Warrior Woman Wisdom
Wow! What an interesting start to the new year. I spent the day with some amazing friends last month who have reminded me of the value of aligned female friendships.
If you're like me, you've spent a lot of time in your social life "forcing it" with the wrong crowd. I've done an excellent job of driving myself crazy just by hanging around folks whose views/actions/decisions/opinions clash and even belittle my own. I've spent time in draining dynamics, telling myself I've had something to learn from them and shaming myself for feeling judgemental whenever my instincts say, "This isn't right."
I've in fact been confusing discernment with judgment, and guilting myself into sticking around when love is no longer being served at the table, so to speak.
My lunch date with friends resulted in an epic understanding that what you put up with, you end up with. Forget forcing things. Forget draining friendships. Forget "attracting" a tribe by relentlessly observing and pulling yourself apart - in the name of compassion - to try to accommodate those with whom you don't align.
YOU WILL ALIGN WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE, EFFORTLESSLY.
Value the friendships that are effortless and natural; The ones that fill you up and leave you feeling refreshed and inspired without forcing compassion, understanding, tolerance, or a "lesson."
RUN FAST from the ones where you feel judged, small, insecure, crazy, and anything else other than pleasant and content. These are usually the ones you have to force, or are the ones you generally feel like sh*t in. A pleasant get-together shouldn't be a rarity in a friendship, it should be the norm.
Don't get me wrong... I understand that sometimes we can have tiffs with friends. Sometimes we get triggered and need to process our stuff. Good friends will call us out on our faults, but the unpleasantness in these moments of growth is acute. It's the chronic unpleasantness that I'm referring to: The general discomfort we feel - and ignore - when we are around a specific someone (or specific somebodies), every single time.
If you're unfortunate enough, you'll think this discomfort is normal. Worse, you might blame yourself for it, when in fact, (write this down!):
When you feel like shit in the company of someone, it's a sign that a relationship with this person is not for you.
I have spent years focusing on and forcing friendships and relationships that just don't align with me. My excuse? I told myself I've had lessons to learn. I stuck around draining myself because I thought I was being spiritual. I thought I was looking in the proverbial mirror and doing my work. I thought I was being the bigger person. I neglected to see that sometimes the only lesson needed is a lesson in letting go of the people who suck.
Here's what I learned from that: When we create a lesson in order to justify sticking through a draining friendship, we are telling ourselves and everyone around us that we will tolerate their garbage. This inhibits their growth as it does our own. Although we may still learn something valuable from this dynamic, we're actually taking a detour away from the journey toward self-love.
Don't stick around punishing yourself in the name of spiritual evolution.
F*ck fighting for friendships, relationships, jobs and roles that don't naturally align for and with you.
I really value the Warrior Woman Wisdom given to me from three amazing friends who leave me feeling sane every time I am in their company. Aligned friendships are absolutely invaluable because they become your guidance, your support, and your mirror. You want these to be crystal clear, true, and from the heart.
Here's something I picked up from lunch that day with my amazing, effortless Warrior friends:
"Put your f*ckin' blinders on babe." - Shelley
When I told Shelley I was feeling low because I was in a lull while others in my age group were starting businesses, having babies, and generally being badass warrior women, she reminded me that comparison is the thief of joy. And it is! When we compare ourselves to those around us, we lose focus on ourselves and we diminish the value of our steps and goals. And Shelley, a former social media manager and web-designer in her spare time, reminded me of something vital: Not many people share their real story. The woman swooning over her new baby might not be letting us in on the fact that her husband doesn't help as much as she needs him to. Most people use social media to feel good about themselves, so of course they're going to focus on the positive. The grass isn't greener, it's probably just manicured. And that's okay! But that's also why it's important not to compare.
Tip: Stop scrolling through the social media feeds! People's highlight reels are not a true depiction of their lives and are thus not a good blueprint to be modelled after. Life is real, it's messy, it's complicated and up-and-down. Someone's social media feed might not reflect that. This is why comparison on the social media level is a waste of our time.
