The Wrong Tribe Can Make Us Feel Crazy!
I was recently working with a lovely young woman who had Social Anxiety. Here is how the story goes…(she gave me permission to share this and she is also representative of many other people I have worked with in similar situations).
We will call her Lily (not her real name). Lily was an
Then, because she believed she was socially awkward and was going to be rejected, she acted in a way that made the story true, like a self fulfilling prophecy. We unconsciously do this because we are automatically drawn to people and situations that validate our world view, regardless of whether it is helpful or harmful. If we didn’t match our behaviours to our beliefs, it would shake our understanding of how we think the world works and who we are in it, as well as how we can get our needs met (survival maps). That causes so much distress that we unconsciously detect and are drawn to people who will validate our world view instead. For anyone who has had this happen, had their survival map shaken, it feels like the world is falling apart. We feel constantly unsafe and like there is nothing to hold onto. People often describe it as “the rug being pulled out from under us”.
In short, Lily was repeatedly drawn to people
Over time, Lily developed Social Anxiety and became increasingly socially isolated and distressed, since so much of being able to function in life requires that we are able to interact with others.
When we started therapy, Lily discovered that she actually liked being with people, as long
Then she had to tackle the big one, she didn’t actually have any tribe who were like her in meaningful ways, in the ways that she identified, which was as an introvert (See What we all need for more information). This meant that pretty much every interaction with her tribe (who were extroverts) left her feeling like there was something wrong with her. She didn’t share the same views, interests or activities as her tribe and this made her feel crazy and defective!
The first time Lily made friends with another introvert, she described it as “a relief, a
This is why having a social support system we
Now I am happy to report, she goes with her new tribe of one or two people to the library and intermittently out for coffee. Lily no longer feels socially inept. She recognizes that she DOES BELONG SOMEWHERE, IT JUST WASN’T WHERE SHE STARTED.
Lily continues to spend time with her family and former friends, but she feels comfortable setting boundaries on how and when they spend time together. She gets to share the best of her with them instead of feeling forced and not really being present anyway. She also has a clear understanding and acceptance that it is ok for her to be different from her family (part of her tribe) tribe, as long as she has one or two OTHER tribe members (her friends) who are like her in ways that matter to her.
If you are a parent and there is significant temperamental difference between yourself and your child, TALK ABOUT IT, MAKE IT OK FOR THEM TO BE DIFFERENT and HELP THEM FIND THEIR TRIBE.
Even if you are not a parent, take a look around you. Have you found your tribe?
See you next week!