We’re not meant to do this alone. The journey is easier when we feel supported, so take the time to invest in the ‘tribe’ that supports you.
“How was your Christmas with the family this year?” I asked my friend a little while back.
“Oh, yeah. Not bad. We didn’t have any punch-ups this year, so that was good.”
No matter how much of a disaster Christmas has been, no matter how many times I’ve had to grit my teeth and smile through the same old stories, I’ve never had the holy day descend into a bar brawl.
The number of “punch ups” has never factored into my opinion of whether Christmas was a success or not.
It made me realise that the fact that I generally enjoy Christmas – that I actually look forward to catching up with the extended family – makes me one of the lucky ones.
There is this fierce primal power in families. They are a house to our earliest and most primal emotional selves. And when the bonds of blood are severed, like splitting the atom, all hell can break loose.
But for the same reason there can be a great constructive power in family as well. And for every high-profile family feud, there are stories of successful dynasties passing power down through multiple generations.
The world is a scary place. There’s no point pretending otherwise. We are fragile, soft (and in my case flabby) organisms. I don’t have a shell, claws or fangs. I don’t even have enough fur to keep away the cold (and the fur I have is increasingly in the wrong places.)
But what we lack in armour and weaponry we make up for with the three great human assets:
- A massive brain (most of us)
- Opposable thumbs (“How’s life Fonz?” “Aaaaaay. Still got thumbs.”)
- Strength in numbers.
We are a tribe species. Our evolutionary success has depended on our ability to get along together – to cooperate with and protect each other.
We instinctively reach out to others. We instinctively build networks of support. We instinctively protect the young and old. These aren’t learnt skills. They come naturally to us.
So if we become isolated from our tribe we start to feel, in those most primal parts of our brain, very naked and vulnerable.
So one of the most lamentable aspects of modern life is that we have been driven further and further into smaller and smaller units. Institutions of collective expression have been undermined and the individual is now the only entity that matters.
Loneliness has become an epidemic.
And with loneliness comes a deep, unshakable fear.
The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if this is some kind of evil Illuminati plot orchestrated by Wall Street and Fox Sports. Isolated and scared people are easier to manipulate – are less able to resist attacks on free speech, human rights, the community. And they make for more compliant and passive cogs in the global money machine.
But I think the truth is actually much more boring. We are victims of our own success.
This is the safest age in history. Your chances of being eaten by something are practically zero. The chances you’ll die a violent death are tiny. In some eras of human history, if you died of old age you were incredibly lucky.
But this age of safety has made our tribal muscle soft. We don’t feel such a strong drive to band together. And the bonds we do have feel more disposable.
If our relationships aren’t helping protect us from common dangers, we start to wonder what we’re getting out of them.
We start to wonder if the effort is worth it – why we’re putting up with these stupefying conversations, why we’re listening to the same old stories year after year, why we let those little monsters run all over the good couch.
Our view of relationships becomes more self-interested. “What am I getting out of this?”
But that deep part of our psyche that needs to belong – that needs to know that the tribe has their back – it doesn’t go away.
And so if we sacrifice our tribal connections to pursue our own unique path, a subtle insecurity starts eating away at us.
And we can try and bolster our defences with the sandbags of a stronger police state, gated communities, capital punishment for bread-theives etc, but it never quite scratches that itch.
Without a sense of belonging, we’ll always feel naked and vulnerable.
(You know I’m just making this up right? I don’t actually know how the mind works. At the end of the day these are just pretty ideas…)
So like all good things in life, ‘belonging’ is something you need to invest in. We need to put time and energy into our relationships – endure the occasional sacrifice, get involved in the occasional punch-up.
If we do, then we’ll enjoy a greater sense of safety – a deeper sense of peace. Then, if we’re feeling relaxed and easy, we’ll make much better decisions. Most importantly, we might actually be able to stop worrying and enjoy life a little more.
And all that’s before we even touch on the power of cooperation. At Knowledge Source, I know that the community of like-minded investors with a wealth of experience to draw on is every bit as valuable as the knowledge and skills we help deliver.
When you step out on the property journey, and when your friends are telling you you’re crazy, a community of like-minded people on the same path as you, with similar experiences and aspirations, is worth its weight in gold.
You need to know someone’s got your back.
So… have you called your mother lately?