There’s a lot of talk about ‘finding your tribe’, so much so that it begins to sound cliche’ or can be overlooked simply as a catchy hashtag.
But, if you consider how immensely important it is to attract and nurture our ‘tribe’ proactively, we might pause and realize that it’s worth greater consideration.
There are many excuses that hold each of us back from surrounding ourselves with people who support us, help open the right doors to the success we’re seeking, hold us accountable, and bring us up in all areas of life. Any of these sound familiar: comfort, busyness, fear of rejection or hurting people, to name a few?
I sat down with Lori Harder, author of A Tribe Called Bliss, who breaks ‘tribe’ down tactically to help us find real connection and depth in our friendships, so we can unlock our deepest potential.
“Relationships are our life’s assignments. They provide all the education one could possibly need in a lifetime,” shares Harder.
And she knows this intimately. Having grown up ina small town in Upper Michigan, “made even smaller by the fact that I was homeschooled through high school and raised in a restrictive religion that didn’t allow me to associate with anyone who wasn’t in my small church.”
She continues, “When I became a teenager, the rules of the church dictated to appear perfect and follow the rules. I learned really quickly that your ‘tribe’ determined your beliefs and reality. I turned 18 and knew I had to leave and find a new tribe.”
A brief history of tribes
The word ‘tribe’ gets thrown around a lot, so I asked Harder to shed some light on their historical evolution.
“Since the beginning of time, we have been in tribes which have been important for survival, safety, and wisdom. Today, the same applies, we have just been taught that social media, or the people around us, are our tribe. But, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Tribe is intentional, bonded, and has something that ties you together like a common interest or goal.”
If you ever have a nagging feeling of emptiness of loneliness, this is associated with the lack of tribe.
“Shouldn’t we feel connected, seen, understood, cared for, accepted, and fulfilled during this uber-connected period in history? Why do we feel so lonely in a sea of people? Why do we feel so afraid and disconnect from one another? Why do we feel we have no support? Because all of this false connection is hypnotizing us into thinking we’re connecting, when really, we are just being transactional.”
Harder goes on, “My intention with tribe is to create a safe space for people to talk about anything and everything. This is the space where your goals in life, love, relationships and business are welcome. It’s the place where no topic is brought up without feeling the feelings safely, talking about them, and also being held accountable to find a loving, peaceful solution. Ultimately, it’s the people to whom you feel the most connected to whom you can go for anything”.
If you’ve been burned and are inclined to skip this….
Then please consider that, “If you are feeling lonely, misunderstood or isolated, this means no amount of surface-level connection will fulfill you. The more we avoid real connection, the worse we feel. I get that it’s awkward or you have been hurt before, but you’ve got to get back on the horse in order to get the reward. Keep trying. It’s going to be weird, you’re going to get hurt, guaranteed! But, you’re not the same as the first time around, and now you have the tools to navigate the tough times and grow from them instead of retreat. You can do hard things and it’s how we get better!”
Intentional choosing and nurturing your tribe
Without intention, inertia takes over and we become passive participants in our own lives. With your community, this is no different.
“When we’re not intentional with tribe, we are not intentional with our needs and goals, which can lead to more of the same: disappointment, lack of connection, inauthenticity, surface-level conversation, trying to fit in, or people-pleasing.”
And, to do so, Harder suggests meeting regularly with ‘“tribe meetings”. “You have to keep a regular meeting if connecting is not your strong suit. If not, the relationship will quickly start to die, much like anything that gets neglected.”
What’s holding you back?
What’s holding us back from finding real, deeply connected community?
“We are either not finding a new tribe in fear of our old one getting upset at us and questioning our character, or we are afraid of not being worthy of the new one and getting rejected before we even begin. This fear of rejection has an even deeper root, which is an inability to trust and accept ourselves even if no one else does.”
Harder continues, “The thing is, a lot of us feel trapped in friend groups, religions, or families that aren’t supporting us, our dreams, or beliefs. We stay because that ancient fear of survival is very real and feels extremely painful to leave. Except, it’s a familiar pain, so we choose that over the unfamiliar pain and potential leaving offers.”
Here’s the thing, you don’t have to abandon your current friends and family. Harder agrees, saying, “I’m not saying you have to leave completely. For those in really bad situations, yes, but the rest of us can probably just start crowding our plate with so many people and things that are aligned with who we know we really are, that we just don’t have as much time for the negative. You can always invite others along for the ride with you, but don’t expect anyone from your past will want to be your plus one on this wild ride of becoming your highest self.”
How to best prepare yourself to attract your tribe
In order to attract your “soul tribe”, you have to show up as yourself fully, and that takes inner work.
How do you begin? “I think the first step for showing up for yourself is to start clearing out what is not working for you by saying ‘no’, looking at what is draining you, and creating boundaries. Without a clear runway, nothing we desire has any room to land, including new tribe! Next would be to ask, what are the rituals and habits that love me back? What do I need right now to feel more supported and how can I give that to myself first?”
How to find your aligned tribe
“Start taking classes (gym, dance, music, acting): anything where people meet regularly. Once you’ve become a bit of a regular, you can start saying ‘hi’ to familiar faces, getting names, and making small talk. Then, say something like this: ‘Would you ever want to grab a coffee for 30 minutes after this to connect or see if there is any way I can support anything you have going on and vice-versa? No pressure at all either way – I’m just always looking for like-minded people and I love seeing if I have any connections or ideas for people in my circle,” suggests Harder.
If they agree, “Leave at the 30-minute mark so you honor your word and they want to potentially meet again.”
Or, head to social media. Harder admits, “I am not above creeping you on Instagram. I highly suggest this! Search hashtags in your area to see who’s checking into locations, or look at who is going to networking events and posting in your area a lot. I sent messages to about fifty people and a lot of them did not answer. But, the right people will eventually say ‘yes’ with enough tries!”
Formalize your tribe meetings
Once you’ve assembled a small group of like-minded people into whom you want to invest deeply, it’s time to plan your tribe meetings.
“The most important thing is to form your tribe from the beginning with the clear intention that this a place for clear, open, and honest communication. We also hold the intention to stay committed even through the tough stuff, so this helps us remember to start every tough conversation with the intention of resolving any issue with love and peace.”
Next, “I have seven agreements that we voice regularly and go back to if we feel anything is bothering us. These are a collection of all the things that stop us from having the connections we want and also from accepting ourselves: Always be your own guru, release expectations, no gossip, don’t take it personally, hold fierce boundaries, be authentic, and forgive yourself and everyone else.”
Ask these questions
At each meeting, take time to discuss these questions which Harder shares in the book:
Harder writes, “Tribe moves you from transition to transcending”. Further, she shares, “In between every next level or chapter in life is transition. How long or painful you want to make it will be determined by the people with whom you choose to surround yourself.”
Want more success and fulfillment in your life? Then check out this free masterclass with Deepak Chopra and me. In it, we share the 5 key things you need to know to create a more meaningful life!
This article was originally published on Forbes.