Having strong, loving, open connections with other women is not just a nice to have, it's essential to the health, happiness and wholeness of our hearts and souls as women.
WHEN WE FEEL THE SUPPORT OF SISTERHOOD, WE THRIVE.
The challenge is that while we all want to come from our hearts and be great friends and supporters to each other, we get triggered by other women. Our feelings get hurt. We get disappointed. Our friend's actions don't match our expectations and we take it personal. We make up stories in our heads - what we did wrong, what she did wrong, what went wrong. It can be kind of maddening and draining when we find ourselves in a disagreement or in discontent with a woman we know or care about, or when we aren't getting our needs met in our friendship.
Unfortunately, while we take classes in math and reading in school there aren't many, if any, classes on how to navigate the tricky terrain of our female relationships, especially when they hit choppy waters.
Looking back, I think this was part of the reason that for the first 30 years of my life, most of my friends were men, with a few girlfriends I had known for a long time. Childhood friends felt safer and I knew how to play the game with them. Women were like wild cards, unpredictable.
But then, at the age of 30, after a bad breakup with my fiancé, I found myself at my first weekend all women's retreat searching for answers. I started the retreat protected and cautious with the other women, by the end of the weekend I was sitting in a circle holding hands with them! I had been converted. I became a "sisterhood" lover and haven't regretted it.
Since then, I've made some deep "soul sister" bonds. I have also "lost" some of those same bonds I thought would last forever. Maybe you have experienced this too? For me, while the conflict and the change within some of my most intimate female friendships has been challenging and even grief inducing, the finding, growing and letting go of these relationships has also opened my heart, been the glue that kept me together through hard times, and honestly has made me a better person.
I have been thinking lately how much more powerful we'd all feel and be if we had more 'training' on how to navigate our female friendships when our feelings get hurt.
Our interactions with other women are one of the main places we can either strengthen our feminine power or give it away, or worse, revert to the shadow of feminine power and use tactics like manipulation, colluding, gossip, blame and guilt.
What if when our feelings got hurt, instead of blaming or freaking out, we could act from a place of courageous love, to both ask for what we need + use conflict, hurt feelings, disappointment and the hard stuff to create stronger connections with the women in our lives?
I think we'd all be a lot happier, feel less lonely and isolated and we'd thrive in our personal well-being and professional success a lot more.
So that leads me to "HOW" - how do we show up in courageous love and our personal truth to deepen instead of destroy our connection with the women we call friend?
After lots of trial and error, here are three things I can share with you NOT to do. Do not:
- Blame - our finger loves to point the other direction to see what the other person "did to us," and while their actions may not have been loving, or in alignment with what we believe a good friend is, chances are that whatever you aren't loving about her has also been present and active inside of you. Hard to swallow, but true.
- Judge - my ego loves to be righteous, but mostly that just leaves me feeling right, not loved. The truth is that people are who they are, and none of us are perfect. Most of us have blind spots that can negatively impact others, without us having any clue (hence "blind.")
- Prove - our brains love to build cases so that when we finally do have a 'conversation' we have all of our points at hand. Don't do this. If you come to your friend with points to prove vs. an open heart to understand, you've already set up a battlefield.
Next time you find yourself in conflict or unhappy with the state of our female friendship, try these instead:
- Ask for what you desire without attachment to whether she can or will give it to you. Get clear on what you really need and want from her as a friend. Clear your own triggers first (so you don't show up defensive or like a needy mess) and from your centered sense of self, share.
- Be vulnerable. Share your feelings and experience and then be willing to be "affected" by her response. Don't show up with your mind made up and your position fixed. Being vulnerable doesn't mean laying your heart on the table to be stepped on. Vulnerability is a "feminine super power" that gives you the strength to speak your truth and then be open and curious to your friend's response, which creates a field of courageous love instead of contentious conflict.
- See and accept her for who she is. Instead of judging your friend, make a conscious choice to see her for who she is and accept her as that. Realize that how she shows up has nothing to do with you. It's not your job to change or catalyze her, just love her for who she is. And yes, based on who she is today, adjust your expectations.
Take these three do's and don'ts into your friendships and practice them. Showing up in courageous love is like a muscle you have to work out to strengthen. I'll be here practicing with you!
If you'd like to go deeper on this topic, join me for a recent episode of podcast Feminine Power Time: Female Friendships: How to Stay in Love When Your Feelings Get Hurt.