Good morning everyone, and welcome to NF Learning Lab, where together, we access our innate, iNtuitive wisdom as unique and self-valuing women, and share who we are becoming in a safe, sensitive community.
In recent weeks, we have been using, as our discovery lens, the life area of ‘family of origin’, through which to explore the ten areas of life that we work with in NF Learning Lab. This week, we focus our family-of-origin lens on the life area of ‘friends’.
Some of us may recall a research-based article that widely circulated from the Huffington Post in 2013. It reported on how important friendships are to reducing the impact of stress on women. Here’s a quick quote, “When life becomes challenging, women seek out friendships with other women as a means of regulating stress levels. A common female stress response is to “tend and befriend.” That is, when women become stressed, their inclination is to nurture those around them and reach out to others.” Unquote.
That article went on to cite a Nurses’ Health Study from Harvard Medical School, which reported, and I quote, again, “That the more friends women have, the less likely they are to develop physical impairments as they age, and the more likely they are to lead a contented life. The study also showed that not having friends or confidants is as detrimental to your health as being overweight or smoking cigarettes. The researchers examined how well the women functioned after the death of a spouse, one of life’s greatest stressors. They found that even in the face of this major life loss, women with close friends with whom they can share their burdens fare better than women who lack close friendships”, unquote.
I’m guessing that most women can relate to this article. We may not always be awake to the truth of what it says, but somewhere within us, we understand, that our close friends are important contributors to our physical, mental and emotional welfare, regardless of whether those friends are women or men. So then, it seems that it is probably also important that we find friends with whom we can be really honest, and candid. And for iNtuitive-Feeling women, those special friends are likely to be iNtuitive-Feeling types themselves. But, how do we learn how to find friends who can truly relate to who we are as unique, iNtuitive-Feeling women? To answer that question, we return, once more, to the modeling we pick up from the people in our family of origin. The bottom line, is that our first ideas about how to do everything, pretty much come from the people in our first families, and from there, as we go through life, we review what we’ve learned in our early, formative years, and decide what still fits for us as adults.
Have you ever stopped to think about the friends your parents and siblings had? Where did they find friends? In their neighborhood? At work? At church? School? Social gatherings? And what do you know about the measures your parents took to choose friends that could be close?
What rules, spoken or unspoken, did your family of origin have about the friendships you should encourage? Was it okay to have friends of a different gender? Different ethnicity? Different religion or social status? In what ways might you still be adhering to those unspoken rules? Are your friendships similar to the kinds of friendships your parents and siblings had, or are they different?
Did any family friends ever become enemies? If so, what did you know about why that happened? What did you think at the time? How did you feel? What sense can you make of it now? Has that ever happened to you?
With these questions in mind, we’re going to move on to our breakout discussions.