From a young age, I felt the soul-shaking influence of sisterhood and the stability this connection brings. Is there anything more powerful than an outstretched hand of another woman in your direction? For me, it was and continues to be a lifeline, especially since I became a mother. And yet when it comes to work, many women have experienced the opposite of this and have even been bullied by other women. It seems counterintuitive that we'd value these female friendships in our lives and turn on them at work.
Some research attributes this to workplace conditions and attitudes women are being asked to adapt in order to reach the C-suite. One article even suggests we "need to be 'half a bitch' to succeed." Yes, really.
This month, we're officially ditching the "bitchy" or "mean girls" approach for support and sisterhood, not shame, both at work and in life. And one of the first people we turned to for advice in this quest is Alexandra Elle. The poet and author has acquired a tribe of sisters who want to tap into her intentional living philosophy. I often check her Instagram for inspirational affirmations and journal prompts, but it was her post about celebrating another woman's triumphs that really hit home for me.
It read: "Celebrating another woman's triumphs or success will never take away from your shine or glory. If anything, it'll add to it and create more light." So of course, we had to reach out and ask her to explain why it's important to do this and how we can get back to that. Step one is to show and extend genuine support. "If given a chance, listen to her story," she tells me. "It's human to feel competitive sometimes; it's normal to feel jealous, but we have to reel in those negative emotions and not let them dictate our relationships with one another."
These connections have been crucial to her own success in life as a mother and author. "My friends are my chosen family," she says. "I need them to stay on track. It's important to have these types of soulful connections; they keep me grounded and feeling supported." So in a bid to truly support, not shame, this month, we asked Elle to share her steps toward sisterhood mastery.
Don't Be Fooled by Outdated Perceptions
Elle asks us to put aside any perception we have or judgment of women that we're bitchy and hypercompetitive and instead focus on forming bonds with female co-workers and friends. "I only want to see the best things happen for the women around me," she says. "And the women I have in my circle or come across have been hyper-supportive of my journey. Now, of course, we may not always come across positive people who support us. But I don't feel that is a woman-centered issue; it's more of a 'type of person you are' thing."
News Flash: Women Do Want to Support Women
With the push for gender equality, now is the time for sisters to join together, but there has been article after article that suggests "women seem to cut women down" rather than support or encourage them. But it's just simply not the case, and Elle encourages us all to foster those relationships at a community level. "Sometimes I feel that society likes to trick us into thinking that we [women] cannot, or have no interest in, getting along, working together, and standing in support of one another," she says.
"I have seen with my own eyes the opposite. Now more than ever it feels like we are joining hands and celebrating not only our differences but similarities."
Tap Into the Power of the Tribe
There have been several powerful movements this year (think #MeToo, the Women's March, and #TimesUp) that have encouraged us all to band together and enforce monumental changes and societal shifts to ensure an inclusive future for all women. Just as Sebastian Junger wrote in his New York Times best-selling book Tribe, Elle wants us all to tap into that tribe mentality "because it takes a village to thrive and be great. We cannot do life alone; it wasn't meant to be lived that way." We couldn't agree more.
Know That Her Light Makes You Shine Bright Too
The media hype and cultural perceptions might showcase that women don't want to revel in another woman's success, but Elle sees things differently, and she wanted to usher in a new message with her Instagram post. "I wanted to remind people that we can still glow and be great in the light of someone else's success and triumphs," she says.
But how can we learn to bask in "her" glory and understand that seeing her shine makes us shine too? "By silencing the noise of negative self-talk and self-doubt," says Elle. "When we find ourselves questioning our personal glory, it creates more room for envy. Once we discover a way to celebrate our light, life, and purpose, we will be able to rejoice those of our neighbor genuinely."
Help a Friend Who Needs It, and You'll Reap the Rewards
There is no time like the present. Elle encourages us all to reach out to a friend, listen to her story, and bask in her success because it will only benefit yours. "My friendships are full of celebrating one another," she says. "A close friend of mine is writing her first book of poetry. When she shared this with me, I immediately praised her for leaping into being an author and sharing her story. It made our bond grow even more because supporting and honoring someone else matters. It not only affirms them but creates a relationship that is rooted in trust, love, and comradery."
Alex Elle's Journal Prompts
Elle's journal entries are always so inspiring and purposeful. So in a bid to get us all started on our "support, not shame" journey, we asked her to share a few journal questions. Answer them, send them to a friend, and keep the sisterhood circle alive.
1. What do I need to feel supported?
2. How does sisterhood show up in my life?
3. What are five reasons my past does not define my present?
4. What am I growing in my emotional garden, and what am I weeding out?
Finally, we asked Elle to share a special affirmation for you, our MyDomaine readers, to continue to inspire love and friendship across all facets of our lives. Print it out, make it your bookmark, or stick it somewhere you'll see it and reap the benefits every day.