How to choose the right tribe for you

13/06/2019 09:00:00 by Bev James

Human beings are social animals, who naturally seek out others as part of their wellbeing and survival. Itís a behaviour thatís ingrained into our way of life, and itís our nature to seek out a tribe, and search for belonging. But, where does this need come from? And how can we make sure weíre in the right tribe?

Learning from our ancestors 

From the earliest time in human history, living within a tribe was necessary for our survival. Our ancestors weren't designed to live without others, as being in a tribe offered a fundamental part of survival: protection. 

Protection was important for a number of reasons, namely that there is safety in numbers and centuries ago, humans were much lower on the food chain. As such, the protection a tribe offered was the difference between life and death, particularly for children, who take years to fully develop and fend for themselves. Furthermore, being in a tribe also meant that food could be found, or later in human evolution, that food could be farmed, while the vulnerable people in tribes, such as children or elders could still be protected and cared for. However, tribes have given us more than protection and a full stomach, they also gave us social connection. 

We’re wired for social connection 

Being in a tribe is a learned survival technique that was passed down from generations of tribal living, forming the first communal system for humans. This allowed us to create social bonding practices including origin stories, passing down learnings from one generation to another, and building traditions. These are important facets of our identity that we have carried with us throughout the generations, to form a wider sense of who we are. For example, the passing down of stories, maybe around a campfire, is a scenario that can still be found today, however, it’s more likely to be a gathering around the TV or in an online community, and the stories told will be very different. 

Regardless of the shift in how we’re connecting, the need for social connection is still as important as ever. A recent study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, found that social animals, like humans, seek out the company of others, especially after periods of isolation, because our brains find it rewarding. Furthermore, findings from scientist Matthew Lieberman suggest that people experience social pain, for example being called hurtful names or left out of a social situation, feel this as real as physical pain. A multitude of studies of mammals, from rodents to humans, suggest that we are profoundly shaped by our social environment. Today, the threat of not being in a tribe is unlikely to hurt you physically, however, we crave ‘social survival’ and we want to be part of groups that make us feel good about ourselves.

Identify the tribes you’re in

We are all part of tribes, whether we’re consciously thinking about them or not. Your tribes might be familial, social or community-based, they could be based on mutual interests, or conducive to social, economic, cultural and/or religious ties. Whatever sparks the initial connection, it’s important to identify your online and offline tribes so you’re able to make a conscious decision about being a part of it. 

In order to identify your offline tribe look at the people in your life, your family, friends, colleagues, gym buddies, and so on. Make a list of these people, perhaps breaking them down into different categories, and ask yourself: who do I spend the most time with? Who am I contacting and talking to often? How do these different relationships make me feel? Do I feel inspired and supported by the people in my life? Do you share mutual interests? How do you spend your time together? Take the time to do some self-reflection here and to think actively about what kind of tribes you’re in currently. 

Similarly, to identify your online tribes look at your social media and ask yourself: who do I follow, like and comment on the most? What groups am I in on social media? What am I seeing most in my feed? How does my social media feed make me feel? Does this tribe add value to your life? Are you inspired to achieve your goals with them? Most of us don’t take the time to stop and think about who are engaging with online, however, the people we follow make-up part of our online tribe. If we aren’t consciously thinking about how that tribe is affecting and shaping us, we could be ignoring the positive, or indeed negative impact they’re having on our lives. 

Choosing your ‘right’ tribe 

American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, Jim Rohn famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most with. So, now that you’ve reflected on the tribes you’re currently in, and the people who are shaping your life, it’s time to consciously make a choice about your right tribes. 

Choosing your right tribe requires effort, self-reflection, authenticity and confidence. As we’ve explored, it helps to know where you are because this will help shape where you want to go. If you don’t find value or feel inspired by your current tribes, or if you want to start a new tribe, here are some top tips to help you:

1. Be self-aware and connected with what is going to serve you. 

2. Remove judgement, but embrace critical thinking. It’s okay to recognised that certain tribes are no longer serving you but don’t place judgement on them. 

3. Be active, not passive in your pursuit for your tribe.  

4. Be brave and be willing to put yourself out there. Attend meetups, pursue your passions and follow people that inspire you and align with your goals. 

5. Don’t be afraid to start your own tribe. 

Human beings are social animals, and choosing the right tribe is an important part of our mental wellbeing. While it can feel challenging to find meaningful and supportive relationships, ultimately, our goal should be to build or belong to a tribe that lifts us up and embraces our interests and goals. 


How did you find your tribe? Comment below and let us know! 


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