Updated: Feb 4, 2022
Can we talk about community and healing?
The notion that your problems are only yours to deal with within isolation often leaves us even more scared because like the age old saying goes, “No man is an island.”
“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” Helen Keller
The world around us is often the source of our pain but it can also be the source of our healing and closure.
What is community?
A group of people with commonalities: norms, values, identity or purpose.
When plagued with mental health disorders, our emotions get clouded with feelings of loneliness and isolation from exclusion. We feel unworthy and unloved. Sometimes when these feelings take centre stage in our minds, the only thing that can pull us out is to see ourselves in a different light, through different eyes.
The community we surround ourselves with is a key component in that resolve.
Community can play a crucial role in promoting mental health awareness, reducing stigma and discrimination, supporting recovery and social inclusion, and preventing mental disorders.
Community can include family, friends, work colleagues. Healing through community is about finding connection, feeling accepted for who you are, feeling supported and allowing those groups of people to be your anchor.
Why community is crucial in mental health
"Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging have the courage to be imperfect." Brene Brown.
The unnerving feeling that we do not fit in often only increases our anxiety and can even reduce our sense of self-worth. The pressure of trying to conform doesn’t serve our mental health.
Finding a community in which you feel like you belong is like finding arms that were meant to embrace you as you are without having to change. There’s so much warmth and peace in that.
Being part of a community can have a positive effect on mental health and emotional wellbeing. Community involvement provides a sense of belonging and social connectedness. It can also offer extra meaning and purpose to everyday life.
Community provides a ready supply of listening ears, shoulders you can lean on, hearts that want to share advice or a space for you to rant. Sometimes all you need to help you heal is someone who can say earnestly, “I understand.” Community does that for us.
The communities we place ourselves aren’t there to only hold our hands through the hard times but to also be the firm voice of reason to hold us accountable. All this is invaluable in helping us find peace and purpose.
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” Pablo Picasso
Purpose amplifies our lives, giving us reason to get out of bed every morning and just keep pushing. In finding purpose, we find different roles we can fill within the community and in that, we learn a lot about ourselves and what we didn’t know we were good at.
Sometimes that purpose can help another person in need of mental comfort. In that, we find our own healing.
“Life engenders life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” Sarah Bernhardt
Positive peer pressure
Being in the right kind of community could push you to not only want more for yourself but to also emulate habits that would get you to that point. Because the peers within your community have ready information on how they are achieving wellness, you’re placed one step closer to achieving the growth you desire.
If you spend time around people who speak positively about therapy and how it has helped them deal with trauma and achieve self-improvement, there’s a higher likelihood that you’ll try out therapy.
If you spend time around people who speak about how physical activity and exercise helps them cope with stress, there’s a higher likelihood that you’ll try out therapy.
Space to learn
Just like positive peer pressure, community provides a space to learn. Communities provide a space in which you can learn from those that have tried different means towards achieving wellness or maintaining mental health. They provide a space in which you can freely ask questions without the fear of judgement.
In our previous post, we talked about the importance of holding yourself accountable. If you are having a hard time doing it yourself, that's where community comes in. If you’re willing to share with your community your plans for wellness and healing, you’re likely to find people or individuals who will remind you of the commitments you have made to yourself.
They will provide encouragement by reminding you of everything you’ve been able to achieve in the past and how you’re equipped to do that again.
When you’re not equipped to take on the challenges you face in meeting your commitments, they provide resources to help you get there.
Accountability partners within your community serve as the firm voice that reminds you that “You can do this.” and the arms that lift you back up when you hit a roadblock.
How to find community
What are your values? Interests? Hobbies? Talents? And are there communities of people that are set around these things for instance book clubs and fellowship groups. Identify what you want from the community.
Companionship to fill in the lonely hours?
Conversation to help with reflection?
Banter to lighten your mood?
Defining what you need from a community will help you zero down on the types of communities you target and possibly the information about yourself that you choose to share within those spaces.
Put yourself out there
As hard as this may be for some people, the best way to find your tribe is to reach out to them.
If you’re at a seminar and overhear a group of people having an argument over time travel in the Marvel Universe and this is your jam, chime in, then courteously introduce yourself.
If you’re in the comment section of your favourite band and see a witty one liner that you find interesting, chime in, then go a step further by sliding into their DMs to introduce yourself.
The worst that happens is that they won’t engage with you. But that won’t kill you. People with social anxiety won’t take this lightly but not getting mutual engagement from a stranger won’t kill you.
Social media groups and channels
There are so many friendships and connections that people have built on social media so much so that online friends provide even more support than those in real life. Join social media pages and groups that align with your personal interests and values and push for further depth in your relationships to cement that community. You can follow us on Instagram to join a community dedicated to holistic wellness and personal development.
Hear us out. Yes, there are apps on which you can find people who are compatible with you to create friendships.
Especially as an adult, it gets really hard to make new friends and connections. You don’t have to be in the same space or even country to appreciate a connection. Just be careful when you decide to take this route.
Look within your circles
Your community just might be within the alumni groups from your primary and high schools. They could be at work or among your relatives. The key is to listen closely to what they share to see whether they reflect your values.
We all have a desire to feel wanted, loved and worthy.
Community fills those gaps and nurtures a part of ourselves we did not know existed while healing us.
"The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members." Coretta Scott King