Tool: Facebook News Feed Eradicator. You're welcome.
"Stop being "nice." You owe it to yourself and everyone around you to be authentic." - Michelle
I complimented a friend on her physique and got completely sucked into a lengthy discussion about diet and nutrition. Being a holistic nutritionist, I have zero interest in fad-diets or weight loss shakes, and yet because I showed interest in my friend's routine, knowing damn well I had no interest in her method of weight loss, I got an ear full about how much I'd benefit from her ways of living. I smiled and nodded and gave her the floor, but felt my energy plummeting down by the time we got to calorie counting apps and meal trackers. That's when Michelle pulled me up and gave me some needed permission to stop being "nice."
Because I'm a people-pleaser by nature, I often get myself into situations that drain me because I want to be "nice." Does this happen to you? Michelle reminded me that being "nice" doesn't equal being kind. In fact, if we really want to be kind, we do so by being authentic. Letting people know when we're not interested, without all the pleasantries and wasted time smiling and nodding through recounted tales of calorie counting and cleanse days, is a service to them as well as us. People evolve socially based on feedback from their peers and surroundings. If the person hears enough times that their behaviour isn't working for us, they might be able to use it as an opportunity to grow. If it doesn't apply to them, they can use is as an opportunity to utilise my favourite phrase: "Other people's opinions of me are none of my business." Win-win.
Tip: We don't have to be rude to be authentic. I call it loving firmness. First give yourself permission to decline a friend/walk out of a conversation/decline an invite and so on. Accept that you don't want to do what's being asked or expected of you, and sit with that feeling for a second. Give yourself permission. Say, "I'm allowed to not want this, without it meaning that I don't care about the cause/person/event/etc." Once you're okay with it, it will be easier to communicate to your friend. When you sit in the energy of nervous people-pleasing, others pick up on that tension and will react accordingly. It's not comfortable for anyone involved. So get comfortable with your likes and dislikes. Disassociate your dislikes with any meanings other than your lack of interest, and then go out into the world and be authentic. "No, thank you." is a totally acceptable thing to say. It takes guts, but the amount of growth in it for the both parties will pay off in the end.
Tool: Warrior Goddess Training by HeatherAsh Amara. This book is a must for anyone looking to better understand themselves and learn how to create and enforce personal boundaries, self-love, and an awesome sense of authenticity.
"It's okay to call someone an asshole, darling." - Helen
Oh, Helen. This is probably the most validating phrase I have heard in an entire decade. You see, I've spent about five years making myself smaller and smaller because of the outcome of two consecutive relationships with men of similar characteristics.
Because I found myself repeating relationship patterns, I immediately turned inward - which is good - and refused to hold the other party accountable - which is less good. I did a pretty decent job sweeping up and sorting out my sh*t, but what happened in the process is I made myself really small, picking myself apart in order to validate some seriously inappropriate behaviour from my partner.
Again and again I was blaming myself for the unacceptable actions of another person. I put myself down in order to validate what was happening. This is not forgiveness or acceptance. It's actually an expression of deflated ego, which is just as toxic as an inflated one.
On this day while sitting with my three Warrior Women friends, I opened up to them about my relationship and told them what was happening. I defended both his side and mine - you know, to be fair - and as if trying to people-please a person who wasn't even in the room, I'd constantly assure my friends, "It's not that he's an asshole or anything, I just don't understand [ insert some sort of terrible behaviour here ]."
it's perfectly fine to call a spade a spade, or an asshole an asshole.
Finally Helen stepped in. She stared me straight in the face, held my hand, and in a loving, soothing tone, she said, "It's okay to call him an asshole, darling. He is a f*cking prick."
And she was right.
What Helen really did here was give me permission to release the need to justify or psychoanalyse someone's behaviour, and she gave me permission to be angry.
Empathy is a tool that one must master.
