All my life, I’ve wanted to help people.

If there was some way I could share wisdom, provide a shoulder to cry on, or inspire a new way of thinking or doing, I would go for it. I would give my best advice on how to fix her situation and pull in for the tightest mama bear hug I could muster. It always felt so good afterwards – like a warm sensation that spread out from my heart, radiating its golden light all around me, and bring a feeling of purpose and comfort to my smiling face.

{I suspect you can relate to this too.}

But like all things in life, there is a shadow side to this impulse to be helpful.

It’s the people-pleaser, the performer, the little girl inside you who desperately wants to feel like she belongs.

It’s when you are listening to a girlfriend cry about her woes and you can’t help but jump in mid-sentence to tell her you’ve got the answer and can fix it for her. When all she really wanted was for you to listen, which you sort of knew but something inside you needed to shout out. That something is part that wants to matter.

When operating from this space of wanting to be helpful, it’s not actually about generosity. It’s about trying to get your needs met through other people. You want adoration, validation, anything to let you know that you are seen and enough for this world.

As a recovering people-pleaser myself, I have done a lot of my own healing work around this darker aspect of wanting to help people. One of the places I’ve found the most healing is in communities of women – sister circles.

It was a few years ago that I was introduced to two powerful concepts that have helped me overcome this darker side of people pleasing: sovereignty and witnessing.

For The Woman Who Just Wants to Help


The best explanation I’ve ever heard of this word is remembering your power.

When you are in a place of sovereignty, you remember that you have the ability to meet your own needs and don’t need to play out patterns of trying to get them met through other people.

When you are operating as a sovereign being, you are taking beautiful care of yourself as a powerful and creative being. You are open-hearted enough to give to others in a way that feels so much better than when you do it to seek their approval. Bonus: You are more able to fully receive from other people in a way that feels way better than when you were approval-seeking.

I’ve noticed that, the more I’ve been able to focus on taking care of my own needs (resting, feeling the full range of my emotions, nourishing my body with good foods and water, nurturing my creativity, spending time with good girlfriends), the more I am able to fully give to others when they are in genuine need. It doesn’t feel depleting and I am much more present than I used to be – no thinking of ways to get out of the conversation or getting super bossy. It’s way less exhausting to be sovereign.


Witnessing is one of the most powerful methods for connecting I’ve learned about in a space of sisterhood, and I’ve been able to apply it in all areas of my life including my marriage and my work.

It’s just like it sounds – when you are a witness to someone, you aren’t intervening in their own process.

It doesn’t mean giving advice or offering your take on the situation. When you witness, you are simply observing and saying “yes I see you.

This was tough for me to understand at first. It felt like it was going against my compassionate, helpful nature to sit and watch someone else suffer. If I was worried, I would intervene. I would proudly be the first girl to offer a box of tissues to the sobbing girlfriend.

But by sitting quietly and observing someone else’s struggle, you are creating space around them to allow them to work through their own process. You are holding the vision of sovereignty. You get to open your heart and watch them open up more and more until they can see what needs to be healed in order to transform. It’s completely magical to witness in person.

So this means watching them cry without offering them the tissue, and instead wait for them to ask. Because when you offer them a tissue, you are sending the message that what they are experiencing needs to stop. That it’s not okay to be feeling what they are feeling.

You’ve likely experienced this before. Like in those moments when a friend is falling apart in front of you and you have no idea what to say. But, before you know it, they are hugging and thanking you. You felt like you didn’t do much but are relieved and happy to know they are feeling better. You are holding space and being a witness for their own transformation. It’s so magical!

This can be applied when witnessing a sister struggling through her creative process. When you see her struggling, resist the urge to perfect, to teach, to not let her stumble. Because it is through our own stumbling that we find our way. We remember that we are powerful creative beings that can meet our own needs, which serves as fuel for our creative lives.


I share this wisdom with you as a person who still struggles with standing in her own sovereignty and showing up as a fully resourced sister who can witness and hold space for any woman in need. This is a lifelong journey, and we all stumble from time to time.

But the knowledge of and devotion to this mindset has served me in countless ways, but particularly in my relationship with fellow women – my sisters. Cultivating deep, trusting relationships with sisters (in person and virtually) has allowed me to grow into a more courageous, creative, and compassionate version of myself.

What about you? What’s been your experience with sisterhood? Have you practiced calling in sovereignty or witnessing before? Share in the comments below.

Photos via Rosa Delgado

For the Woman Who Just Wants to Help

Wisdom and rituals for slow & seasonal living

Sign up for my once-in-a-while email newsletter about all things rites of passage, seasonal living, and meaningful community.