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  • Writer's pictureNancy Willbern, PhD

Big Girl Panties

 Confession: Last night I posted a blog, entitled Your Light. When I went to bed, I thought the post was OK, but I had some doubts about it. I woke up this morning at 6:00 AM – trust me, early for me – with my mocking, inner critic - think, Draco Malfoy,* (the bully in the Harry Potter series ) attacking my wounded child – think, Dobby (the elf and house slave of the Malfoy’s in the Harry Potter series). Draco was merciless with his shaming and name calling – “That piece was dull and lifeless. You wrote it from your head! Do you think anybody felt anything from that?! I bet most of them didn’t even read it to the end. They didn’t get as far as all of that climbing in the heart… removing the bushel… and letting it shine, shine, shine bit– which was the only part in the whole damn thing that might have caused a nostalgic smile. That piece didn’t even rank as much as a catch in the throat…. “

     I slowly began to sink back into that deep, dark dungeon inside myself. There I was Dobby, the house slave dressed in a burlap bag gaping around my skinny little arms and shaky little legs, again.

      I used to stay in that dungeon for days. Over the years, it morphed into hours. Now, I can sometimes remember to do my ABC’s as a teacher once explained to me. “Whenever you get triggered. Stop and ACKNOWLEDGE what you are feeling. Label it and then actually feel it inside your body. Give it its full due. Then stop and BREATHE into it, sending oxygen and attention to all of those unpleasant sensations. Last, CONNECT WITH COMPASSION. Bring all of your separated selves together, right there in the dungeon with the wounded child (my Dobby).

     So, that’s what I did. I stepped into my Nurturing Adult and let her take the lead. She stood by my inner Dobby as she called in Draco – understanding his bullying as an unconscious and misguided attempt at self-protection. Then she called in my Guardian Angels. As soon as They entered the room, the dungeon was filled with a glowing light. Their compassionate energy was palpable. We all calmed down. In the middle of our connection, I told my Guides that I needed help with my writing. I wanted to come from my heart to the heart of the reader, Soul to Soul. And then I heard them say or maybe I intuited it:

Nancy, you spoke your truth yesterday in your blog post. And We have no doubt, it will reach some readers. It has its own kind of value. But, if you are not satisfied with it, if you want it to touch more deeply, you could rewrite it from a more personal perspective. Say everything you said yesterday, but this time, tell it as a story.

And then they just said three simple words: Big girl panties.  

I laughed and knew exactly what they meant. So, this is the re-write of Your Life from yesterday, as suggested by my Inner Guides:

  Last week, I had two clients who came into my office with dread and trepidation. Each one was facing the option to take a really big step into her deeper, but inexperienced truth by speaking up at an important meeting. It wasn't just about speaking up, about being more assertive, it was about saying something that would move the whole trajectory of the organization. Each one was standing on the threshold between who she knew herself to be and who she would become if she stepped beyond her comfort zone. To take that step was daunting for both of them. As each got to that fateful, threshold-point in her description, feeling all tense and constricted inside – terrified at the thought of moving forward into truth - she stopped and said, “Well, I guess I’m just going to have to put on my big girl panties.” At this we both laughed. As women raised in the south, we had trusted in those Big-Girls our whole lives.

      After the laugh, with both of them I said, “No, big girl panties don’t help in this kind of situation. Big Girls help us speak up, but it takes something bigger than that to shift us into a qualitatively different identity. Big Girls fortify us on the outside. Inner connection strengthens us from within. And that’s what you’re going to need to take this next step. Now close your eyes.” I then took each one inside herself, just like I do to myself when I am terrified, had her gather all of her scared, self-doubters, as well as her judging critics into the dark dungeon with her. And then I asked her to bring in the image of her inner Loving Wisdom. “You might see it as an angel. It might appear as a sacred figure or a totem animal or you may just feel its Presence or see a glowing light.” They each saw an angel. “Now, check in with your body one more time. How does it feel now? They both said they felt so much better, more relaxed, more open. I had them really take that sensation in, to expand its light, its warmth and its strength throughout their whole bodies. And then giving them all the time they needed, asked them to open their eyes when they were ready.

      Both clients left their sessions feeling more prepared and stronger in the face of their upcoming meetings. As each one left, we both knew that the fear would sneak back in again, but my hope was that when it did, they would remember to go inside and re-connect to the power beyond their Big Girls.


   As soon as one of the clients got home, she shared with me a text that her sister had sent her during our session. It read, “I sure hope Laura** doesn’t have her panties in a wad at the meeting tomorrow.”

*Draco Malfoy is a fellow student of Harry Potter who makes himself feel better than others by taunting and belittling them. His family owns Dobby, the elf, who is enslaved as a house servant in their home.

** Not her real name.

Stock photo from Pixabay


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