Community is our destiny.
The need to join with others for support and fellowship resides at the cellular level, coded into our DNA. This is why, since the beginning of time, we have been coming together as friends, family, neighbors, political parties and religious groups.
The amount of work it takes to organize the logistics of a household, as well as care for the emotional needs of our family, can easily overwhelm even the strongest of women. Having a community of other mothers that we can share our experiences with is essential in healthily processing the frustrations and the burden that comes along with this work.
However, we must be thoughtful about the communities we build and how we participate in these communities. Haphazard participation will not bring about this benefit. Additionally, when communities get hijacked by our egos and built from shortcuts, the meaning is lost.
Here are three principles of healthy communities that can maximize our mental wellness:
The best communities are not necessarily the biggest ones. It can be easy to get sucked into a popularity contest, but what makes a community great is its ability to provide opportunities for meaningful interactions between members.
This is much more likely to happen in smaller communities. Look for communities in which the opportunities to have meaningful interactions are abundant.
Gossiping is appealing because it’s a cheap and easy way to connect in the moment. But once that momentary connection passes, we are left with nothing. It simply cannot sustain a relationship long-term because it undermines trust.
A community in which gossip is prevalent likely lacks the depth and meaning to support a real connection. Look for communities in which discussion sparks contemplation about big ideas and important topics.
One of the greatest gifts community has to offer is fulfilling an individual’s need for belonging. Communities that require conformity, changing to fit in, undermine this important human need. Look for groups that not only allow and accept you for who you are, but also value the most authentic version of yourself.
In modern motherhood, it can be hard to find the time for relationships outside of our immediate family. But community is not a mere luxury, and it’s even more than a priority.
When we are intentional about the communities we build and how we spend our time in them, we can maximize the goodness that community has to offer, making it the ultimate antidote to stress and overwhelm in motherhood.
Kelly Stanley has an M.A. degree in clinical psychology and is a certified professional life coach. She has been a psychology professor for 12 years and a mother for 13 years. Her coaching practice, Rising Up, provides mental wellness coaching to help moms deal with the mental load of motherhood. Follow her on Facebook at Rising Up Coach and on Instagram at RisingUpCoach.
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