‘You can’t sit with us.’ How squads and cliques show up in adulthood

Girl standing on her own while others are behind her

Even though I love the movie Mean Girls, it does reveal some uncomfortable truths about the way we exclude others socially. I also adore Taylor Swift, but her penchant for assembling beautiful people in the form of a ‘squad’ takes me right back to the misery of teenage cliques.
There’s an interesting study out of the US that shines a light on how being excluded affects us on a deep level.

Researchers at Ohio State University got 5000 participants to play a computer game in which they were told to only ‘pass the ball’ to certain people. The players who were excluded ended up with elevated blood pressure and stress hormones. The isolation effect also triggered the part of their brains that processes pain – so being excluded literally causes people pain.
I’m no scientist, but I’d imagine those effects happen because our body recognises the danger of being cast out of the pack. In evolutionary terms, our very survival depended on being part of a tribe so we weren’t attacked by wild animals nor left to fend for food on our own.
There are emotional effects too, obviously. The researchers concluded that when we are ostracised, our self-esteem plummets (boo!). We lose a sense of belonging, which, they noted, is extremely important to emotional well-being. 
I’ve noticed the rise of the hashtags #squad and #squadgoals on social media, and this trend bothers me because it smacks of elitism. That underlying exclusivity really raises my hackles. What you are saying – and this is only my opinion – when you describe a group of people as a ‘squad’ instead of simply ‘friends’ is, essentially we’re a club – you do not belong. You can’t sit with us.
Woolly mammoth illustration
I wrote recently about how a desire to fit in with the tribe sometimes shows up for me (click here for that post). The fear of being excluded is still real, well beyond my high school years. But perhaps that’s because I've always felt like an outsider.
A few years ago I was absolutely devastated when I logged onto Facebook and saw photos of my (now former) best friend’s baby shower – an event I had known nothing about. All of our friends had been invited. To be fair, we had been drifting apart for some time, and I am not particularly maternal so I’m not an ideal baby shower guest. Still, the fact that everyone else in our circle had been included, and I had not, was excruciating. The sting of being excluded by a group of people I had cared about made me burn with shame.
I would like to think that as I become more comfortable with being myself I will become less concerned with how other people perceive me, and consequently how they might treat me – i.e. by exclusion or acceptance. I’m aware that as a highly sensitive, introverted person who works in the spiritual realm, I am even less likely to fit into the mainstream now than I was in high school.
If no one wants to sit with me, because they perceive themselves as better than me or just because they don’t like me, I need to learn to be fine with that.

I’m fairly confident that being excluded does not mean I’m in danger of being trampled by a mammoth. 

All about that base! How your attitudes to money and your parents affect your emotional health

People standing on stacks of coins

I’ve started a series to explain how each chakra (or energy centre) in the body works, and what happens to your health and wellbeing when they're blocked. If you’ve done yoga, meditation, reiki, kinesiology or acupuncture, you’ll likely have heard a bit about chakras, and having a bit of extra knowledge about their function can really help you identify where you might be hitting emotional blocks in your life. 

Chakras are located in the energy field just outside your physical body and are the avenues through which your life force (chi, prana etc) flows. Or not, as the case may be ;)

For this first entry, I’ll look at the base chakra, known to some as the root chakra. It’s concerned with our material needs (money, food and shelter), our family, our safety and our connection with our bodies. So people who have an imbalance of energy in this chakra might struggle attracting and keeping money, could be materialistic and struggle to sit still (i.e. are unable to stay grounded).

This chakra is located near the base of your spine and because  it is the first energy centre in the body to develop (up until one year of age), it is heavily influenced by your parents. People who had one or both parents absent in their lives, or whose parents had a volatile relationship, often end up with a base chakra imbalance because that affected how they shaped their concepts of belonging and safety. 

This chakra is also influenced by your parents’ attitudes. If your parents constantly complained about a lack of money you may grow up to be overly fearful about ending up in poverty – or even resigned to it as a fait accompli (the attitude of ‘people like us will never have enough money’). Equally, if your mother was constantly worried about all the myriad things that could go wrong in the world, you may have absorbed that energy in the base chakra (because it’s all about safety).

Just to make it clear, this doesn’t mean that your parents are responsible for your lot in life. Even though you may have taken on their beliefs or been influenced by your upbringing on an unconscious level, you’re not destined to follow your parents’ example – you determine your own path. Your choices are your own. However if a belief has taken hold at a young age it may have created an energy block without your awareness, and some chakra-specific meditations or energy healing (reiki, kinesiology, NSA, etc) will help you shift it.

Base chakra symbol

(Image: the base chakra symbol)

The base chakra is also associated with belonging and how you fit in to the world. If you are not at peace with where you came from – particularly if you are disconnected from your ancestry or ethnic make-up in ways that make you feel lost – that will manifest in the base chakra.

People who have a deficient energy flow in the base chakra often have some of these characteristics:

·        Poor attention span

·        Difficulty sitting still  (the overachiever, who never feels like they have enough or are enough)

·        Refusal to listen to their body (particularly in messages about nutrition and rest)

·        Exaggerated fears about their safety

·        Chronically disorganised lives

·        Lack of boundaries

·        Perennial financial struggles (they can never ‘catch a break’; whenever they come into money they lose it somehow)

Some of the qualities of people who have excessive energy in the base chakra include:

·        Hoarding

·        Obese

·        Obsessed with material items, and constantly upgrading cars, electronic gadgets (FYI there is nothing wrong with enjoying objects, but attaching your value to your material possessions is problematic)

·        Fearful of change

·        Rigid ideas about how the world SHOULD be

·        Constantly constipated (ie they can’t let go!)

Physically, base chakra imbalances show up in the intestines, legs and feet, bones and teeth – although, of course, if you have issues in these areas that doesn’t *necessarily* mean you have a base chakra imbalance.

To rebalance your base chakra, here are some ways you can ground yourself and find balance:

·        Spending lots of time in nature

·        Learning how to be still regularly (meditation and yoga are helpful)

·        Addressing your attitudes towards money – remember that it’s OK to ask the Universe for more money, but the pursuit of it as a means to happiness is flawed

·        Practising acceptance and learning to let go

·        Using regular affirmations to assure your subconscious that you are safe, you have everything you need, you belong and you are enough.

So there it is – all about that base. I’ll give you a rundown on the other six chakras over the coming weeks.