Who’s in your tribe: how to recognize those valuable relationships and the repercussions of not having them.

We all hate the idea of making several trips in the house after a run to the grocery store. Veins will be popping out of our arms, fingertips purple, and those bag lines will darn near make permanent indentions in our before we are willing to make a second trip to the car…especially in the winter months. Remember when mama would come home from grocery shopping pull up in the yard and blow the horn, signaling you and your siblings to come help get the groceries out of the car? Yes, we were mama’s tribe!

We speak heavily about creating safe spaces for others to share their story, in essence, your tribe. Your tribe should be those people you can go to for various issues in life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Fun fact: LIFE WILL GET UGLY! Sad fact: some people don’t have the right people in their corner to help them during those ugly moments. Social interactions are vital for our very existence.  Holt-Lunstad, Smith, and Layton (2010) identified three components of social relationships: degree of integration in the social network, social interactions that are intended to be supportive, and perceived social support. Can you identify at least two or three people in your life that you truly vibe with, know they will be able to support you, and you are able and willing to accept their support? These people are your tribe!

There are some people that hold on to the philosophy that no one can be trusted, give them my contact information and keep them on your prayer list. Yes, getting to know people (on purpose) can be weird, but the alternative of not having people is worse for your mental and physical health in the long run because there are negative outcomes for those who do not have meaningful connections with others. The conclusion of a study found, “The influence of social relationships on the risk of death are comparable with well-established risk factors for mortality such as smoking and alcohol consumption and exceed the influence of other risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity (Holt-Lunstad, Smith, and Layton, 2010).” I’ll say it one more time for people in the back PEOPLE NEED PEOPLE!

One of the most useful interventions I use for those struggling with anxiety and depression is social interaction. I’m constantly checking in with my clients on who they are connecting with in their everyday life. As a clinician, I know that these relationships will be potential anchors for my clients when we have terminated our sessions. At times, these are the same people that will tell you it is time to go talk to a professional about what’s going on with you. Our tribe is our first line of defense, our sounding board, our cheerleaders, our motivators, and those we can trust to give us a gentle push in the right direction when we are not on the right track (accountability partner).

I have sat in the therapy room with people, waiting. Yes, waiting. Waiting in silence knowing exactly what they need to help them move through the healing process but waiting for them to give me permission to share in their pain. This made me think about the burdens we try to bear on our own every day when we have others ready and willing to share our burdens.

First, there’s Christ. He’s already bore the burden and payed the cost of our sin, but we MUST be willing to confess them to him, count on him to help us through our process. 1 Peter 2:24 (NIV) reads, 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” The church (the people) too has a responsibility to be a tribe for one another. Galations 6:2 (NLT) literally encourages us to be a tribe, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.” Ladies and gentleman, your duty as a follower of Christ is to literally be a tribe!

I pray that this post has been useful to you. I hope it encourages to evaluate the people in your life and identify those in your tribe. Remember, an essential element is that the relationships are reciprocated, GIVE AND GET! Don’t forget to share, like, and comment.

Much love,

Ms. Jackson

P.S. Photo by Dazzle Jam  Works cited: Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB (2010) Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review. PLoS Med 7(7): e1000316. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316

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