I am writing this blog post two days after my very dear friend Shirley T. Burke and I held our first day long workshop, Back on Track: Get More Of What You Really Want From Life. It was for women only. Isn’t that wonderful! I thought so, but I’ve had several people ask me, “Why women only?”
Shirley T. and I chose to make our workshop for women only because women act very differently when in groups of women than they do in mixed company. I first noticed this difference when a good female friend and I agreed to get together for dinner and include our husbands. My friend and I had a history of taking walks together through our neighborhood. While we walked we talked. You may be thinking, “Of course! They’re women. That’s what women do. Talk, talk, talk!” Our conversations were always from the heart, and they really seemed to feed a part of us that needed deep interpersonal connection. We were both very open with each other about our life challenges and our feelings about those challenges. Because we felt so safe with each other, there was great depth to our sharing.
When we added husbands to the equation I noticed that my friend and I were more reserved, cautious about what we shared. The topics of discussion were more factual and superficial. There seemed to be an unspoken rule that we shouldn’t bring up any topic that might make the guys uncomfortable. Of course we were not conscious of the rule we were following or that we had shifted our behavior to accommodate the makeup of the group. It was interesting to observe that my friend and I seemed to be following the same rule without any prior conversation about it! My hunch is that we had been socially conditioned to act differently in the presence of men.
Observations of the behavior of women over time have proven to me that unless a woman has been wounded by a significant woman in their life, she is more likely to feel safe and open up in groups of women than in mixed groups. The intention of our seminar was to offer women an opportunity to reconnect with important parts of themselves, dreams and interests that they may have lost touch with in the busyness of having a career, a marriage or raising children. We believed that it was important that they be able to do that in an environment with others with whom they could identify and find support.
Women are more likely to understand and support the challenges and aspirations of other women. Women are more likely to “get” women. So, Back on Track was for women only. The result? It was an incredible experience of women enjoying the opportunity to be with other women who are committed to making positive changes in their lives. There was a level of openness in the group that was truly impressive. So, we made a good decision when we made our seminar a women only event!