I have often said that your community equals immunity. And it’s true. Just take the Roseto effect (more on that in a second). It’s no secret that all humans thrive on real connection, acceptance, and intimacy. Our bodies are profoundly affected by our interactions with those closest to us—our tribes. We are herd creatures, and with few exceptions, we do best, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, when we are part of a tribe that values us.
There are hundreds of studies that show when people have satisfying relationships they are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer. Some of these studies focus on short-term health benefits, such as fewer colds and flu. Other studies have looked at longevity showing that the quality of your relationships can lead to a longer life. For example, one study found that midlife women who were in highly satisfying relationships (including marriage) had a lower risk for cardiovascular disease compared with those in less satisfying relationships. Even more studies have found that people who are ill have better survival rates when they have social support. This is why there are so many support groups for people with cancer and other chronic illnesses.
Social connections that give you pleasure can influence your long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as other health-supporting habits, such as getting enough quality sleep, eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables, and not eating sugar or drinking alcohol in excess. One reason for this may be, as some research suggests, that feeling valued and supported in your relationships triggers the release of stress-reducing hormones.
What is the Roseto Effect?
The Roseto Effect was discovered during a 50-year, longitudinal study of Roseto, Pennsylvania, a town settled by Italian immigrants, which showed that that being part of a community where elders are revered and people are nurtured by others leads to a significantly lower incidence of heart disease and other and stress-related diseases. Despite reported habits of smoking, drinking, eating fried foods, and contact with toxins and other occupational hazards related to mining, when compared to neighboring towns, Rosetans had half the incidence of disease. This was despite being similar in all other ways, including having the same water supply, income level, and occupational and race mixes. What the neighboring towns did not have were valued connections among community members.
This phenomenon became known as The “Roseto Effect.”
It is very common today in our society for social ties and commitments to end up pretty far down on our “to do” lists. This may be because more people are realizing that the Roseto Effect is not apparent in their life. They are part of a tribe that does not support them — whether it’s their biological family, work colleagues, or neighbors — and they simply don’t want to make the time to socialize unless absolutely necessary. Yet, so many people would rather “just go along” with their tribe than cut ties and find themselves without one.
The fact is, living without a nurturing social network can have many negative effects on your mental and physical health including:
- Increased risk for depression and anxiety
- Sleep changes (too much or too little)
- Weight loss or gain
- Substance abuse/addiction
In fact, the absence of support in social relationships has been shown to have the same negative health effects as drinking more than six alcoholic drinks per day or smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
In other words, loneliness is the new smoking! The same lack of social connection is also more harmful than not exercising or being obese!
How To Attract Your Community — Your Soul Tribe
Being part of a tribe that you feel doesn’t support you can be harmful to your health. That’s why its important to take the steps you need to create your own Roseto Effect by building your own social support network. We’ve all heard the saying “your vibe attracts your tribe.” It’s true! You simply have to be willing to listen to what your Soul is telling you and let go of the cultural programming that is limiting you.
Here’s how you can create the Roseto Effect in your life, and attract your Soul tribe:
- Release your cultural programming. Dr. Mario Martinez has documented the ways in which all tribes wound the members who step beyond the pale: betrayal, abandonment, and shaming. Ask yourself if you are able to be all of who you really are within your original tribe. If not, there has never been a time in history that is more conducive to finding your true Soul family.
- Set your intention. Ask yourself the following questions when seeking new social connections: “What am I interested in? What have I always wanted to know, see or experience?” Let your answers guide you. One word of caution: As you seek out your Soul tribe, be sure to avoid the urge to bond solely based on a shared wound, such as incest, the loss of a child, or disease, because too often the wound becomes the only reason for the existence of the group. And, once you evolve to the point where you want to bring more joy and light into the group, you may find yourself shunned yet again.
- Open yourself up to new ideas. Start with yourself and do the inner work necessary to create a more supportive tribe. Many people are between two worlds here. They know that their old life doesn’t work, but they haven’t quite established the new one yet. Engage in some activity that helps you identify your needs and manifest your Soul tribe. It may help to meditate, pray, keep a journal or say affirmations. You may also want to create a home altar and fill it with objects that call your tribe to you. As you go through these exercises continue to release any limiting beliefs by writing them on pieces of paper and burning them or tossing them away.
- Reach out online. The Internet has given us endless ways to meet people. Relationship coach Diana Kirschner, who wrote Love in 90 Days, points out more people are finding love at all ages than ever before because of online dating and social media. The same is true for finding your Soul tribe. Social media is a great place to call your Soul tribe to you. Facebook groups can be a wonderful place to start and maintain relationships. Or start a blog and name the type of members you want to attract. Remember, when using social media you may also find that you need to “unfriend” some people.
- Practice stepping out. This takes courage. Almost all of us remember sitting alone in the middle school cafeteria. You can get stuck here if you aren’t willing to try something new on your own. Volunteer in your community, take an art class, or find a spiritual community that feels authentic to you. Just get out and about and you will immediately start to feel more connected. When you meet people you mesh with, invite them to be part of your tribe.
- Let go of your ego. Sometimes we let our sense of being “different” or “special” get in the way of belonging. The ego is good at protecting us, but don’t let it create a story of separation that distances you from the relationships you crave. Years ago, when I was reinventing myself after my divorce, I believed that my “real tribe” was somewhere else. The more I released my old tribal programming about what I’m “supposed” to do, say, and think, the more my true tribe has assembled.
Remember that which you seek is also seeking you. Finding your Soul family is a process, but it’s so worth it in the end!
How have you created the Roseto Effect in your life and found your Soul tribe? Please share your stories in the comment section below.