We, as humans, are hard-wired to establish connections with
others. We need to feel loved and cared
for. We need touch. We need contact. We need affection. We need to know we matter. We need these things or we experience what’s
known as “failure to thrive.” This is
found with babies, with adults, with old folks, and everyone in between.
In the 1950’s, a researcher named Harry Harlow conducted experiments on monkeys. He took some babies and gave them two options for monkey mommies. The first was soft and snuggly but provided no milk. The other was cold and metal and wire but DID have milk. He and the team suspected that the baby monkeys were going to be all about the wire monkey with the milk. After all, food keeps them alive and without it, a living being will perish. So seems logical, right?
Well, the team was surprised when their hypothesis did NOT hold true. Those little baby monkeys did NOT spend time on the wire monkey unless they were hungry and nursing. That’s it. That was the only time they hung out there. The rest of the time was spent snuggling with the soft mommy.
This experiment helps us understanding just how important contact is. These baby monkeys knew it. Babies of all species know it. Haven’t you ever held a new born that literally snuggles in just a little bit closer? Touch is essential for connection. And connection is essential for life.
We all need a tribe. We all need a support system. We all need a family. It doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be blood. It just has to be. Our tribe will likely move, shift, grow, shrink, and change over the course of our lives. We may reach a point where we decide that the tribe we have now is not the tribe we want in the future. And that’s ok. What’s important is that the tribe is there, the tribe is aligned with our goals, and the tribe is kind, loving, supportive, and (hopefully) shows unconditional positive regard.
I am frequently asked how to find a “tribe”. And quite frankly, the easiest way to find one is to first have an understanding of something that YOU love, something that YOU are passionate about. Common interests are super binding, but so are common enemies. Really, it’s just about commonality and that’s where the focus should be. Find people that are like-minded. Find people that share an interest. Find people that share a fear and/or worry.
Because of the internet (thank you modern technology), the opportunity to find and become part of a “group” is nearly endless. Meet-ups exist. Support groups exist. The ability to connect in real life (and not just virtually…that doesn’t really count in my opinion) exist.
Now that being said, nobody can make somebody get out there and join. Nobody can make someone connect and become a part of. Nope, not a thing. That is more about internal motivation but that’s a blog for a different day.
Interested in learning more about the Harlow Monkey Experiment? Follow this link here for more information and remember to subscribe with the form to the left in order to receive updates on future posts.