Feelings of unworthiness and self hatred are deep wounds that need emotional healing. Women’s circles are the balm, the elixir, the soothing embrace of compassion, of healing and growth. Whether they are women’s healing circles, professional career women’s circles or contemplative prayer groups for women — the companionship and acceptance you find in a circle of like-minded women will change how you see yourself.
And this has the power to change your life.
How do you stop feeling bad about yourself? What are women’s circles — and how do they help you stop the cycle of unworthiness, self loathing, and even self hatred? These tips for joining to starting a circle for women are inspired by two events: a reader’s comment and my own experience in a contemplative prayer group for women called Sounds of Silence (which I wrote about in Finding Your Way Home ~ Echoes of the Moon).
Here’s what a reader recently said on an article I wrote for women who feel bad about themselves:
“I was born again 4.5 years ago and I’ve come a long way,” says Ann on How to Feel Better About Yourself. “I still get sad and down on myself at times (not always) for my past. Yes, I KNOW that’s not how God sees me but I have such a huge history of rejection and trauma that sometimes I wonder if it will ever all go away! I pray diligently, read Scripture and pray with others. I also read great Christian books. I’ve given it my all to be better and live better. Quite simply I just get overwhelmed at times. Then, I also realize how far I’ve come so I’m not down on myself all the time. In fact much less all the time. It’s such a terrifically huge journey to overcome. I think sometimes exhaustion plays a role too. Any ideas or thoughts? Much appreciated.”
Great question — and one that we all often struggle with. How do we stop feeling bad about ourselves? Especially in a world that is constantly pushing us to be more successful, look younger, get a better job, have a happier family, lose more weight and buy more stuff. Of course you feel bad about yourself! So did I (until I got serious about going deeper with God in silence and contemplative prayer. I also joined a women’s circle called Sounds of Silence, which was powerful).
“I feel bad about myself” was my identity for most of my life. Sometimes I still beat myself up for words spoken and unspoken, mistakes, regrets and failures…but I’m much quicker to pull myself out of that tailspin.
Can a Woman’s Circle Help You Stop Feeling Bad About Yourself?
You don’t have to be a Christian to benefit from the tips in this article — nor do you have to join a women’s healing circle. In fact, the bulk of this article is about circles of professional career women. I’m sharing some research and interview excerpts from an article I wrote a couple years ago for Vancouver-based alive magazine.
I’ll also share some of my experience with a women’s contemplative prayer circle in Vancouver called Sounds of Silence. I didn’t join this circle because I feel bad about myself; on the contrary, I joined because I felt healthy and whole enough to sit in silence with God for long stints of time. Sitting in silence can be extremely painful when you feel bad about yourself…and it can be the most healing, liberating thing you ever do. But you have to be prepared to face yourself at your worst.
So, let’s start with circles for professional career women! If you have questions about women’s healing circles or contemplative prayer circles for women, ask me in the comments section below.
What are women’s circles?
Women’s circles aren’t “just” about spiritual growth, emotional healing, social connection, intellectual stimulation, professional success, artistic expression, or physical health. They’re about all of it. And, surprisingly, women’s circles have the power to heal the planet.
“Women’s circles are as old as the human race,” says Chris Zydel, founder of Creative Juices Arts in California. “Women intuitively know the value of developing a trusted community that helps and supports each other in practical, spiritual and emotional ways. Being part of a circle is essential to a woman’s overall health and wellness.”
Chris is a creativity healer and business owner; her eclectic identity encapsulates the essence of women’s circles. They’re not “just” about spiritual growth, emotional healing, social connection, intellectual stimulation, professional success, artistic expression, or physical health. They’re about all of it.
And, surprisingly, women’s circles have the power to heal the planet.
How women’s circles affect Mother Earth
“We have twelve years left before imminent climate disaster,” says Stephanie Jhala, MBA, founder of A Mother’s Movement in Vancouver, BC. “For generations we embraced the masculine. The feminine has been shunned, wounded and defaced. Now more than ever we need all humans to embrace their caring, nurturing, empathetic, healing and regenerative sides. I believe mothers can be the portal to restoring balance to the planet by activating maternal power.”
Stephanie is a leadership coach who encourages her women’s circle— a deeply connected community of mothers — to rise to positions of leadership and close the gender gap. “The healing nature of women’s circles starts with sharing sorrows, celebrating joys, and communicating authentically,” she says. “It then spills over into our homes, neighborhoods, boardrooms, governments, forests and oceans.”
If you feel too bad about yourself — too sad, tired, overwhelmed or depressed — to think about healing the planet, read What to Do When You Feel Unloved and Unwanted.
