Forming Communities: Trauma Bonding & Connecting Through Confusion

My old manager used to call it ‘bonding through bitching’. Reading the book ‘Outliers’ many years ago, there was a study that looked into the fact that people in an Italian community in the USA who lived much longer than everyone around them (comparable to different regions). Looking at diet, exercise regime and several other factors, it came down to the sense of community that was there and what this connection looked like that lead to their longevity in life. Bonding can happen in so many ways and it’s worth us exploring as humans in order to know how we are building and working on our relationships – in all areas of our lives.

You see, we’re built for connection. Lockdown has hopefully taught us more than anything else. We need other humans and there are many ways in which we can and do connect with each other. Sports, nights out, work and travel are just some ways we start and build relationships with people. This allows us to build and understand our own ways to connect and how we set our intentions. Identifying healthy ways of bonding is an important factor that can impact how our relationships develop and how we move forward with strengthening them while keeping ourselves in tact.

Some ways to identify how you’re connecting through healthy means involves assessing a number of factors. What are the subjects talked about and how are they coming across in the conversation? Is it positive, negative or real? Are you talking about other people, problems out of your business, gossip or negativity in the background? Pay attention to the topics.

How do you feel in particular interactions? Our energy doesn’t lie. If we’re in an interaction and it lowers our energy, this can mean we don’t vibe with that person, situation or topic of conversation (or all of the above). Listen to your body – during and after an interaction and determine if it lowers or increases your vibe.

How is your energy beforehand? Recently, I’ve attended social engagements even though my energy told me not to. Pushing ourselves into a social interaction when we’re not feeling it can affect our ability to build or engage with a relationship at that time and thereafter. It’s okay to say no to protect a boundary. Do it later when you’re at your best in terms of energy.

Are your values resonating with those you’re interacting with? Our circles are significant and indeed, we don’t need to have the exact same values as each person in our circles. I’m an advocate of a close inner circle with transparency as to what this part of our lives looks like. We become like the five people we spend the most time with in our lives. Remember this as you choose and interact with your circle.

Regularly, I research and work to understand psychological safety. As a team manager, this has been a focus over the past 7 years. This is something we feel – it can’t be faked by talking about it. Knowing how you are feeling in specific environments is key to your own development and interactions.

Recognising how we’re interacting with others and with what focus can help guide us to better connection. Share your thoughts below :).