To Tribe Or Not To Tribe

By Sara Regester

I belong to a spiritual community called Deer Tribe. I never thought much about the benefits of belonging to a tribe (defined as a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect) until I found myself in one. We share a common passion for personal growth through a very ancient shamanic lineage that is a rigorous path of leadership development for spiritual warriors involving a combination of alchemical ceremonies and kick-ass teachings. You put the two together, and you get radical transformation AND evolution (like self-growth on steroids).

We have our own language called “deer speak” and when we use it “out in the world” we may not be understood. We have shared ceremonial experiences and a lifestyle that sets us apart from other “tribes.” But within that community, there is still room for diversity honoring individual autonomous freedom. As a tribe, we are all growing; some a bit ahead of us, others a bit behind us, but everyone is evolving and growing at their own innate pace.

You may belong to a tribe, too. It is our nature to want to fit in, conform and to feel like we belong. We want to hang with people who “get us” so we can lean-in for support when we face a challenge. We feel more confident in our vulnerability when we feel supported. We can go out on a steeper edge to stretch and grow when we surround ourselves with like-minded folks who are right there with us on our journey.

Not all tribes are created equal. Some tribes may limit growth and keep people stuck in a box of limitation. If the tribe is too homogeneous, we will only see one point of view. We will miss the opportunity to see new perspectives or alternative viewpoints. Limiting thoughts will also stifle our growth, happiness and success due to tunnel vision and black and white thinking.

We can lose our identity if we give up too much of our individuality to fit in and conform. This may feel like wearing a coat that is too small. It just doesn’t fit the truth of who we are in our true nature. We will then sabotage our happiness and success when we get stuck in the push-pull of resistance that keeps us in the comfort zone of our tribe, knowing there is a more authentic expression of our gifts and truth. It is stressful to be caught in the push-pull of trying to break free from a tribe that does not support us to shine authentically. Getting unstuck from our resistance feels like freedom.

To opt out of belonging to a tribe makes it a lot more difficult to feel happy and build success. Cutting yourself off from the support of a community can lead to loss of hope, depression and isolation. Basically, doing it all on your own without support takes a monumental effort to find success and happiness without burning out. You have to create everything solely on your own. It can be exhausting not to have the support of a tribe around you to add loft to your wings. It’s as if you have to do all the flapping without the benefit of catching the draft of the thermals to help you fly. The same is true if you are in a tribe and you are not receptive to the support of the others around you. You can flap less and fly more when you are part of a broader community of supporters.

According to the book “The Upside of Stress” by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., belonging to a tribe is part of our brain-wiring. Our brain chemistry is designed to build and strengthen social bonds through the release of the neurohormone oxytocin. During times of stress, oxytocin will fine-tune our social instincts.

Stress resilience is activated by oxytocin when we lean into like- minded supporters in the face of challenge and adversity. Connecting with others for support cultivates courage and confidence to meet a challenge successfully and to find meaning from adversity so we can be brave. This tribe-friendly tend-and-befriend stress response is how we are designed to bond and connect through a hug, a kiss, a text message or a shared beer. Elevated levels of oxytocin make you want to connect with others.

Belonging to a like-minded tribe will support your happiness and success to shine your light brighter into the world. Working collaboratively within a tribe will create more happiness and success through the interconnection and inter-reliability with those around you to add some loft under your wings so you can fly with less effort. Being part of a tribe will support you to feel more confidence and courage to step out of your comfort zone so you can grow at the edge.

Sara Regester, BSN RN, is a Duke Certified Integrative Health Coach. She uses her knowledge from Shamanic studies of Indigenous healing to help individuals explore their “Evolutionary Blueprint” revealing the patterns that help her clients to get unstuck. Sara is the founder of Directions 4 Wellness, an international health and lifestyle-consulting practice and is the author of the ebook “How to Grow from Your Stress. She supports individuals and groups through her speaking, workshops and retreats.

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