By Lesley Glenner
In our modern times, building a community can be tricky, fraught, unsatisfying or, at worst, downright harmful- leading to pain, confusion and greater isolation. We live in a world where good slow-cooked connection is undervalued and can be seen as an inconvenience. Our posture on connection is leading to an epidemic of loneliness and depression and also to polarization, intolerance and hatred- the stuff wars are made of, and not just nationally but in families too. Make no mistake, community isn’t a sweet luxury; it’s essential, and food for the soul. In short, we need it to thrive, much less survive, in this world of ours.
As an fiery, introverted, aspirational, empath (Myers- Briggs INFJ), community has always been a challenge for me. I typically felt like my time in groups was either understimulating or overstimulating, unsatisfying or done too soon, too intense or too superficial. As my grandmother would say, “it has a case of the it’s too’s”. And often I felt misunderstood, projected upon, missed or just invisible. But, I knew that community could be satisfying, growth-inspiring and deeply healing. I knew this because I had seen glimmers of this truth. So naturally, being the fiery, introverted, aspirational, empath I am, I set about creating it for myself and for those around me.
That’s why at HoloBeing, Community is an essential concept core. We take community seriously because it’s one of our guiding values. We practice it (yes, it takes practice) weekly in our closed, facilitated practitioner circles. Every week we get better at it, becoming more authentic, emotionally honest, vulnerable, and skillful. Subsequently we receive better feedback, create deeper relationships and attunement, and find more love and belonging.
In over 5 years of weekly group facilitation one of the most interesting lessons I have learned is that three simple skills yield the most powerful outcomes. LISTENING, REFLECTING and WITNESSING are straightforward capacities that can be learned and endlessly improved upon .The impact is that the speaker feels heard, understood, known and safe. Doesn’t that pretty much cover our basic emotional needs?
In our community circles we start with a check-in. Check-ins are important because they give us a sense of who is in the room. While its the same 8 of us meeting each week, we have all changed, grown, failed and succeeded in a myriad of ways since the last meeting. This process allow us the space to be seen, heard and witnessed without interruption or being given advice. It also gives us an opportunity to hear ourselves name where we are in that given moment which can help us internally grow.
These intimate meetings also allow us to practice our listening skills, watch our tendencies to give advice, see our judgments and projections, watch our attempt to rescue someone or to see where our empathy boundaries need tightening. Some days when we are struggling it can feel painful to see another group member celebrating a success. Other days it’s helpful to hear someone else’s perspective when we have lost our own. On the other hand, it can feel funny to celebrate our own successes when another member is grappling with a large failure. At the end of the day these experiences help us grow our capacity to be in a relationship and learn valuable information about ourselves.
What Exactly Is Community?
Proximity over time leads to relationship —> Relationship over time leads to intimacy. —> Intimacy leads to feelings of Belonging.
Community means belonging in a group. It brings us home. A community made up of like-minded fellow travelers provides you with mental clarity, confidence and a constant place to pull resources from when your creativity is blocked. But no one person will ever have all the answers, because we cannot see ourselves in 360 degrees.
So why go through the journey alone when you can walk with others who feel, think and support you? And while friends and family are amazing support, peers and colleagues offer something really special- conditional love and skillful feedback. That means you’re provided with support and inward reflections that are invaluable to continued growth.
When Lack Of Community Leads To Loneliness
Loneliness is a real thing that many holistic practitioners face. When loneliness takes hold the silence and space around us can be deafening. While finding your community isn’t necessarily something that will happen overnight, it most certainly will benefit you in the end. I found my community little-by-little once I was able to put myself out there and though it was out of my comfort zone, I’m happy that I did. My community became (and still is) a huge asset to me; it might even be my greatest professional resource.
It is so easy for us to feel like we aren’t doing enough. That what we are trying to accomplish isn’t going to work or that we should no longer pursue our business endeavours. And without your community to help, it’s also easy to stay stuck in that type of mentality. As humans, we crave to be around other humans and to feel like we belong. And negative feelings can hinder the growth of your business each and every day.
Preparing or continuing to be a holo-preneur is a tedious, time-consuming project. And it can wear you out without a community to prop you up during the less-than-ideal times. Because of this, this small yet incredibly vital move can change up the game for you in the best way possible. As you go through the HoloPreneur Program, you’re going to find that this idea of community is “baked in.” It’s germane to the sacred work we do and for good reason because healing doesn’t happen in isolation. I believe in the work that you’re doing or want to do and so will the people you work with in the future.
How Community Can Help Me With My Business
When you finally do find your community, the world of possibilities opens up for you. You no longer have to “go it alone” and you’re able to create collaborative spaces with others going through the same thing.
When you find like-minded practitioners you can go above and beyond your own expectations and limitations. Community is a natural remedy for isolation, separateness and the feelings of stuck-ness that can occur when you are building in a vacuum. And when you work with people who help you, you are inadvertently helping them too. It’s a wonderful feeling all around and what makes community essential. Everyone is able to build each other up, create amazing work and deliver outstanding services to grow your business piece by piece.
If you are inspired to improve your relationship to Community please use the following journaling exercise as a springboard to deeper awareness which leads to identifying the next right action. If you discover something interesting we would love to know about it!
- What does Community mean to you?
- What do you crave/desire about community?
- What is one injury/ grievance/ withhold you have about community?
- How does your answer to #3 relate to your upbringing/ implicit experiences of community/ belonging?
- Now that you have made your wounding about community known (explicit) what is one small step or choice you can make around engaging with community?
In (Evolving) Wholeness,
Lesley Glenner is a Psychotherapist, Holistic Business Coach and HoloBeing Founder.
Click here to read more about Lesley.