Every one of us craves the feeling of belonging, by nature we are communal or tribal, it is built into us to be in relationship with others. Think back over the course of your life and you will see this play out in different ways- the group of friends you spent most of your school days with, the sports team you became bonded with, if you belong to a church community, your dance class or music group; every one of these groups became in essence your “tribe”, you did life together, helped each other when one of you was in need, shared the hurts and joys in your life; whether it was just for a season or years. We are communal in nature, in many cultures the women would all gather together in the kitchen to cook and share life, help with children (the old saying “it takes a village”) they knew the value and need to be part of a community.
This instinct to belong to a tribe goes back to as long as humans have existed, there was a time that being part of a tribe was a necessary part of your survival – if you wandered off and tried to be “independent” of your tribe- good luck.
In this modern age we have wandered far from this tribe mentality as being necessary for our survival; we push ideas about being independent and looking out for yourself, the idea of “every man for themselves”. While there is nothing wrong with being your own person and not conforming to others around you, we have lost something in the process, we have lost our connection to something bigger than ourselves, we have lost our primal instinct to help others and be in connection, to grow together and keep each other accountable. This loss of our tribe has created a lot of personal islands where we have too much pride to ask others for help, we suffer alone and in silence with our hurts.
One of the first questions I ask my clients with depression is “what does your community look like?” Depression tells us to isolate- which in turn makes us more depressed and want to isolate even more. One of the first and best things you can do to help with your depression is find support, gather around people, be in community. Historically those who were part of a tribe and lived and did life as a community reported lower rates of depression and suicide; so if your depression tells you to be alone, don’t. Your tribe may look like your family, group of friends, community group at church; for those who may not have those as an option I highly encourage finding a community to be a part of at your church, or a shared interest group. Finding your tribe is an important and necessary part of your mental and emotional health.