I recently read an article about why women need girlfriends and it was pretty dismal. Can you guess what the first reason was on that list? I was shocked when I read, "To go shopping"! Yes, that’s correct … according to that ridiculous article, the number one reason was to have someone to go shopping with! Ugh.
There are so many amazing reasons we need a strong community of women in our lives (and shopping is not one of them)! As studies have shown, women live longer when they have a strong social network. It took me a long time to understand that I needed female peers, business partners, friends, a female community. But once I acted on this realization, my entire life changed. Actively seeking out a supportive female community is one of the best things that's ever happened in my life.
We get wrapped up in our busy lives and don't take time to nurture ourselves or build meaningful relationships. As the internet and social media become a larger part of our day, we forget about the fruitful exchanges we can have in person and in groups with common interests.
Here are some reasons women need to nurture a strong female community:
1. It reduces stress.
Have you ever had that endless mind chatter or chronic stress that you can’t seem to shake? Making dates with your friends is the answer. According to a breakthrough UCLA study, it is suggested that women respond to stress with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women. The study suggests that in women, the fight or flight response manifests differently. The hormone oxytocin is released as part of stress response, and in women, oxytocin triggers an immediate desire to seek and maintain relationships in response to stress. Bonding with other women is a biological response to soothing ourselves when faced with stressors.
2. You need accountability.
Having a community of women that you share your goals and dreams with keeps you accountable to yourself. Everyone needs external affirmation showing them they are amazing and urging them to keep going. This is called love. I have never met a person that was solely successful on their own. When I opened up with love and in service to the people around me, I found my peer-mentors for the first time. When I need accountability or objective opinions, I now know where to go.
3. You need people who will tell you the hard truth.
You need people who love you but will tell you when you are royally screwing up. These people will help point out things that you may be too close to see clearly, or when you’re not seeing things objectively. It’s true, you screw up (as do I). You are human. It’s not in our nature to be perfect because perfection doesn’t exist.
Having sisters around you that don't have any other objective but your well-being are your best source of that elusive objective opinion. Your friends can see your crap and call you on it when you can't see it yourself. When you have trusted people around you, they'll be the first ones to see your patterns, good or bad.
4. It's your nature to nurture.
Nurturing relationships are a two-way-street! You deserve time to nurture relationships that nurture you back. Having nurturing relationships outside of family isn't an option, it's a necessity. You will be a better person for you, and to everyone around you, when you give and receive with people outside of your family. Supporting other women is so rewarding and is the clearest way to receive the support you need when you need it. It just feels good to support others for no other reason other than you want to see them shine.
5. It is not fair to expect one person to be everything to you.
You can have more than one soulmate. Soulmates are the people that you click with, that connect to you on a level that you can't exactly describe. They make up your closest community. We are social creatures that need love, contact, exchange and affirmation. It’s rare for one person to meet all the emotional, social and physical needs of another. You being your own soul’s mate is the root of self-care.
6. You’ll live longer.
Research supports the finding that having a network of social contacts helps people have longer, healthier, happier lives. When you live your full of a sense of purpose, you wake up every day with something to look forward to.
7. Your community of women can help support your goals and objectives.
Surround yourself with people that are D-O-I-N-G something. You need relationships with people who share similar drive and visions in life, love, business, spirituality and personal development.
When I was starting out, I spun my wheels trying to find a business mentor, but now that type of relationship can be readily found. I directly attribute that to the internet that connects people far and wide through similar passions and goals.
The common theme in having a group of soul-sisters is that we are social beings that are spending more and more time isolating ourselves in our busy, busy lives. There is so much tearing down of women in society when it should be our duty to uphold each other. We have the power to change the conversation when women are being torn down about their bodies, their choices, about how they choose to show up in the world and instead lead by example by having healthy, happy female friendships. Three cheers for sisterhood!