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Healthy Living for Women

How to Build a Strong Tribe

Clean up your inner circle and create powerful relationships — in and out of the gym!

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

how to build a tribe

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” — Helen Keller

A tribe is defined most simply as a community linked by social, economic, religious or blood ties. Tribes in their earliest model relied on each other for almost every aspect of survival, socialization and, most important, connection.

Tribes look a little different these days. We choose our tribes, girl gangs and our confidants with whom we walk through life. Screen time does not equal connection. Even with technological advances, we all still have the same basic needs.

I’m not talking about money, fame, a number on a scale, a bigger house or a better car. True bliss begins and ends with our ability to connect with other people who share our dreams, morals and sense of integrity — face-to-face connection.

So how do you begin to form a rock-solid tribe in our modern world?

Get Clear on What You Will and Won’t Tolerate

Finding a community of people who you can trust and truly connect with does not happen overnight. Building new friendships is so similar to dating it’s not even funny. We have all been through bad friendships. Learn from those people. Listen to your intuition. If something doesn’t feel right about someone, it probably isn’t. Every single time I have ignored my instincts, I have been burned.

Don’t Make Yourself Less to Make Someone Else Feel Like They’re More

Your tribe should celebrate your accomplishments right along with you — that new car, hot man or bangin’ body. True friends will praise you for all that you are. They won’t make you feel less worthy about who you are or what you have in order to make themselves feel more accomplished, ever.

Stay Away From Gossip, the Fast Food of Conversation

Pay attention to the people in your life who participate in a heavy stream of gossip. I have been on both ends of this activity, and it is not a pretty place to be. Friends who have nothing to contribute to a conversation other than gossip are “friends” to be weary of. Positive, happy individuals do not talk about other people. And FYI, if they’re doing it front of you, they are more than likely doing it behind your back, too.

Not all gossip is bad gossip, but listen closely to what your friends are saying about other women. Ask yourself how you would feel if you were the subject of the conversation.

Avoid Black Clouds of Negativity

Friends who are constantly down on themselves and their situations should be kept at an arm’s length. Let me clarify: We all go through difficult times. Do not abandon your friends who are going through a dark season. I’m talking about friends who are toxic. They’re always negative, and after spending time with them, you feel less happy then beforehand. Nothing you say is good enough. You can offer no good advice.

Sometimes we hold onto friendships out of complacency and comfort. But friends like this do not promote personal growth. In fact, they are closer to a no-growth model. Maybe certain friends helped you through your own dark season or they have been in your life forever. You are worthy and deserving of positive people in your life. Those who are meant to be your friends will bring out the best in you.

Find the Truth Tellers

You don’t want a tribe telling you you’re doing a killer job if you’re not actually killing it. I cannot have enough of these people in my corner. I want my friends to be honest with me about my haircut, choice in men and financial decisions when I ask them. When you trust and confide in your tribe, honesty and support is priceless.

Say No

You will let people down. Real friends will understand. Ironically, deepening your closest relationships is rooted in your ability to say no. Your tribe will understand you are a mother, wife, daughter, working professional, yogi, vegan, etc. Setting clear boundaries is a practice in self-love. Your tribe will get it. Sometimes we need to say no to things when we wish we could say yes. Sometimes we must say no to things when we simply cannot say yes. Saying no when you need to will deepen the relationships that are meant to stay.