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  • Writer's pictureRyan Wilson

5 Questions about friendship

Humans are a social species, in fact we are so social that we actually need others to be well. Unfortunately, it can’t be just anyone, it has to be “our tribe“.

We are so deeply programmed with this that we often instinctively dress similarly, mirror each other’s mannerisms or moods, use similar expressions or facial expressions, and adopt similar interests, all because we so desperately NEED and WANT to feel like we belong, because we are looking for our tribe. We often get a sense of belonging from sharing interests, like food, playing on sports teams or religious activities, even work places.

This very old piece of programming comes from knowing that as

 humans our greatest chance of survival is in packs or groups. The cave man who had a tribe was much more likely to survive than the lone caveman who would likely just become some animals’ lunch. In more recent times, the same is true during natural disasters, war or times of limited resources. It is because of this very old programming that having a tribe is often tied to a feeling of safety. We are happier and calmer, more confident we can handle life’s challenges when we have a tribe.

A tribe has to be made up of other people who we feel are similar to us in some important ways, who we feel comfortable and safe with and where we feel we belong. This may or may not include our partners, families, coworkers, team mates etc. In fact sometimes we can be very social, popular even, and yet feel alone in a crowd- that is when we don’t have our tribe.

Here are 5 questions about friendship and your tribe?

1. What were the messages you got about the role or importance of friendships as a child?

Did your parents model that they are a priority? Enjoyable? A crucial source of support? Or perhaps they were a burden, something you had work at, or a source of conflict? Maybe you learned that your friends’ reflected your worth?

Whatever the messages were, without thinking about it too much, take a moment to consider them or jot them down.

2. Now what were the messages you got about what it means to be a friend? 

Was friendship a source of harm, ridicule, compromise? Was it a source of support, unconditional love? Maybe friendship meant just another person you have to please and keep happy? Was it another person you had to tip toe around because they were unpredictable or explosive? Was friendship a source of stress, perhaps even a sense of threat- wondering when they will turn on you, abandon you or reject you?

3. Consider the friendships in your life now- do you have a tribe?

Do you have people you feel you belong with, are similar in many ways to and who you feel confident would have your back if you needed them? People you feel safe with, who you can be yourself with? Do you feel you can disagree or say no to them and know your friendship would still be good? If so, who are they?

Are there people who you thought of as your tribe who do not fit this profile?

4. As you think of your current friendships, which of these messages are you still carrying forward?

How do they play out in your relationships? Do you avoid friendships? Or do you make it priority? Are you afraid to be yourself or are you comfortable speaking out?

5. Are you happy with where things are at in terms of your friendships?

If yes, wonderful! Enjoy this warm and fuzzy moment.

If not, what needs to change? How can you start to find your tribe or be yourself with the ones you have? What needs to happen for you to allow more of yourself to shine through in your relationships moving forward?

As always, we would love to hear from you, either by email, post a comment or @DrAdrianaWilson through twitter! Have a great week!

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