Community is powerful for healing. When you feel you’re a part of a community your nervous system feels safer and your body is more relaxed. We tend to isolate ourselves when we don’t feel well or feel different. The mind can get very critical noticing the differences between you and them. It will focus on all the reasons you’re not worthy, how you don’t fit in, how you’re not like everyone else, how you aren’t pulling your weight, etc. This triggers fear and a sense of danger which kicks in the fight, flight, or freeze response. Then, in a misguided effort to feel safer you might find yourself pulling back, spending more time alone, isolating yourself, and feeling worse physically and emotionally.
Why You Need Community
Humans are group mammals. Our survival is dependent upon the group we belong to. On a visceral level, we feel safer in numbers. It’s important for us to feel accepted by the group. There’s a greater threat to survival when we’re on our own. This is programmed into the nervous system. When you feel like you don’t fit in, it triggers fear. You feel better when you’re accepted as part of a community.
Acknowledging your communities is an effective way to calm your fears and your nervous system. Notice and appreciate all the ways you already are part of community. Acknowledging community support will help you feel more connected and supported. This will dial down pain, anxiety, depression, or discontent. Starting from your current location, note all the ways you’re a member of community.
As I write this blog in my home office my dog is resting near me and my cat is in the other room. I share my home and many parts of my life with my husband. I’m a member of a larger family that includes my adult children, my mother, my brother and his family and all of my husband’s family. Even though they aren’t here right now, I know they’re my community and I can ask for their help if I need it.
I live in a small city. I have friends and neighbors nearby. There’s a grocery store, post office, and gas station around the block. My city pays for law enforcement to keep the city safe. There are city staff who attend to the smooth running of everything the city is responsible for. There’s a freeway nearby that Caltrans maintains. The country and state government take a major role in keeping the peace, providing essential services, and care-taking public land.
Friends and Acquaintances
I have close friends. My community involves the people I volunteer with at the local animal shelter, people in my monthly sweat circle, my spiritual group, my Argentine tango classmates, my yoga teachers and students, fellow mind-body coaches, and birders I see out and about. This is just a small example of my community. Even if I was single and living alone I would probably still have pets that give me companionship and comfort, I would still have family and friends, neighbors, people I live in a city with, in the county with, in the state with, in the country with. All of these contribute to a sense of safety, well-being, and stability.
Take advantage of the community you already have. Notice what feels good about being with people you’re connected with. Be brave enough to choose to be with people you feel the best with. If you don’t feel comfortable with the people you’re with seek out situations where you are comfortable in the community. Notice who you want to get to know better and take the initiative to connect with them. Don’t forget to notice how you feel when you’re in community. This is so healing for your body and soul!
In my 7 minute video below I take you for a walk on the beach during a minus tide and discuss the benefits of community along with pointing out the critters I come across.