Support groups have been transformative for my adult life, both personally and professionally.
Monthly masterminds, weekly men’s groups, spiritual communities, quarterly networking clubs, these social networks have helped me grow and connect in powerful ways.
What’s more, they’ve helped me contribute to the growth of others. As the saying goes, sometimes you need the group, sometimes the group needs you.
But something I’ve noticed along the way is, not all support groups are created equally. Sometimes the group fails to support people and help them move forward. Sometimes the group is run by a controlling leader or dominated by a few members who love to hear themselves talk, but aren’t considerate of other people’s needs.
Kenny comes to mind, a guy who attended my men’s group every week for a year. He rarely spoke or showed emotion, never demonstrated any progress in his life, made zero effort to connect with other members, and often complained that he’d rather spend his only free night of the week going to a concert to get away from his wife and kid.
Dude, why are you even here? Never made sense to me.
Point being, as meaningful as something like support communities can be, it’s important to notice when it’s reached the point of diminishing returns.
Because many of our social endeavors outlive their usefulness. And that’s okay. Everything has a lifecycle.
The best litmus test is to gauge how you feel the moment you walk out the door, as compared to the goal of the meeting. Here a several scenarios to consider.
The goal is to walk away feeling less alone in your suffering, not feeling resentful that ten strangers wasted your time whining about how their life sucks and their wives don’t understand them.
The goal is to walk away feeling supported and seen, not like you failed people’s little authenticity tests because by not sharing properly.
The goal is to walk away feeling more connected to a community of people that you’re thankful to belong to, not annoyed and disgusted by idiots that you wouldn’t voluntarily choose to spend time with otherwise.
The goal is to walk away with insights from others who get it, not feel more drained, depressed and confused by untrustworthy, unhelpful and unsolicited feedback.
The goal is to walk away cleansed and lighter, not feeling pissed that you spent three hours of your night sitting in a hot room for what that feels like an unpaid second job.
The goal is to walk away with new perspective and coping skills about your situation, not overwhelmed by sadness and feeling worse than before the group started.
The good news is, there’s no royalties for your loyalties. As a grown adult, you can leave the group anytime you wish, without explanation or justification.
You can simply be thankful for the opportunity, and move on with your life.
You might even discover that progress and healing doesn’t happen for you in a group setting, and that’s okay too.
There’s no wrong way to grow.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What community has outlived its usefulness in your life?