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Tribal Mainstream and Self-Sabotage

24. november 2011

Have you ever noticed that all your good intentions about eating only healthy and natural foods tend to walk out the door just as you walk into your parent’s or other family member’s home? Or how insanely hard it is to not eat the junk food your sweetheart puts on the table in front of you? We are used to thinking of this as a lack of willpower, but the good (and bad) news is that it might be more to it than that. It actually might be one of our primal instincts taking over the show, and causing us to self-sabotage at that crucial moment.

Once upon a time, we lived in small tribes. We hunted together, we ate together, and we supported each other in every aspect of our lives. In fact, we’d be in a lot of trouble if we were cast out, as it was almost impossible to survive alone. It would be hard to hunt, if completely alone and no-one to cooperate with. It would be dangerous to even sleep, as there would be no-one to watch out for predators. A tribeless human being would be a lost human being, and very likely a dead one in a matter of days. And so we developed an instinct that would ensure our survival by keeping us close to the tribe, making it feel urgent to fit in and be a part of the people in it. This is what I call the mainstream instinct, and it is still very present in our society. Sometimes it’s useful, but sometimes it can be working against us.

We no longer need a pack of hunters to get our foods, and we don’t need someone to watch for predators either – we have modern solutions for that. But we still have that instinct to belong, some of us more than others. That means doing what the others in our tribe does – and that is great if your tribe is healthy and positive. If not, this might be the reason why you feel stuck and never get what you want out of life.

This instinct is, sadly enough, stronger than the instinct to eat proper foods or to do other vitally important things to take care of our selves. This is how bad patterns keep developing and get inherited down the generations. And this is why drug addicts on rehab are encouraged to burn all bridges, delete all phone numbers and start over – they need to get out of their toxic tribe to save their lives.

If your family or friends are stuck in a negative tribal mainstream pattern, they will most likely keep you stuck there too. There is nothing quite as terrifying as the threat of being alone, and your mind thinks it actually would be better for you to be unhealthy, obese, poor or any other bad thing you can think of, as long as you’ll be where the rest of your tribe is at. If and when you reach that collective upper limit of what the tribe spirit will allow, your old instinctual fear of being cast out will kick in… and you will self-sabotage, just to get back on a safe level again.

There is no way you can truly excel in a bad tribal environment. You can only get to the top of where you are, you can never quite soar above it. One little pinkie toe will always rely on your tribal foundation. This is where your root chakra comes in, if you like to think of it in those terms. This is where you draw your energy from. This is what nurtures you.

In our day and age, we actually belong to several tribes at the same time. You may have one (or more) friend tribe, one family tribe and one work tribe, all with different dynamics. Not all of them have the same impact on you, and one may be more important than the others. Some may be really good for you, and some may actually be detrimental to your health. The good news is: you get to choose which tribes you belong to, and which tribes you only visit occasionally.

If you want to get to a higher point of health, prosperity and well-being, you need to be in a tribe that concurs with what you want to become. Want to be healthy? Then find healthier friends to be with. Want to get out of poverty consciousness? Find friends that are just a few levels above you. This will keep you from self-sabotaging to fit in, and will actually make you aim a bit higher.

If you are in an unhealthy tribe you cannot leave, there are two things you can do.

Firstly, you need to have a look at the tribal mainstream pattern and become aware of what that actually looks like. If everybody is unhealthy, you will know that there’s a real danger of you staying unhealthy too. Then you need to find out to what extent your instinct kicks in and how you respond to that pattern. What is your tribal instinct saying? Do you want that potato chips so badly that you would actually go and buy it yourself? Or do you want to eat it because that’s what your tribe does at the moment? Those are two very different things, and it gets easier to break the pattern if you know what it is.

Secondly, you can make sure you get to the top of the tribe – be the best you can be in that environment. Every tribe needs a leader, and who says it can’t be you and that you can’t raise the bar a bit higher? All it takes for a tribal pattern to break, is that one of the members does something differently. You can be the one.

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  1. Thanks, this is a great explanation. I’d like to add that you can create new tribes, by starting a group around one of your aims/interests. Something I’m finding very helpful at the moment!

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