There’s a very interesting pattern that I often notice in many of the conversations that I have with women, especially when they’re in groups, but also as individuals. While I certainly meet women who feel contented, fulfilled and strong, many other women share with me some of the things that upset and, even disturb, them in their relationships at home, with their extended families and/or at work.
It’s not always that easy, however, for women to put their finger on what’s wrong, because they don’t often get the chance to speak openly about what they’re experiencing. Also, even though they feel that some of what’s going on is unfair, upsetting, inappropriate or unkind, they’re usually too close to their own lives and relationships to be able to make sense of what’s happening.
It feels liberating to tell the truth
It’s for this reason that’s it’s so important for women to have the time and opportunity
to get together to share their lives with other kindred spirits. Time and again I’ve seen that, when there’s a safe, loving and non-judgemental environment, one brave soul will ask a tentative question or share something that concerns her – and it’s as if a wave of relief sweeps through the room. As soon as one person starts telling the truth, it gives others permission to acknowledge what they’ve experienced.
‘I thought I was the only one!’
If we believe that no-one else is having similar experiences, it’s natural to feel embarrassed and anxious about opening up about our own lives. The images of ‘perfect lives’ that abound on social media are enough to make anyone feel a failure when things aren’t going as well as we’d like. And with the prevailing climate of competition that surrounds us, why wouldn’t we feel reluctant to disclose to others that we’re unhappy, lonely, frustrated or taken for granted?
Safety in numbers
One of the ways in which groups of people – whether they’re family, cultural, tribal, religious or societal – hold themselves together is for everyone to accept the traditions of habit and behaviour without questioning them. While this can be helpful in some instances, it can also allow all sorts of unhealthy habits and systems to continue that aren’t in the best overall interests of everyone.
When we pretend that things are fine when they aren’t, we keep ourselves stuck in outdated and unproductive patterns. I know from my own life that trying to maintain the illusion of ‘a happy life’ was what delayed my finally being able to live an authentic, fulfilling and meaningful life.
Look for safe, loving, kind, gentle and supportive friends
If you’d like to make some changes in your own life, make sure that your friends are on your side and want only the very best for you. What’s needed is the time and space to be able to share our hearts and our lives without criticism or being told what to do. Then, any sense of artificial competition melts away and a process of healing begins. As soon as we know that we’re not alone, we feel courage, conviction and a sense of freedom and happiness.
This heart-to-heart sharing is not about blaming or shaming others. It’s not about ‘confessing’ or inappropriate baring our souls or complaining for the sake of complaining. Any discussions are for the constructive purpose of understanding where we’re stuck so that we can take responsibility to heal our own selves – and in this way to heal our relationships.
Let’s do this together!
The better each of us does, the better we all do. When women stand together in mutual support and co-operation, we build a whole new culture of friendship, respect, encouragement, reinforcement, inter-connectedness, nurturing – and empowerment that’s real and lasting.
Instead of buying into the old patterns that lead us to compare and compete, we forge a different path of genuine pleasure in everyone’s achievements.
Start small – and then grow
If you want a more authentic, satisfying and joyful life, start being brave enough to share how you’re feeling. At first, choose someone that is trustworthy and kind and then gradually add others to your circle of truth.
The more that you’re true to yourself, the more you’ll attract people and situations that mirror this honesty and integrity. And then, over time, you’ll start to notice that your life has opened up and changed in ways that will delight you!