4. Write down a list of all of the (difficult) ways that you see yourself as being similar to women
Having taken ownership of the ways in which you have hurt women, it is now time to bring it home and take a deeper level of ownership.
On a separate piece of paper, write down the sentence, “Something that I see in women that I see in myself is…” and then complete that sentence over and over again until you have exhausted your truths.
There is no healing with the enemy until we integrate with the enemy. This is why the most classic stories of all time (Star Wars, The Matrix, etc.) all end with the protagonist seeing himself in the enemy that he has been battling. “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Some examples of what you write down could be:
“Something that I see in women that I see in myself is…
– A propensity to abuse my power when I know that I can get away with it
– I have knowingly said vicious things in order to hurt women
– I can be very manipulative
– I have remained dependent on others well past the time that I needed to because I didn’t want to take responsibility for myself
– I have also shamed and ridiculed men’s emotions and upheld certain limiting gender rules that I myself have suffered as a result of
– I have punished men by weaponizing my words, emotions, and thoughts towards them, which I’m sure has been felt by them on many occasions
– I can be controlling, deceitful, and dismissive”
You finish this sentence stem, over and over, until you feel complete. And, a friendly reminder, this process shouldn’t necessarily feel easy. Sure, you may feel some relief when you take ownership of certain themes, but in general, taking ownership of such difficult psychological content will likely be quite painful and draining at times.
5. Sit with the idea of women’s innocence
Continuing on with the difficult work of dissolving your ego’s deeply held beliefs… it is now time to meditate on the idea of women’s innocence.
You can do this work in layers. It is likely that you have multiple themes when it comes to women that you could hold in your mind. You could hold your abusive mother in your mind for this exercise. Or your ex-partner. Or your rapist. Or just a faceless wall of women. Generally, the strongest emotional charge will come from holding a particular person, or small group of people, in your mind, since it is more tangible and relatable than the concept of women.
Now I want you to set aside a minimum of three minutes, to just meditate on the innocence of this woman/woman. See her/them as innocent. Picture her/them when she/they was/were young. Imagine what it must have been like to be raised in a world that told you to be quiet, pretty, and docile. Imagine the ways that she/they had pain and suffering thrust upon her/them.
Simply hold her/them as innocent in your mind. That is meditation. Just let it be exactly that. There’s no need to rush to false forgiveness, especially if that doesn’t feel true for you at this moment. Just hold her/them in your mind’s eye, and see them as innocent… even if only 1% innocent.
6. Collect evidence to the contrary
Because old habits die hard, after going through this process, your mind will likely go back to its ways of using the cognitive biases (that all humans have) of selective attention and selective memory. In other words, your mind’s filters will continue to collect evidence that women are truly terrible and worthy of disdain en masse, and filter out evidence to the contrary. Here’s where the long-term work begins to stop hating women.