I’m going to be on a panel at the Women’s PowerStrategy Conference Saturday and even though the panel topic is “If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother” (on which I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say, no doubt), I’m preparing a one-page handout about sisterhood (on which I have even more to say). I’m pasting my draft in here and would very much apreciate your feedback.
My two sisters are my dearest friends. Over the years, they have cheered me and comforted me through all my triumphs and sorrows. And vice versa. But we weren’t always buddies. Our early years brought us significant heartbreak and abuse that, rather than pull us together, drove us apart. For many long days, nights and years, an ugly current of bitterness ran through our relationships; fights, ridicule and jealousy ruled our world.
Then things changed. Gradually at first, and then more rapidly, we transformed from sniping detractors into enthusiastic fans. And we have been close for so long now, the times of strife among us truly are distant memories. However, countless times people have come up to me, remarked upon the bond my sisters and I share and then looked wistfully as they’ve said something like, “I haven’t spoken to my sister in years. What’s your secret?”
So I’m going to write down ten things my sisters and I, through trial and error, have learned about how to care for each other. I hope these thoughts on sisterhood help others seeking to form a closer bond with their beloved sisters—by blood or otherwise.
Together you and your sisters must:
1. Decide you want to have loving, supportive relationships with each other and commit to taking action to make that happen. It is best for all parties involved to make this decision and commitment. Meaningful progress will be much slower otherwise.
2. Remember that the past is over; there is nothing you can do to change it. So forgive yourself for any harm you may have caused your sisters and forgive your sisters for any harm they may have caused you.
3. Realize that you and your sisters will inadvertently hurt each other’s feelings after you’ve made a commitment to do the opposite. Forgive yourself and your sisters for these blunders as they occur and move on.
4. Focus more on listening than on being heard, and learn to see things from your sisters’ points of view.
5. Do things together that you all enjoy, things that make you all laugh, things that will bring smiles to your faces long afterward.
6. Tell your sisters often how much you love them. Always put your loving connection with one another above all else in the relationships.
7. Notice your sisters’ good qualities and the admirable things they’ve done. Tell them about these things repeatedly—and celebrate them.
8. If you need to complain about one of your sisters, do it with someone outside of the situation. Look for a sympathetic ear, but don’t try to convince the person you are good and your sister is bad.
9. Think about where your sisters need a hand and provide wholehearted, passionate assistance.
10. Be patient. Some struggles we face are life-long. Have high expectations, but don’t give up if your sister falls short. Hold out an encouraging hand.
This is my first stab at sharing this, so I’m bound to have left some things out. I may elaborate on these and provide examples in the future. I will welcome your comments.