Gemma rejoices in the power of female bonds and what we can learn from the sisterhood.
Last week, a little trip to see the beautiful blossoms in Hagley Park with my two darlings ended up with me carrying my toddler under one arm, her bike under another, all while pushing the pram and trying my best not to spill my coffee!
On the outside I was calm, but inside was a different story. As the toddler meltdown went up a notch, so did my stress levels. At that very moment, I looked up and caught the eye of a lady walking towards me. She didn’t have to say a thing – she just gave me a look that told me she knew exactly what was happening and how I was feeling. It was a familiar “I’ve been there before” look. An “I see you and I feel you” look. As I got closer she whispered, “I’ve been there before, you’re doing a great job”.
And just like that, I felt instantly less panicked. That one little look and compliment made my day. I knew I wasn’t alone and I felt empowered, so I drank my coffee, scooped up my toddler on to my hip and carried on with a smile on my face.
It’s these small moments of connection between women that can show us the true importance of the sisterhood. The support we can give each other, that understanding and unspoken bond, is a powerful force.
1. Choose your sisters
If you’re like me and have no biological sisters, I have one piece of advice: choose some for yourself! These special women can be cousins, friends, colleagues, team mates or neighbours. Investing in relationships with women who want to see you do well will pay dividends. Women are your strongest allies, so gather them around you on your quest for living a life that makes you truly happy.
2. Celebrate success
I once heard the quote, “Blowing out someone else’s candles doesn’t make yours shine any brighter”, which was very enlightening. Research shows that women benefit from collaboration over competition, and those of us who enjoy supporting other women are more successful in business too. I enjoy the shine theory, because when you help another woman rise, we all rise. So, if you see someone doing well, tell them and give them credit for a job well done. Being secure enough in yourself to praise others is a really great quality. Your circle should want to see you win. If they don’t, get a new circle.
3. Let them know
It’s easy to get bogged down in the relentless juggle of daily life, but don’t forget to tell your sisters they are appreciated. A random text, phone call or token dropped at their door goes a long way. Being part of a sisterhood means you are there, no matter what, through all the ups and downs. By practising gratitude for your squad, you will naturally feel good and strengthen your bond. Research shows that doing acts of kindness for others increases wellbeing.
Being part of a sisterhood means you are there, no matter what, through all the ups and downs.
4. Live and learn
Women have so much to offer each other. Think of the generations of wisdom and knowledge out there, waiting to be found, like little nuggets of gold. Feeling safe and trusted is important to develop any relationship, and in the sisterhood, we should feel that we can share and be vulnerable with each other. Engage in meaningful conversations with women of all ages – we can all learn from one another. Ask your daughters, nieces or younger girls how they feel, what they’re learning and loving in life. Take the time to chat to the women next to you as you wait for your coffee. Never underestimate what you can learn from other women, young or old, or what they can learn from you. Sharing insights is a great gift.
5. Don’t compare
Comparison is the thief of joy. While it’s easy to look at other people’s social media feeds and feel like you wish you had this or that, remember it’s just a highlights reel. Everyone has their share of struggle and strife in life, so however great it may look, keep in mind that no one is immune from pain. Exchange gossip for gratitude – count your blessings and focus on what you do have, not what you don’t.
6. 3am friends
If something happened in the middle of the night, who would you call? Think about your “3am friends” – those who you know would answer your call and be there for you. We should be making the most time for the people closest to us, investing our energy into them. Emotional synchronicity and being tuned in is important. There is huge comfort from knowing you have people who are there for you no matter what.
7. Why wellbeing matters
Science tells us just how essential relationships are to our wellbeing. If you were to pause and think of the best moments in your life, it’s highly likely they involved other people. Connection to others can give you purpose and meaning, and it’s also one of the best antidotes to the downs of life. Connection is an evolutionary driver. We need our tribe to survive and thrive, and when we support those around us and show kindness and compassion, that is reciprocated. We also have a deep psychological need to belong, so investing in relationships – friendships, family and romantic partnerships – is not a luxury, but a priority.