Tomorrow I start facilitating a 13-week workshop based on the amazing book by Julia Cameron called ‘The Artist’s Way’. It is a course to rediscover your creativity but gives you so much more than that, I feel. For me, it’s not just about the creativity, it is about getting to know yourself, tuning in to yourself and having the courage to fully be yourself. In that, you can create and live the life you want.
While I was preparing for the first session, I read Julia’s essay in the book about ‘Forming a Sacred Circle’. She writes; “As artists, we must find those who believe in us, and in whom we believe, and band together for support, encouragement and protection.”
I will go as far as to say that, that doesn’t just apply to artists! It applies to all people who wish to grow, develop and live a fuller life.
I am very much an advocate for finding your own strength and learning to trust yourself and your own instinct - I believe this is really important in order to create and live the life you want. However, I cannot, and will not, dismiss the Power of Sacred Circles. When you spend time with people who believe in you, who encourage you, who challenges you to do better - in a compassionate and positive way - there is nothing quite like it! It will teach you so much about yourself (and others) and give you such a boost!
It feels important to make a bit of a distinction here. Many of us have good friends that we like to hang out with and have a great time with. These people may be supportive and encouraging too but, many friends (and family members) are often driven by their own agenda or fear. This is a totally normal human experience and I’m not saying you should ditch your friends because of it!
But, think back to your latest conversation with someone close to you. Did they actually listen to what you were saying? Were they open and non-judgemental around your emotions? Or did they jump in and try to fix the situation? Did they start telling you about their feelings around it or how it reminded them of a situation in their life? Again, this is a totally normal reaction and it happens all the time. And we are probably equally guilty of doing it to our friends.
Where a ‘true’ Sacred Circle differs, is that the people in that group, aren’t there to fix you. They aren’t there to compete with you. They aren’t there to tell you what they think you should do. They are there to witness your journey. They are there to support you and believe in you. They are there to encourage you to explore your options and test out your ideas instead of throwing a wet blanket on it and saying that it can’t be done and that it’s just pure silly to try!
Have you experienced that last situation?
Is there anything more heart-breaking that telling someone about an idea you have, that you are so passionate about, that you fully believe in - and then they just shut you down with negativity and doubt? I think it is one of the most heart-breaking things ever.
About the ‘jumping in and fixing it’ part - this is also a very natural reaction as we are so used to being in problem-solving mode! However, it is not up to us to ‘fix’ someone else! It is their responsibility and, as much as you think you are doing them a favour by telling them how to fix it, you are actually not. You are robbing them of the opportunity to learn and grow. You are disabling them from making their own decisions and also making their own mistakes - which is invaluable (however painful it can be).
There are so many ways to support someone without jumping in to fix the situation or giving them advice! You can start by simply listening, openly and non-judgementally. You can start by acknowledging how they feel rather than changing the conversation. You can start by letting them finish, instead of interrupting them and hurrying their answer. Let their idea grow, let them complete their thoughts.
To clarify, there is nothing against getting feedback and advice but, be careful who you ask for it and always check in with yourself about how you feel about the situation. Don’t follow someone else blindly.
Back to the Sacred Circle; Finding a group of people who believe in you and support you can be life-changing. It takes courage to put yourself out there in order to create such a group because it requires honesty and vulnerability. However, finding those people and connecting with them, is well worth the risk.
A Sacred Circle is built on trust and respect. Julia writes: “Envy, backbiting, criticism have no place in our midst, nor do ill temper, hostility, sarcasm, chivvying for position. These attitudes may belong in the world, but they do not belong among us in our place as artists.”
Again, we are not there to compete or out-run each other, we are there to build ourselves and each other up.
Julia also believes that “Success occurs in clusters”. By bearing witness to each other's ups and downs, we also experience a shared energy of positiveness and success which will lift all of us up. So we are in this together. Alone, as individuals, but very much part of a shared experience and support network. We are there for ourselves as well as each other.
As I prepare for my workshop tomorrow, I can’t help feeling immensely blessed and fortunate that I get to be part of such a Sacred Circle. Getting to bear witness to other people’s journey is so inspiring and motivating and beautiful. It can be tough to see people struggle, of course, but by believing in them and by showing them that you believe in them, you can support them in getting unstuck and moving forward. And You can also get unstuck and move yourself forward.
I hope that you have many Sacred Circles in your Life.
If you don’t - I encourage you to go find one! 😊💕