Social connection is one of our most important human needs. It’s in our DNA, just like our need for food and water.
Studies show that healthy relationships not only increase our self-esteem and our ability to cope in stressful situations, but they’re also a major protective factor against many mental and physical illnesses.
Experts advise that the key is to find deep and meaningful relationships, as too many shallow interactions can leave you feeling lonely and misunderstood.
But it’s not always easy to find people you truly connect with. It can take some self-reflection and vulnerability to form these fulfilling friendships and feel like you’ve found your tribe in life.
Here are our 5 tips to find your tribe and enjoy the benefits of these close human connections.
Get to know yourself
How can you surround yourself with likeminded people if you don’t know yourself?
It’s normal to be influenced by peers throughout adolescence and early adulthood. It can take some time – and intentional effort – to discover your own likes, dislikes, and opinions as you grow.
If your goal is to find people you deeply connect with, spend some time reflecting on who you are deep down. Identify your core values, your passions, and the kind of support you want from the people around you.
Counselling is a great way to support your journey to self-discovery. You can learn about our counselling service here.
Engage in your hobbies
Create opportunities to meet people who share your interests by engaging in hobbies and activities outside of the home.
Whether it’s active, creative, musical, or academic, there are endless social clubs, classes, and groups you can join.
These can create a comfortable environment to interact with new people as they can facilitate conversation around the task at hand, reducing the pressure to find topics for small talk.
Volunteer for a cause
Volunteering for a cause you care about is another great way to meet people you have things in common with.
The issues and causes we’re passionate about can be a strong foundation for a fulfilling friendship, and chances are you’ll find other things to bond over too.
This could be especially valuable if the cause, or humanitarianism in general, are a significant part of your identity.
Let go of shallow connections
Did you know that shallow relationships can make you feel lonely?
Experts have found that you don’t need to be alone to experience loneliness – it can arise from not feeling seen, understood, or validated in your friendships.
“It can come from spending time with people who don’t share your values or interests. It can also come from too many superficial interactions and not enough deeper connections,” explains Kasley Killam, a social scientist who specialises in social health, connection, and loneliness.
If this sounds familiar, it might be time to take a step back from surface-level friendships and focus your energy on the ones that are deep and fulfilling.
If you’re feeling disconnected and are struggling to engage with friends like you used to, you might find this blog post helpful: Why do I feel disconnected from everyone? | Relationships Australia QLD (raq.org.au)
Get comfortable opening up
If you crave deeper connections, it’s important to be vulnerable and willing to open up yourself.
Close friendships take an investment in emotion as well as time. If you want to connect with your friends beyond having a laugh together, it’s time to dig deeper and share some more personal details.
For example, you might like to ask their advice on a problem you’re having, or share your dreams and goals for the future.
Diving into these more intimate topics can build trust and deepen your bond.
If you need help strengthening your relationships or building the confidence to find new ones, our counsellors can help.
You can learn more about our counselling service here, or call 1300 364 277 to book an appointment.