FRIENDSHIPS OF WOMEN: NAVIGATING YOUR "SISTER CIRCLES"
Around six years ago I went through a huge friendship breakup. (The kind where passive letters are exchanged, people are deleted from social media, and there’s an ache in the pit of your stomach constantly. It wasn't pretty). The end of the friendships along with the major issues I had trusting women, and fear of being truly known all pointed me to finally take a step back and get to now myself better before I even began to re-evaluate my friendship or sister circles.
As a super-relational extrovert, I have always had plenty of friends in my adult life, but up until about 6 years ago, none that really knew me; none I felt completely myself around. In the midst of my social bubble, I felt completely alone. One day it hit me like a ton of bricks. I didn't know what healthy friendship looked like. I thought having petty drama in my life was normal! I thought hiding who I was in my relationships out of fear was something everybody did. My "aha" moment started a long journey to developing boundaries, learning about my safe inner circle sisters, and understanding where I truly began.
Since then, I have learned to align my life from the inside out. I’ve become my own friend first; finally living according to my values and I have put myself and my spirituality first. I've shifted my friendships from a mile wide and an inch deep, and now go a mile deep and an inch wide.
Typically, the friendships of women are so different than the friendships of men. Women tend to be more demanding, empathetic, and confiding in their friendships than men are. We long to be heard, to be understood, and to be loved. In fact, some women have been so deeply wounded by other women that they no longer pursue friendships with their own sex. I’m not going to lie, I have had to fight that urge at times in my life to completely close myself off to new female friendships because of deep female friendship wounds.
Can you relate?
What I can tell you is that NOW when I talk to my closest female friends, my inner circle, my sisters, I feel my soul being sunned and watered when they ask me questions, drawing out the deepest waters of my soul…as well as when they empathize, rejoicing when I rejoice, weeping when I weep.
And I want that so much for you, dear one.
I’ve learned that my energy, time, and love are resources I need to honor. My closest friendships are sacred, meaningful, and most of all, safe. I can be myself with them and trust that I'll be loved just as I am. I never have to worry about gossip or drama. That is just not even an option with a safe inner circle.
If you struggle feeling secure in your girl-gang, like you could use a boundaries boost, or like you simply want to up-level your circle of influence, the best advice I can give you is to give attention to your inner circle! Be intentional about your inner circle and whom you consider to be "safe."
"There's a marked difference between acquaintances and friends. Most people really don't become friends. They become deep and serious acquaintances. But in a friendship you get to know the spirit of another person; and your values coincide. Friends may disagree, but not about serious matters. A friend will stand for you when you are no longer able. A woman can say to herself, If I die, I know that my friend, my sister friend, will be here to hold up the banner. Now that's very profound." ~Maya Angelou
Now, please hear me that this doesn’t mean that you only have a few friends in your inner circle and that’s all. There are actually five levels of friendships that I want to explore with you today and I even created a handy worksheet to help you decide who deserves to be in your coveted and safe inner circle.
5 LEVELS OF FRIENDSHIPS
1. You, your inner world, your spirituality
If you’re not friends with YOU and your Creator, that’s absolutely where you really need to begin your friendship journey. Stop all of the things and really get to know yourself again…. your why, your hopes, your values, your dreams, your passions, your hurts, your challenges… really get to know who you are at your core. If you are struggling with your spirituality, please open up to your safe people and spiritual mentors about that for guidance to help mend that relationship as soon as possible.
2. Inner circle: safe people
This is NOT meant to be a large group of people. This is an intimate group of maybe 2-3 women who are a soul-sister or someone you feel 100% safe with being 100% YOU with at all times. They know you intimately and you know them just as deeply. You can speak your mind to them and also be poured into by them. You give as much as you take from the relationship and vice versa. These people are safe, they are tender, they are wise, and they are truthful with you, even when it’s something you don’t want to hear. They make you feel known and loved. They accept you without judgment. They reciprocate honesty and openness. They always have your best interest at heart, they are your biggest cheerleaders, and they help you to grow.
3. Good friends
These women might have been in your inner circle at some point or it’s possible that time, distance, another person or interests have kept this friendship out of your inner circle. You have more of a bond and interactions with them than you do with an acquaintance, but this friend has not earned a spot in your inner circle at this time or in this season. And it’s totally fine for this person to be a good friend.
These are friendships where you more-or-less have one way of being together, or one commonality holding you together as friends. Typically, these friendships are largely dependent upon the fact that you both work together, attend the same church, are part of the same mother's group, are both single, or have other mutual friends in common, but really don’t know each other outside of that one space.
5. Unsafe people / little-to-no relationship
These people might have been in any of your innermost circles at some point, but they have proven themselves not to be safe for you to be open, honest and your true self with them. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean necessarily that they need to be out of your life completely (although that might be a possibility, depending on the situation or season.) If you do still need to have these people in your life, be sure to keep them in their proper space… at arms length and closed off to the other circles held within. Decide your boundaries and keep them strong. Protect your heart and spend your time and energy on those closer to you in your other circles.
Need more help navigating all of these circles?
You can snag my free "sister circles" worksheet and get started right away cultivating an epic girl-gang where you feel fully known and fully loved!
I do hope this worksheet helps you navigate your friendships in a healthy and positive way. How has it been for you to navigate friendship as an adult? I'd love to hear your thoughts about this in a comment below.....