When I first wrote The Tao of Dating for Women, its subtitle was How to Embrace Your Inner Goddess and Find the Fulfillment You Deserve. Aside from not rolling trippingly off the tongue, I found that many women took issue with the word goddess. Whether it set an impossible standard of perfection or sounded too woo-woo, it just bugged them.
Well, today I had a little epiphany as I was thinking about some good ol' Greek and Roman mythology. If you've read any of that stuff, you'll know that, far from being perfect, them gods out-imperfected humans like only a deity can. They were petty, outta-control horny, greedy, deceptive, cruel and just plain damaged folks wreaking havoc. Zeus was a vindictive, incorrigible horndog, Aphrodite was a hot mess, Hera was consumed by jealousy, and Demeter was just plain depressed.
What made them gods and goddesses was their power. They specialized in something, and they were good at it. Aphrodite was the goddess of love. Athena specialized in wisdom. Artemis was all about the hunt, and Demeter did agriculture.
Nobody ever said they were perfect. But they all had something they did exceptionally well.
Similarly, when I tell women that they're goddesses, it doesn't mean you're suddenly beholden to some unattainable standard of holiness and virtue. It means that you already have power. Lots of it. Especially when it comes to men.
With one word of praise, with one inviting glance, with one gesture of approval, with one direct look into a man's eyes, you have the power to transform his day, his month, his year -- and sometimes his whole life.
Can you remember a time when someone complimented you? Of course you do. Well, every time you compliment a man, he will remember it, too. Sometimes for a lifetime. Compliments don't cost anything, and you have an unlimited supply. That's real power. How often do you use it? So praise, praise, praise -- and then praise some more.
You also have particular talents. You may be a good cook. You may knit well. You may have hands that magically unravel knotted muscles. You may be spectacularly good in the sack. You may be an exceptionally graceful dancer, singer or poet.
Whatever your strength is, cultivate it! That's what turns you into a goddess. Just think of some modern real goddesses you know. Nobody ever complained that Marrilyn Monroe couldn't cook (or fit into a size 2 dress, for that matter). She's like a modern Aphrodite, whose shrines are the posters of her on the walls of millions of homes and dorm rooms. Julia Child was never revered less because she didn't look good in a bathing suit. She was goddess of home and hearth, Demeter to the millions who still use her cookbooks and watch her videos. And Oprah Winfrey, a modern Athena, isn't adored any less because she doesn't play the violin.
Each of these women -- tremendously capable and simultaneously imperfect for the whole world to see -- excels at her own particular strength attribute. And the world adores them for it.
I'm guessing that right now, you have such an attribute already. And even if you don't, it's never too late to start today to develop it. In 3 months, you could be a decent cook, a skilled masseuse or a sexual tornado if you really wanted to. In a year, you could be a near-expert at anything -- if you really wanted to. And you could be even kinder, more gracious and more generous in the next millisecond if you really wanted to.
We live in an unprecedented era in which we are wealthy enough to have free time to work on ourselves. Not too long ago, you only had time to work on a field! Grasp this opportunity while the grasping is good, sister.
And if you have what you perceive as a flaw -- oh no! What now? One of my teachers was fond of saying: turn it into art! Embrace it and let it flourish, for what you suppress, persists. Alchemize it into something beautiful. And anything that you let be seen in the full daylight of your attention loses its hold on you.
When you embrace your so-called shortcomings instead of trying to hide them, they just can't control you anymore. And the funny thing is, people often love us for our endearing quirks, not in spite of them. And frankly, perfection is a bit off-putting. From a man to you, here's a secret: there's almost nothing more attractive to a man than a woman's vulnerability.
So: Goddess = powerful and imperfect woman who focuses more on the power than the imperfection. Congratulations! You already are one. And the more you train your attention to focus on your power, the more goddess-like you'll be.
Who are your modern-day goddesses? Share in the comments the ones you celebrate and the attributes you find remarkable.
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