RELATIONSHIPS THAT MATTER | How to Build Communities that Feed Us
We don’t want to face that we need each other as much as a child needs its parents.
(paraphrased from “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person” by Alan de Botton)
I reflected on this statement in light of my one year anniversary with my partner. And while this man means more to me than anyone, the fact that I need him—or anyone for that matter—fills me with a combination of gratitude and fear.
Being a soul-centered entrepreneur means I’ve committed to making profound connections with other human beings as a way of life. I have no doubt that this is my greatest joy. Yet, building these types of connections in such a disconnected world triggers the fear of disappointment, rejection, and abandonment in so many of us, including me.
I’ve come to realize that to heal our fear and feel the joy of true connection, we need to learn how to build community.
Below are the ways I’ve learned to build community as a soul-centered entrepreneur. They keep me focused on the well-being of those I love and serve, as well as myself. These tips can help you not only develop the connections that feed you—they also help you sustain these relationships.
Bringing together multiple generations for the cause of authentic, loving self-expression is my favorite thing. I adore this shot of wellness entrepreneur Gloria Rogers and I with my photographer's daughter, Acelyn.
1) Decide who, what, when, where, why, and how you want to serve.
Set aside whatever time you have available to journal on each of these six components, not necessarily at the same time. Either before or after this step, do a vision board (see image below if you're new to or skeptical about this step). Then, meditate on the words and imagery both the written and visual processes evoke. Finally, discuss your responses with those you trust and refine them until you feel clear on your answers.
I once dismissed vision boards as "woo woo bullsh**."
My friend and client Selina Schuh turned me on to vision boards two years ago. She told me to focus on how I wanted to feel in life, and then to find images that resonated with those emotions. It can definitely be valuable to put concrete images of goals down—i.e. a plane ticket to Europe, a check with $100K, the name of the foundation we want to be a part of, etc... But ultimately, what we're going for is a visual representation of the state of being we want to experience.
Most of my initial images were of passionate lovers and soul-centered entrepreneurs joining together in a strong community, plus vibrant-looking women I wanted to emulate. And I've definitely been feeling every bit of the passion and vitality of all of these aspects in my life.
2) Determine what support you want and who would be the right people to give it to you.
Remember, we need people. To figure out what support you want, identify where in your life and being that you’re feeling underfed, as well as where you want to amplify what’s already going well. Seek out people you already know and trust, ask for referrals, and explore social media and Meetup groups until you find the right support.
3) Set and evolve your boundaries.
We give and receive support best when we clearly agree on what we want to give and receive in our relationships with others, adjusting as needed. If you’re starting a spiritual group, for instance, then create, display, and enforce a set of non-negotiable agreements from the start. If you’re launching or developing a new partnership, state your wants and needs even when you struggle to do so, and encourage the other person to do the same.
4) Plan. Commit. Repeat.
Building community takes patience and discipline. Prioritize time to connect based on your availability, both in time and energy. If you tend to over-commit, consider scheduling a phone call or virtual meeting with a new contact for a set period of time, as opposed to a dinner date. If you have more bandwidth, meet in person at a place that’s conducive to great conversation—like a quiet café that neither of you has tried.
These four guidelines can help you embrace authentic connection and community in a way that works for you. If they feel overwhelming, consider starting with the one that resonates the most and gradually working up to two or more when you’re ready. Keep in mind that building community in spite of our very human fears of disappointment, rejection, and abandonment is a difficult yet soul-filling thing.
Recognize any resistance you feel as you deepen your connections, seek the support you need to work through it—and keep re-focusing on your intention to build community.
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