By Eileen Heartford
Do you think your group of pals has grown beyond your years? Maybe you no longer feel secure or understood. You can find that you have less and less to share with the folks in your usual group, which makes you feel lonely or alone. If so, you're not the only one. Welcome to a fundamental dynamic of ongoing growth!
Many of us struggle with the feeling that we don't fully fit in with our traditional group or tribe as we continue to mature because we may have grown or changed beyond the boundaries of tribal norms and no longer feel the same sense of belonging there. To provide a sense of security, other members may have made the tribal laws more stringent. We might experience a sensation of alienation or detachment as a result.
In reality, everyone of us is a member of multiple tribes at once. There is your original tribe, which is the family you were born into, as well as all the communities you have chosen to join, such as your job tribe, social circles, faith-based community, neighborhood, and more. Because they are made up of people who are always changing, these communities are dynamic and constantly in motion. A sense of dissonance develops when there is significant change occurring in the community or the individual.
How do we approach this? First and foremost, it's critical to understand that historically, tribal allegiances were created in order to survive. To assure the group's safety and survival, they were modified over many years. Individuality had to be given up in order to trade off security for survival.
The roles are reversed in contemporary culture. Change is necessary for survival at every level of being, whether we like it or not. Technological advancements are accelerating the speed of change, which has occurred more quickly over the past 100 years than it had over the previous 6,000 years combined, according to sociologists. Individual adaptation is now essential for survival, but it doesn't necessarily occur at the same rate as the evolution of our numerous tribal societies. The ensuing discord can lead to severe pain and friction.
Confusion between the ideas of “connection” and “community” also causes dissonance. When they actually pertain to separate attributes, we frequently confuse the two. Connection is related to connection, which is the objective technology or medium that allows us to create communities but does not accurately reflect the caliber of those communities. Simply put, connectivity gives people the chance to interact with one another online, by text, phone, or through any other social networking platform.
Over time, relationships are created via fruitful engagement, which results in community. There is no quick fix; it is a process that takes place when relationships of intimacy and trust are fostered and valued.
And here's the warning: When we mistake community for connectivity, we lose sight of the sacred character of real community and begin treating people like objects. We try to buy people's loyalty or amass friends on social networking sites rather than building intimacy over time. But becoming friends is just a way to interact; it doesn't lead to intimacy.
In actuality, sociological experiments show that technologically dominant connectedness eventually leads to alienation and social disintegration. Josh Harris, one of the pioneers of social networking on the internet, found in a ground-breaking social experiment that the more people's private lives were exposed by 24/7 technology, the worse their sense of intimacy and relationships became until the community broke down in violence and destructive behavior.
To build tribes that truly offer a sense of closeness and belonging, it is necessary to reexamine our ideas of community.
The psychologist M. Scott Peck outlined six essential qualities of a true community in his 1987 book The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace. Peck highlighted the virtue of accepting difference via realism in addition to the apparent elements of inclusivity, commitment, and participative consensus. The community gains from a larger perspective to better understand the whole context of a problem when each member gives their individual viewpoint from a place of humility and goodwill. Instead of enforcing a forced obedience to groupthink or cohesion, mutual tolerance encourages individuals to welcome one another's diverse opinions as an essential component of the whole.
Members feel and show sympathy and respect for one another in a setting like this. They enable others to express themselves authentically, learn from their mistakes, and share their vulnerability. They develop the ability to handle disagreement with grace and wisdom. Members pledge to working together to discover solutions rather than competing with one another, listen to and appreciate each other's gifts, accept each other's limits, and celebrate their diversity. In fact, the spirit of peace, love, wisdom, and power is the actual spirit of community. This spirit's origin can be seen as the collective self or as the manifestation of a higher power.
Do you find the way I've described community to be spiritual? It is, in fact, because Spirit unites all of us, despite how apart we may feel from one another.
Because everyone of us displays our thoughts, beliefs, expectations, languages, cultures, and interests in a manner that is distinctively different from that of anyone else, we frequently feel a socioeconomic sense of alienation from other people. We still distinguish ourselves, though! We keep evolving or devolving in response to life in this constant process. Communities that were right for us a year ago might not be right for us now; environments where we once felt welcomed might now strangle us. We can anticipate outgrowing and switching allegiances to many of the tribal communities we once belonged to throughout the course of a lifetime.
However, when we rise above the layers of outward appearance, inner convictions, and social conditioning, we discover in the presence of Spirit a commonality in everyone around us. Maybe it's time to broaden our tribal notions to include a spiritual society that views all people as God's children.
As she peered into the eyes of the destitute, Mother Teresa urged her nuns to discover Jesus in every leper they came across. The building blocks of real community will become apparent when we are able to see past the things that separate us and recognize the ubiquitous Divinity inside one another.
Every socioeconomic divide, belief system, and background are irrelevant in the spiritual community. It is open to everyone and runs on the principles of free self-responsibility and reciprocal compassion.
It takes time to create this kind of community: time to hear, listen, respond, and participate. Spend a moment reading the definition of spiritual community once more. Make time in your schedule to develop that kind of relationship with the individuals who matter to you. You can help create a tribe that you belong to since you are one of the architects of community in your life.