I’ve never really been someone who had a tribe - I tend to invest more in a handful of separate relationships, than in a group. But over the years, I’ve become keenly aware of how much I need those relationships, especially when I’m working on personal growth.
I care a LOT about a whole list of things, that may or may not matter to other people - and I thrive when I can spend time with people who care about those same things.
Conversely, I feel frustrated and down when the balance tips towards being with people who care about other things. I find myself smiling and going along with the conversation, rather than offering a deeper connection, because I just don’t care about what they care about, as much as I care about what I care about. And those pleasantries get me down.
Of course, there are always going to be situations where I need to smile and nod, and have the surface-level conversation - but it’s key to my well-being to spend more time going deep, with people who are also wrestling with the kinds of things I’m facing.
The question is: how do you find those people, and how do you cultivate that deeper connection?
I’ve gradually collected them along the way as I’ve been on this path of personal growth, and of course there’s no formula - but there are a few ideas to help you do it, too.
(1) Attend classes & workshops that include time for connection with other people.
You can go to a yoga class at the studio down the street - but if all you do is show up, move your body, and leave, you may feel great physically, but you’ve missed out on the possibility of connecting with other people who also care about practicing yoga.
Explore the studios in your area to see if there’s a place where conversation - or at least Q&A - is a part of the class.
One option here in the Bay Area is The Practice for Women, which used to be located in Walnut Creek, but is on its way to going national. I’ve met some truly amazing women by attending The Practice.
Another option is my meditation studio in downtown San Francisco, WITHIN Meditation, where conversation is a part of every class on the schedule. Students routinely tell us that the time to ask questions and connect with each other is one of the reasons they keep coming back.
What places have you found where connection is a part of the class experience? Let me know in the comments below!
(2) Get out in nature with other people who love being outdoors.
While you can hike on your own, or with your family, it’s also a great way to make time for people you often don’t get to connect with. Rather than making a coffee date, make a date to walk on a trail for an hour - or even just in your neighborhood. Or, meet up with another family and have a group hike, letting the kids explore natural surroundings while you also get to have real conversation with the other parents.
Another great option is to join an organized group hike, especially one that emphasizes meeting new people - like great meetups such as this one organized by Tina Dodds. Tina is a master at creating spaces where women connect authentically with each other - and she picks great places to hike.
What groups do you like to get outdoors with? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
(3) Invite other people to do what you love.
Sometimes, you might assume that someone in your life isn’t into what you’re into - until you ask. Pick an activity you’ve been wanting to do, and just put it out there to several people, saying that you’re going and would love to have them join you.
Making the decision to do something that nourishes you is great for you, no matter what; and if others get excited about joining you, even better!
You may discover a deeper connection than you thought was there, by sharing the experience.
You can also just develop those connections gradually, over time, by meeting up casually over and over again. There are a whole bunch of kids around the same age on our block. Often, one of the parents will text all the others on a weekend morning, just saying they’re going to the park down the street later, and at least one or two other families will jump on board. It’s low-key, easy to say no if you’re not into it or available, and creates the opportunity for us and our kids to hang out without planning in advance. And if no one else can join us, the kids and I still have a good time there on our own!
(4) Find a group to help you do what you want to do.
With so many books and blogs out there (not to mention apps), it’s easy to think you should be able to go on that personal growth journey or create a new habit on your own. Whether it’s meditation, eating better, or parenting, it seems like you should just be able to read enough, and then you can do it.
It’s true that you can often get a lot of inspiration from those sources, but when it comes to putting new ideas into practice, it helps so much to do it with a group.
The support you get just from being in it together is hugely helpful, particularly in sticking with whatever you’re trying to do.
I’m encountering this right now as Elsa Perez Dean and I complete our 14-day reset, Nourish & Savor, with a lovely group of women. Just knowing that a whole group of us were doing it together, helped all of us be real about the challenges that came up, share our wins, and stay committed through the full 14 days.
The sheer power of groups to help you keep going is also one of the main reasons meditation groups are such a key part of building that practice. If everyone else is sticking with it, you’re not about to get up and leave in the middle of a meditation session - but if you’re at home, practicing with an app, it’s easy to just open your eyes and tap to end it.
What groups have helped you do what you want to do? Tell me in the comments below!
Take a few minutes to consider how you’re feeling about the people you spend time with:
Are there people you’d like to go deeper with, or people you spend a lot of time with but aren’t excited about? See if you can rebalance: what invitations or obligations can you say no to, so you’ve got more time to spend with the people who nourish you?
Are you feeling like you need more people in your life who are into what you’re into? What activities could you do that might connect you with other people who care about what matters to you? Make a list and pick one to try out in the next month.
What are you curious to try out? Let me know in the comments below!