How to Build a Conscious Community
01 Nov, 2015
Throughout the years I’ve lived without community, in communities that functioned seamlessly, with old friends and friends that were new on meeting, I lived in communities of thousands that popped up for a week then disbanded. I’ve lived in communities in different countries, in groups that tried to create community, I’ve spearheaded them and shut them down. I’ve dabbled in communities online and recognize them to play a large part in my overall well-being. It’s time to talk about what I’ve learned over the years.
For communities to flourish third spaces are necessary. We need spaces to rest, to work and to gather. That’s the balance.
A community that works, lives and plays together might be awesome for awhile but unless you have people who are unshakable in their self-care and dedicated to healing their past hurts, it can get messy.
It’s the third spaces where magic happens and ideally those spaces are available 24–7 which makes planning for connection obsolete.
The most important thing I’ve learned in maintaining the harmony of a group is to decide on a peaceful model to resolve conflict. We’re too blissfully different to expect conflict to never come up so having a mutually decided upon model to resolve upsets, arguments or misunderstandings can be huge in maintaining the peace and trust within any group.
There’s one that I love. It was introduced to me by my mentor and comes originally from Paul and Layne Cutwrite. It’s definitely gotten me out of some sticky situations and it goes a little something like this:
When we experience an upset, it’s important to remember we’re not upset at the thing we think we are. We’re not upset at the present moment situation.
What’s happening in the moment reminds us too closely of an unhealed pain from the past. Feeling conflicted in a situation is an opportunity to look inside and heal ourselves. This is a powerful wake up call when gently presented to someone in pain. Hurt people, hurt people and recognizing the situation closely reminds you (or another) of an unhealed hurt is the first step in reducing the violence in our worlds.
Thinking someone meant something other than what they intended can be a source of pain for most people.
We get a story in our minds and run with it without questioning whether that story is true or not. Maintaining flexibility in the stories you tell yourself about a person or situation is bound to reduce the frequency of upsets we experience. To make sure both parties are understood it helps to ask:
“I’m interpreting what I hear you say as…. is this what you mean?”
“I think I hear you say…”
“Making sure we’re on the same page is important to me, would you be willing to tell me what
When human beings get scared we have a tendency to slip into control.
This is absolutely going to undermine the trust and security in any interaction but we do it anyways. Make an agreement to look at situations where behavior exhibits control and look deeper to see what it was you were afraid of.
Many of us have forgotten that all humans are innocent, that we’re each are doing the best we possibly choose with the tools and information we currently have. That includes ourselves.
We’re often innocent of what others accuse us of and in turn, others are often innocent of what we accuse them. Truth is that we were born innocent and that innocence is within us still. While at the same time we can accept responsibility of our inner choices and feelings. We have the choice to create all our relationships consciously out of honesty and integrity and take the necessary steps to do so.
Talk. While it might sound cliche and simple, too often we stifle connection by not sharing our experiences, feelings or our preferences.
There are a myriad of reasons why we inhibit our own ability to connect to another but it comes back to a fear of showing our true faces. If we take off all those masks we wear for our self-preservation will we be loved and accepted?
It takes courage and heart to talk openly about the things you’re scared of, the things you love and the things you notice. But vulnerability is the biggest indicator of courage and unless you take that first, scary step you’ll never know how loved and accepted you are for exactly where and how you are.
So talk about what motivates people! Where are they going in their lives? How do they see themselves contributing? What do they need to feel safe and to trust? What do they need to feel loved, supported and accepted? Where are they struggling in their lives right now and what do they need to ease that discomfort?
By knowing how to handle a conflict when it comes up and keeping lines of communication open you’ll find that group interactions get easier and integrating into new spaces is smoother.
Growing up we were often educated in math, science and history but I’ve never met anyone who was schooled to communicate peacefully with heart so be gentle on yourself as you learn, the journey is about progress not perfection.
If you want to learn more about building unbreakable communities you can check out The 6 Pillars of Building Badass Community here.