If you're like me, you'll use your empathy to justify someone else's actions, putting a reason behind every harsh word they say. I often find myself thinking about the root cause of people's pain; The stuff causing the ruthless behaviour. I am quick to use their known childhood wounds to justify their adult actions, while another part of me simmers, outraged by their behaviour.
But sometimes we need to stop analysing and instead recognise that a person's actions, for whatever reason, are not a puzzle for us to solve. Sometimes it's okay to step back from the false problem-solving to say, "You know what, this guy's just an asshole, and I'm upset, and that's okay." Feel into how that feels!
What this allows us to do is accept the disappointment, and gives us an opportunity to go within and decide if the undesirable behaviour is something we want to allow to continue in our lives or not. This is much more productive than a constant self-battle of blame and shame, or recurring arguments with our partners. When we're in a taxing friendship or relationship, the most important thing we can do for ourselves is to feel our feelings, decipher our needs, and come to a grounded conclusion about whether or not the relationship is working for us based on the present moment.
It's important to let others clean up their own mess.
I say "false problem-solving" above because when we use our empathy to understand where a person is coming from and then expect a different result in their behaviour, we aren't actually creating a solution to anything. Empathy and understanding are amazing skills to master, but if we're using these skills to enable and justify incompatible and even terrible traits of another person, we've got some inner work to do. "Enabling" isn't productive. It doesn't solve the problem or create growth in ourselves or the people around us. Our understanding of their childhood trauma, for instance, doesn't necessarily give them the desire to change. Fighting them on their sh*tty behaviour, convincing them it stems from a root somewhere deep inside is usually a waste of time too, and is often harmful to both involved. We're not anyone else's guru. We're not their educators. Our actions will speak louder than words, and it's the consequences of their behaviour - the result of our actions - that become the best teachers, not our justifying, enabling, or forcing.
Tip: Be angry. So many of us, myself included, repress our anger for the sake of saving face or for being "nice." This usually leads to a blow out later on, or it can lead to fatigue and illness within ourselves.
Go into a space where you can be alone. Maybe your bedroom or the bathroom or even in the shower, if there's room. Stand with your feet on the ground, knees slightly bent. Pretend your holding a heavy medicine ball. On an inhale, lift the imaginary, heavy ball up over your head. On a strong exhale through your mouth, bend your knees and sumo-smash the ball down into the earth, picturing the anger leaving your body and going with it to the core of the planet. Repeat this a few times. Don't be surprised if you come up laughing and joyous.
You see, unlike the other common emotions, anger leaves the body through movement. This is why one might feel like hitting something when upset. Utilising this technique, however, will help you to get anger out of your body in a healthy, non-violent way, allowing you to feel lighter and brighter. You'll also start accepting your anger instead of repressing because you'll know you have a safe and controlled method of processing such a strong, often uncomfortable emotion.
Tool: A journal and a pen. Once a week, write about your true feelings. How did you feel when someone did something? Did a major emotional event happen? The goal here is to be able to identify the emotions that came up for you. Once we can identify our own feelings, we can use them as guides to find our needs. When we realise that situations can be triggering because our needs aren't being met, and when we can identify those needs, we might be able to better understand how to communicate our needs clearly, or to walk away if the other person is incapable of meeting them. It no longer becomes about what you can do to change yourself or the other person in order to create a forced happy relationship.
All of this advice, and just the lovely presence of the women in my life, have helped shape and change me this year - and in such a short time! This is why I cannot express the value of aligned female friendships. When you find women who build you up, ground you, love you unconditionally, and understand you, you know you're in an aligned female friendship.
Set your intentions to create one or two friendships like this, and remember to look for the comfort and the ease. A follow up intention might be to accept that there's certain friendships and relationships in your life that aren't healthy for you. You can begin to phase them out as you align with more nourishing relationships. Once you set the intention, the tools to help you along will come.
I hope you find this Warrior Wisdom as helpful as I do. Let me know your feedback in the comments below! And if you like this post, feel free to share it with friends.