The other night I spent an evening with a dear friend who is my soft place to fall. She encourages me to show up messy, tender and fully myself. She sees my creativity and generosity AND my tendency to be controlling and too goal-oriented. All of me.
Everywhere I go lately, women are talking about friendships and their desire for greater intimacy and authenticity with their girlfriends. They’re sharing they are letting some friendships go and deepening others. They’re getting clearer on what they need from relationships-—particularly during these turbulent times. They’re seeing first-hand what a huge impact real, heartfelt connection with friends has on their quality of life, mental health and overall well-being.
A well-known UCLA study on female friendships found that these key relationships not only help reduce stress, but they also extend our lifespan and reduce the likelihood of physical problems upon aging. The study discovered that women have a natural reaction to seek-out their friends in times of stress (they called this “tend and befriend”), which helps them physically and emotionally return to home base. But friendships need cultivating, tending to and a willingness to “come as we are,” (not just when we’re on top of the world). But what happens when we get over scheduled or care taking for others dominates our lives? We cancel lunches, walks and tea and wine dates—when these meet-ups are exactly what we need to help us navigate life transitions and tough times.
As a life balance teacher/speaker, I’ve been coaching women/men on the four areas of self –care (physical/emotional/mental and spiritual; one of the best ways to enhance balanced living)—and I’m always surprised by how often people neglect and overlook emotional self-care: the care and feeding of our hearts.
Emotional self-care is as important as eating nourishing foods and daily movement. Critical to this is seeking out and taking time to connect with friends who nourish us, and using discernment: knowing when it’s time to let friendships go and when it’s time to reach out and cultivate new or existing ones. This takes courage. It requires us to stretch. It’s part of our growth and evolution as spiritual beings. I can’t tell you how many heads nod when I bring up this theme at workshops/retreats; so many of us are still in old stagnant relationships that are draining us, rather than fueling us.
We need—and deserve—friends that let us show up “warts and all.” We need friends who encourage us to shine and are not threatened by our success (read more about Sisterhood) and we need confidants who provide refuge, a space for us to rest without having to prove, do or be anything to anyone. Consider:
- Which of my friendships truly nourish me, who would I like to spend more time with?
- Which relationships am I ready to lovingly release and let go of?
- What do I most need from my confidants/close friends right now? Am I willing to share this with them?
- Am I ready to stop holding it all together, let go, be vulnerable and allow my friendships to evolve into deeper levels of intimacy?
For the month of December, I challenge you to focus on cultivating (or deepening) a new or existing friendship. Make this a priority; I’d love to hear your ideas on steps you’re taking to move “friend time” to the top of your list. And if this theme calls to you and you’re desiring greater Sisterhood, please join me Sunday, Dec. 20th for STILLNESS: A Winter Solstice Women’s Retreat—my upcoming (virtual) women’s self-renewal experience. Details here.
- *NEW!* Dec. 20th, 1-4:30 p.m. CST ~ STILLNESS: A Winter Solstice Women’s Retreat (virtual/online)~ a self-renewal experience. Join me and a soulful circle of women on the Winter Solstice for an afternoon of extreme self-care: quiet reflection/meditation, poetry/storytelling, delicious Yoga Nidra, heartfelt connection, singing and more. This event will be recorded. Learn more/register.
- I’m booking 2021-2022 workshops and presentations now! Consider hiring me to create an online balanced living experience to help your team, organization or employees feel less stressed and more resilient, creative and focused. For 20+ years I’ve been working with companies/organizations like Merrill Lynch, the Center for Women in Law, the Hewlett Foundation and more. Whether it’s a workshop, keynote or custom retreat via Zoom, I’d love to discuss how I can support your team or organization. Learn more here.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance coach/author/speaker Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women find balance through the art and science of self-care, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, Spirituality & Health and more. She and her team have certified more than 400 facilitators in 10 countries around the globe to lead life coaching groups and women’s retreats based on her work. She’s the author of two books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Brevard, NC and Austin, TX with her husband and is enjoying being a recent empty nester. More on Renee here.