The other night I made my husband go on a dad’s night out. (Don’t worry, he wanted to go.) Why? Because friendships—which are difficult for many men who are juggling late work hours with family responsibilities—aren’t just nice to have, they’re critical to our well-being.
For the past two months I’ve been managing a full plate (writing a book is partly to blame) and I’ve become aware of how much I’ve missed my girlfriends. I’ve been on Facebook more than normal and have observed with curiosity how this has made me feel (read my blog post Is Facebook Changing Who You Are?). Last week I conducted a mini-experiment and rather than emailing, texting or messaging business partners, friends and colleagues—I picked up the phone and called them. And, I was amazed at how happy I felt as I moved through the week.
A well-known UCLA study on female friendships found that these key relationships not only help reduce stress, but they also extend our lifespans 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 what happens when we get busy and overscheduled? We cancel lunches, walks and tea/wine dates—when these meetings are exactly what we need to help us navigate life transitions and tough times. (Read Building a Support Network.)
As a life balance teacher, I coach women/men on the four areas of self –care (physical/emotional/mental and spiritual)—one of the best ways to enhance our equilibrium—and I’m always surprised by how often people neglect and overlook emotional self-care.
The care and feeding of our hearts 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 its 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 owning your power) and we need confidants who provide a soft place to fall, a space for us to rest without having to prove, do or be anything to anyone. Consider the following questions as you reflect on this theme:
- Which of my friendships truly nourish me, who would I like to spend more time with?
- What relatinonships am I ready to let got of (or put on the back burner to simmer)?
- 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 August, I challenge you to focus on cultivating one to two key friendships. Make this a priority for 30 days and let me know how you feel at the end of the month. Want to learn more about this theme? Take my very short Women, Friendship & Social Media Survey and I’ll share the results with you (sorry guys, this one is for women only). If spending time with good friends makes you feel like you can conquer the world, isn’t it time to make this a priority?
I hope to visit with you through my blog The Journey or our Live Inside Out Facebook Community. I’d love to hear your comments around the theme of friendships.
Warmly, Renee and the RTA Team
P.S. Wondering how we can support you? Here’s a quick snapshot of our services and products.
Upcoming Events and Training:
- August 1-31 Personal Renewal Group Online Facilitator Membership Are you a therapist, coach, parent or birth educator, leadership consultant or women's empowerment advocate who loves supporting women and helping them nurture their emotional well-being? Join an international community and facilitate self-renewal groups/retreats for women based on the award-winning The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal. Learn more. Or, click here to find a Personal Renewal Group in your area. Summer special! Enter 50 OFF in the coupon code field to receive
$50 in savings through 8/31/12.
- August 1-31 DOWNLOAD AND LISTEN NOW: Live Inside Out Teleclasses. Listen in the comfort of your home or office to Renee’s recent Life Balance Teleclasses. Download these inspiring, interactive calls; themes include: The Power of Self-Care, Owning Your Personal Power and Staying Connected to Your Partner. Free for a limited time.
- September 21-22 Private Event Women’s Leadership Retreat- Creating Balance in Unbalanced Times
The Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa, Scottsdale, AZ Learn more about RTA private retreats.