every so often is an ‘appreciation round’, where you appreciate the person sitting next to you and that person is not allowed to say anything apart from ‘Thank You’. So basically we are practising the art of accepting compliments. We can also help each other when we hear our friends and family say negative things about themselves, encourage them to rephrase it. What often helps is if we remind ourselves that loving ourselves is a precondition for loving others.

HOW DOES SOCIETY REINFORCE THE IDEA WE ARE NOT ENOUGH AND HOW CAN WE TAKE THAT POWER BACK?

We are surrounded by images and messaging that focuses on what we do not have, what we are not, what we should be because it is profit driven – so we need to create space where we free ourselves from this environment and stop and breathe and know that we are enough – that we do not need anything else to complete/perfect us. For me, regular daily meditation helps.

WHY IS THE TRIBE MOVEMENT IMPORTANT?

Bringing women together is the most powerful way of supporting the empowerment of women. I have seen this over the past 25 years time and again. Knowing you are not alone in feeling low self-esteem, anxiety, worries, fear is very powerful. The sense of sisterhood that can be created if it is based on positivity is phenomenal. I love the name ‘THE TRIBE’ because it also brings us back to our origins and allows us to redefine ourselves in OUR way – it’s OUR tribe.

Occupation: Executive Director

Website: www.womenforwomen.org.uk

Instagram: BritaFS

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