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You’ve most likely heard the quote “It takes a village to raise a child”. But I think there is a quote that is equally true….” It takes a village to nurture a woman”. Women have a long history of gathering to support one another and work together. In ancient tribes as well as some tribes in far-off countries now, while the men are away hunting for food, women gather, cook, clean, and raise their children collectively. But in today’s society, we’ve lost that sense of female community. And it’s taking a toll on women, both individually and collectively. That’s why it is important for today’s women to have their tribe.
Women today are given the message that we need to be strong, independent, and powerful. We are taught to be self-sufficient and that we should be doing everything on our own. This certainly has been true for me in my life. My whole life I have worked to be independent and do things for myself.
I have had some great female friends along the way, but that independent, “I can do it myself” and “I don’t need anyone” mindset isolated me emotionally, because being independent meant not asking for help in the moments when I needed it the most. I was closed off from allowing myself to be vulnerable in difficult times. But that “independence” becomes a source of stress for many because we lack the emotional support that we need.
I was quick to offer my support to others who needed it…but I did not allow myself to receive it. Allowing yourself to receive comes from a place of vulnerability, which many women are uncomfortable with. Most women are great givers and are quick to nurture others, but no longer know how to handle receiving from others. We need our tribe or village or community of women to help.
Here is why you need a tribe in your life!
Stress is at an all-time high these days and it only seems to be getting worse! But an Oxford study showed that women who spent time with their friends at least one day a week had lower stress levels. Every time women gather together with friends the feel-good chemical oxytocin is released. This helps to lower stress! It also improves the overall quality of life!
Your spouse or partner cannot be all things to you
One mistake that I see a lot of women making is expecting their husband or boyfriend to give them the type of emotional support that they need. While men can offer some level of emotional support, they just aren’t wired to fully support a woman emotionally. Being in touch with emotions is not a strong masculine trait. It’s a feminine energy trait. And any man who is living in his masculine energy will not be comfortable facing all the emotions that women express.
It’s not a flaw in men…it’s just one of the differences between the genders (and there are always some exceptions to the rule). We need to stop expecting men to be able to support us emotionally in the same way women can. They cannot be all things to you…and should never try to be. If they try, they will fail!!! But having a tribe of women to whom you can express your emotions can give you the kind of emotional support that you need. And it will take the pressure off the men in your life!
Support and encouragement during the tough times
When I talk about stress I often refer to the “fight or flight” response that is so common. But a study out of UCLA has shown that with women it may be different. Instead of fight or flight, women often experience “tend and befriend” That means that in times of stress women are more prone to tending to their children, cleaning the house, and reaching out to other women. This releases the hormone oxytocin in the body which buffers the stress response. So in times of stress, it’s common for women to reach out to one another for support and encouragement. When women have a community of other women that they can rely on and connect with, it helps to lower stress levels, reduces blood pressure, and lowers heart rate.
Have you ever wanted to eat healthier, or go to the gym regularly, but struggled to get off of your butt and do it? If you enlist members of your tribe to help you stay accountable and keep you on track, it can help. They can be there to be your cheerleaders as well as you set goals for yourself! And you might even be able to find one or two members who decide that they want to make changes right alongside you! There can be strength in numbers, so having a few friends doing it with you can help you achieve your goals more easily!
Being true to your nature
Looking back throughout time, women have been the gatherers. As the men went out and hunted, the women in a village collectively gathered to help maintain things at home. Together they raised children, supported one another, and helped to provide things for those in the village who were older or who were frailer or weaker than the others. They were always a source of support for one another, physically and mentally.
But in the modern-day, we’ve stopped relying on one another as often. And fewer and fewer women have the mental, emotional, and physical support of a community of women. The result of this is a sense of isolation for many women. And along with that for many comes depression and anxiety. We are programmed genetically to commune with other women. And with relationships being more important for women than careers, being out of touch with others is a growing source of stress for so many. It’s time to return to our true nature and reconnect with other women!
The gift of being yourself
Men may scratch their heads and claim that they don’t understand women. But other women do! And having a tribe of women gives a woman the gift of being herself. It is often with our closest female friends that we can share some of the deepest and most vulnerable parts of who we are….and know that we are accepted. I have been very lucky to have a network of women who do just that in my life. We are all so different, and yet having the support of those ladies is invaluable!
The need to laugh
How often do you laugh? Whenever you laugh it actually benefits your mental and physical health. Laughing regularly releases dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins that can help you feel better. It lowers stress and can reduce anxiety. It strengthens immune system function and improves lung health. Getting together with the girls is a great opportunity to laugh. And we tend to laugh more with others than we do when alone. So having your tribe will help you laugh more…which is great for your health!
Nobody understands you like your tribe
Want to go shopping again or go to see a good chick flick? While guys may not always understand why women do what they do, other women do! When you have a tribe, you have other women who are there to do the girly things with you that the man in your life would rather not do! So, whether it’s shopping for shoes or makeup or going to see the latest Hugh Jackman romance, the girls always get it….and are happy to go along!
Learning to receive
A lot of women are very giving. In fact, it’s expected that we will do for others. We are the nurturers and caretakers. And yet, so many women struggle to receive, particularly in times of trouble. Some wrongly believe that it is selfish or needy to receive, while others fear being a burden. But when we don’t allow others to give to us, we rob them of the opportunity to experience the joy of giving. And we isolate ourselves in the time when we need the support of others the most. Yes, receiving can make you feel vulnerable. But when you have your tribe of close women, they can help you break out of that and begin to learn how to receive.
Although I did not allow myself to have a tribe for most of my life, things changed drastically over the past several years. After I lost my mom and my marriage ended, I began challenging the beliefs that I had held for so long. One of those beliefs that limited me was that I didn’t need anyone. That time in my life was traumatic for me and showed me that I did need the support of others. I focused my intention on building a tribe of amazing women around me. I have been blessed to have done just that.
My tribe continues to expand and it’s amazing how different my life is now. It has taken a while to learn how to allow others to give to me and how to ask them for support when I need it. But they hold space for me and allow me to be who I am…warts and all. We have discovered that we are all beautifully quirky, creative, and unique and value the things that we see in one another.