Women’s circles are an ancient tradition
Circles aren’t about one woman healing and flourishing, or even about a group of women sharing wisdom, resources, and support. Since the beginning of humankind circles have had the power to restore balance to our environment.
“Thousands of years ago, women gathered in circles as an imperative and regular part of life,” says Stephanie. “It was a place to share sorrows and joys, be heard and held. Now science shows that when women gather and create an intimate and authentic space, oxytocin is released. This love hormone is also evident when women give birth, breastfeed, orgasm, and connect. It bonds, heals, and creates feelings of love and wellbeing.”
A modern twist on professional career women’s circles today
Women’s circles may have started long ago around fires in caves — and they definitely didn’t start because women were searching for “I feel bad about myself” on the internet!) — but they are blossoming in boardrooms today. According to The Fascinating History Behind Your Monthly Women’s Circle on Well and Good website, Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In movement helped plant the seeds, showing that women can make inroads at work by gathering together, setting goals and talking about challenges.
Jodie Lightfoot launched Your Wolfpack — a women’s circle conceived over coffee with Stephanie in Vancouver — on the Lean In platform. “Stephanie had a brainchild to create a ‘girl gang’ of fierce women who support each other,” says Jodie. “With busy lives, we shelved the idea. Now, five years later, we both created circles.”
Your Wolfpack meetings are informal gatherings involving activities such as “mindful moment” hikes, potluck dinners, goal-setting lunches, yoga classes. This circle connects professional career women who are unapologetically and wildly creating their own paths, carving out their own niches, and learning how to trust their own instincts.
If you don’t think you’re smart or talented enough to join a circle of professional career women, read When You Don’t Feel Good Enough to Be Loved.
How women’s circles help heal pain, trauma, and low self-worth
Women’s circles are as unique and varied as the women involved. But one thing is the same for all: they can heal a woman’s spirit, identity, and confidence. The confidence gap starts young: between elementary school and high school, girls’ self-esteem drops 3.5 times more than boys, according to Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America. A study called From the Locker Room to the Boardroom: A Survey on Sports in the Lives of Women Business Executives found that more than 80 percent of female executives played sports growing up. When girls participate in extracurricular activities, they gain leadership skills that stay with them for life.
The powerful effects of women’s circles ripple outwards and help restore balance to families, societies, and even our planet. The center of this healing isn’t the activity of the women’s circle itself. It’s the women who are involved: they are getting healthy, healed and whole! They learned how to stop feeling bad about themselves, and start taking care of their lives.
How do you stop feeling bad about yourself? You explore different ways to grow emotionally, physically, and spiritually. You give yourself time and space to heal your wounds.
How to find and join a women’s circle in your area
Explore the Lean In or Meetup websites to find a professional woman’s circle near you, or talk to women at work about the possibilities. If you’re interested in a more emotional, spiritual or artistic gathering, search the internet or approach local organizations aligned with your interests. You might consider joining an online women’s circle. Digital gatherings are a good option for women living in rural areas or communities without likeminded folk…but I encourage you to meet in person if you can.
I found my Sounds of Silence contemplative prayer women’s circle by searching the internet for “contemplative prayer groups.” It didn’t matter to me if men were part of the circle; I attended a silent retreat with both men and women in Squamish last summer. I can happily sit in silence and pray with anyone 🙂
However, if you’re considering a healing circle or contemplative prayer group because you want to explore how bad you feel about yourself, search for a group of women only. Women’s circles are healing, powerful and transformative — if you find the right group.
5 Steps to Starting a Women’s Circle
Can you start a women’s circle if you’ve never been part of one? Yes! But do your research. Talk to or correspond with women who have been part of a circle of women. Be clear that your intention is to start a circle to help women stop feeling bad about themselves.
- Set your primary intention: spiritual growth, emotional healing, creative expression, physical health, professional networking. Create a unique blend!
- Write a short description of your women’s circle and possible activities. This will clarify and strengthen your vision.
- Name your women’s circle. Be as creative or conservative as you wish; you can always revise later.
- Plan when and where to meet. You might gather at home, at work, in a coffee shop, or under a canopy in the forest.
- Share your vision with someone you trust. Widen your embrace and invite kindred spirits to participate! Post a notice in your local paper, library, or community center.
You might also learn what happens in contemplative prayer circles of women. Here’s a recent blog post about my Sounds of Silence group: Do You See What I See? Echoes of Pleasure
What do you think? Is it possible that joining or starting a women’s circle can help you stop feeling bad about yourself?
Feel free to share your thoughts or questions below — especially if you feel hesitant to be part of a healing circle of women. Does the idea frighten, offend, or even repulse you? Your reluctance is worth exploring. It may contain clues about why you feel bad about yourself. Self-awareness and insight will help you heal, and grow forward into a new season of life.