I’ve known for the last year or so that I’ve wanted it to be something so much more than it is, so I promised myself when I got back from my most recent book to her forefront Missy how did deepen friendships for lifelong health and happiness that I would make some big decisions about what I needed and wanted girlfriend circles to be in what I was hearing in this world and I came back and I did 30 days of a listening campaign where I promised myself of making no decision. I just wanted to listen to wisdom, listen to what the needs were and make a decision at the end of that month for where I felt I was being called to lead girlfriend circles calm in the future and two things were abundantly clear to me at the end of this process.
The first one is that there is definitely an epidemic of unacknowledged loneliness in our country. Most of us don’t necessarily think of ourselves as lonely, we’re not Hermits, we’re not recluses, we actually are some of us tired of people around all the time and yet it’s abundantly clear that for the vast majority of us, we know that we are not as connected, supported, bonded, known and loved as we want to be. We might know a lot of people but we aren’t feeling known and that breaks my heart I want to do something about that.
The second thing that was abundantly clear was that it’s not just a matter of all of us needing to meet more people. For a lot of us we actually need to deepen those friendships, we actually need to create better friendships and so while many of us need to keep meeting friends. We all need to keep deepening the friendships that we already have and so this loneliness isn’t because we need to go meet more people or that we only need a website that helps introduce us to other people but it’s that we actually need teachers and resources and experts and a community that is committed to helping us create better friendships.
In general we haven’t been taught this stuff, we didn’t have these classes, we didn’t grow up being modeled really healthy relationships and we now have a world that is largely disconnected. Yes but disconnected and I tried to reconcile these hungers and these needs and my place in this and what I want to contribute to this world and to that hunger and I realized I don’t have a passion to create a new app. I have a passion to create new friendships; I don’t have the passion to develop new technology as much as I have the passion and the expertise to develop new better relationships. I don’t want to just create a network I want to create a support net and so I really was clear that I want to be a teacher and a friend and somebody who journeys with you, a midwife and encouraged her, a cheerleader in whatever way I can help you and we needed to bring in a new way of creating this technology to help make that happen and so I’m really excited that we have some big announcements coming up for girlfriend circles as we reopen what we want to be about and there’s three reasons why we have to do this for your sake and for mine and for the world.
Three reasons why having friends matter, not just having friendly people in our lives but friendships.
The first one is for our physical health: This is no small thing, one of the best predictors of your health 20 years from now is how you can answer the question, how supported and loved do I feel right now, how do you answer that question dictates your immune system, how likely you are to die prematurely, your ability to recover from surgeries and disease and diagnosis and cancer and not have heart attacks. Every type of death is linked to us feeling disconnected hugely. We’re talking like three to five times in some studies of us feeling connected, helping, protect and buffer our bodies that much more from those diseases and ways of dying huge.
The second area why we have to care about better friendships is for our mental health. The studies are staggering for how feeling connected not only lowers our stress but it actually protects and buffers our bodies and our brains from the impact of the stress, so it’s not necessarily that having friends lessens the stress. We might be triggered in this world but it actually does lessen how much we absorb the negative impacts of that stress, how much those affect our body which leads to all these diseases, which leads to our outlook, which leads to our hope and so for our mental health and for like it’s connected to brain disease and decay and Alzheimer’s and you know being able to still have those social connections impacts our ability for brain health in just astronomical ways in addition to physical health and mental health and connected is our emotional health.
There are very few things maybe sleep that affect us more than our ability to have intimacy and love in our lives in terms of our happiness, in terms of us feeling hopeful, in terms of us feeling known and seen which makes us feel like our life matters, which makes us feel like that’s why we’re here and helps us be able to receive that feeling of being loved. That feeling of saying I’m enough, I’m chosen oh I want these things for you in a really big way, if I could snap my fingers and change this world, it would be that we are more connected that we feel loved, that we participate in community. It would change world undoubtedly for a lot of us, we have a few objections, we certainly want those three things and yet we kind of have an objection to want it just to happen instantly to us. We don’t want to put forth the time, the energy, the nerves and insecurity the money it might take to actually develop this community.
We might be quick to say oh yeah I want that but we’re often just as quick to say oh but I don’t really want to go out in the evening to get it. I don’t want to have to buy a book or pay money for it, I don’t want to have to like rally up my energy. We just kind of hope that we might meet the right person sometime we have this belief that there’s this right friend out there and if we just meet her, it’ll be okay but that’s not how it is. It’s not a matter of meeting or finding this person, it’s a matter of developing the right relationship with the people that we’re meeting. A friend isn’t somebody we find, it’s something that we foster and so even when we sit there and say oh I just want to like have it happen and I’m just going to wait for it to happen. We know that we have to actually learn about this stuff, we have not been taught this we have to pay attention to it so that we can see the opportunities we have to do things differently.
We have to practice new social skills, we have to practice putting ourselves out there and initiating, we have to practice the things that foster healthy friendships right much like going to the gym, we don’t go to the gym and you know when we start sweating just kind of give up and be like oh this is bad for us. I’m starting to feel tired, this must not be good. On the contrary when we kind of have that feeling of sweat we say oh wow something must be working right and we don’t just go once and then say it didn’t work, I’m not stronger, I can’t run faster, I don’t lose weight. We understand when it comes to our physical health that one time isn’t enough. that sweat shouldn’t be a deterrent and yet when it comes to our emotional health, our relational health, isn’t it true how often we will sit there and use those exact reasons as saying oh it makes me nervous I am sweating, emotional sweat or I feel insecure or it’s not working, I’ve tried that before or I went out and I called her. so she hasn’t called back and so much like the gym.
Ladies, we can’t just give up on this we can’t just shrug our shoulders and just hope it happens, we really have to commit ourselves to this. I believe that if we had a community of us that we’re saying I want my life to look different, I want to feel more loved, a year from now than I do right now and the definition of insanity is doing the exact same things and expecting different results right and so rather than just kind of continuing to plug along and hope that it’s different. I want to invite women into something where we say we are going to make it different, we are going to choose to pay attention to our friendships to learn the skills to practice those things to inspire ourselves to connect and to take those emotional risks for the sake of relationship.
The three areas of our lives that are hugely impacted by our sense of connectedness and our relationships our physical health our mental health and our emotional health which one excites you the most right now. Which one matter the most to you, which one can you feel is that your body that you know is absorbing the effects of that disconnection. You’ve heard me say it before but not feeling connected is as harmful in your health and is the equivalent of being a lifelong alcoholic not good on our bodies. Can you feel it or the mental health do you feel the stress, are you lying awake at night worrying, are you looking at things and feeling discouraged.
Do you know that there your brain is not feeling hopeful and ready and available to you. The stress is weighing you down, that worry, that anxiety is impacting you or is it the emotional health were you longed to feel that sense, that we feel when we feel supported, you know when the oxytocin is flowing that feeling when you get done talking to a good friend and you feel loved and validated and seen and you feel hopeful and happy and it’s going be okay and you feel like you’re not in it alone.
Which one of those three excites you the most right now, which one do you long for that a year from now, six months from now, you can look and say I am making a difference on my relational health and I can see the impact it’s having in this area. I can’t wait to hear what everyone says which ones are impacting everybody. What we’re hoping for and I look forward to see people sharing their experience here.