I originally shared this important article in the Winter of 2016. I’m sharing it again now with some updated content. I hope you enjoy…
Let’s talk about one of the most important skills necessary for Master Facilitators to create transformational experiences: the ability to create a tight and connected community among participants in the room.
As a facilitator, if you’re able to create Sisterhood (if you work with women only) and community in the room, then you are poised to be able to create massive results with your participants.
That’s because when a retreat or workshop has a powerful and close sisterhood, there is:
- Love in the room that is healing and transformative
- Bonding & Vulnerability
- More Engagement & Investment in the experience
- Incredibly Productive Sharing
- Healing of old family dynamics
So how do you create vulnerable, loving and trusting community?
To tell you, I need to take you back about 30 years:
I was not a cool or popular girl growing up.
In grade school, there was a group of girls I called the “Clique” – they always seemed to be laughing, have the best clothes, and generally gave off the feeling that not only were they cooler than everyone else, but that their circle was utterly impenetrable.
No outsiders allowed. And all outsiders were definitely not good enough.
Being a sensitive kid, this affected me deeply. I didn’t actually know if I liked the girls in the Clique (because I didn’t really know them), but at the same time I really wanted to be part of it.
I longed to belong, to be seen, liked and appreciated by girls that were seemingly “better” than me. And not being part of it felt like a massive rejection and judgment on my “enough-ness”.
This internal dilemma really shaped me. As I moved into high school and then into college, I evolved to begin to feel proud of how I was my own unique person, and how the various groups of friends I nurtured were not “popular”, but instead utterly real, loving, and truly my tribe.
But there always lingered an itsy bitsy need to be seen and loved by those women in exclusive groups, by those that, in my mind, ran in super-tight circles, knew each other very well…and were somehow more successful and living a better life than me…and OBVIOUSLY being part of their clique was proof.
The notable thing is that for me, the “cliques” were always women, never men.
This was about Sisterhood, and feeling excluded from special Sisterhood in one way or another.
When I discovered Women’s Circles and Ritual in my 20s, Sisterhood changed for me. Not being part of any “cool” groups became even less important, and feeling a belonging in groups of women who understood me and “saw” me took top priority.
But when I became an entrepreneur, I noticed the Sister Wound starting to show up in my business.
The Sister Wound was showing up in how I interacted with colleagues. I observed in myself this fear of rejection, this need to impress, this wondering if I’ll be accepted and admired and loved.
Will she respond to my invitation?
Will she like my project?
Does she like ME?
Does she think I’m not big enough?
I see on Facebook that she is close with such & such, and such & such…is there space to connect with me? Or is this another Clique that I don’t know how to be part of?
Here’s my point in sharing all of this – the Sister Wound runs deep:
Even for someone like me who has done so much work on it, who knows the importance of Sisterhood, who is a leader in the field, and who supports other leaders around it.
Even for the coaching & healing industries where women-preneurs are so evolved, and where the industry is based on changing the paradigm of business in the world.
I believe the Sister Wound is still active and activated because of how women have been pitted against each other for millennia, how (patriarchal) culture has ensured that it will prevail because it knows what can happen when women really come together fully.
So what does all of this have to do with being a Master Facilitator?
For one thing, you need to really understand the Sister Wound inside and out – and know how to leverage it for deep healing – if you are going to be leading and facilitating groups of women. Because if the Sister Wound is in the air, it will eat at your ability to create a solid container for the group, to create community, to create vulnerability and to create a sense of safety and belonging.
The Sister Wound has the tendency to show up when groups of women get together (for example, retreats, ritual circles, etc.), especially if the Facilitator hasn’t created a strong enough container. It shows up in the form of jealousy, comparison, judgment of others, judgment of self, not feeling like you belong, being scared to share, feeling too big and feeling too small.
So as the facilitator, you want to have tools and skills up your sleeve to be able to not only create an environment where Sisterhood will flourish, but to know how to turn things around if triggers come up.
But here’s the other really important piece: you need to be aware of and tend to your own Sister Wounds in order to create a healthy and powerful community and Sisterhood at your events.
If you have trouble with intimacy, or jealousy, or groups of women, if you’ve been part of a group where the leader has abused power, if you are scared of losing yourself in a group, if there’s a part of you that thinks it’s weak to be vulnerable and receive support from a group, if you have preconceived notions about how women become catty when they get together, or too clique-y…these things will stand in your way of effectively and masterfully building the container and the community at your events.
I invite you to look deeply at yourself, and your wounds, and at human nature in order to create more powerful Sisterhood and community!