Your Relationship to the Group

This is part 4 in a 7-part post.

In everyone’s stories of their experiences, I also hear people describe their relationship to the group.  A young man from Germany captured what many have shared, “When the vibrancy in the group is low, I just want to be told what to do.  It is clear that none of me is needed, other than what I can do right then.  It is very frustrating.  I am in a box, somebody has a whip, and I am submissive to the task at hand.  When I experience high vibrancy in a group, we are all looking for the unique contributions our creativity can make to the group.  It’s like the harmonic we create when we each sing our piece.  Together we are able to take on anything.”  You often experience your relationship to the “we” as one of “just tell me what to do.”  This is an experience many of us have at work and in communities where we have no voice.  In this relationship, you are clear that you make no unique contribution, as a matter of fact, many people could easily replace you in your job.  If someone else lived in your house, the community would never know.  If you stopped playing in the bowling league, nothing would change.  This is the experience of the individual at the top-left in the figure below.



You also have the experience of feeling like you can stand tall, as a contributing member of the group, where your skills are needed for the group to be able to succeed, as it competes with others.  Your group is able to stand up to “them,” whoever the opposition is.  You experience your contribution as clear in this group, and the group is clear that it is stronger because you are bringing your abilities.  This is the cooperative competition of us versus them, as seen in the middle group in the figure below.[1]

You have also had the occasional experience of a group where the relationship was one of deep collaboration.  Sometimes this is experienced as “being in the groove,” where the ensemble really melds and a much greater possibility emerges for the group.  This is the experience of “united we can,” when a people come together to achieve outcomes that they previously thought were impossible.  These are moments of greatness, often experienced on sports teams, in transformational family moments, or when a country comes together to face an extraordinary hardship.  This is the experience of the united group at the bottom-right of the figure below.

Your relationship to the group is how you experience the “we.”   The “we” is another interesting experience, which is completely different than the “I” that only you can experience for yourself or the “you” that I experience with you.  The collectively experienced we-ness is the experience we have of “our” family, which in my case is the Ritchie-Dunhams.  The experience of “family” is different than that of me as an individual member of the family.  I am both Jim (the “I”) and Ritchie-Dunham (the “we”).

You have experienced your relationship to the group along this continuum, from the subsuming experience of low vibrancy to the uniting experience of high vibrancy.  As you experience greater harmonic vibrancy along this continuum, what is present at the lower levels of vibrancy is also available at higher levels, along with new dimensions.  In the first experience, of low vibrancy, you are a “doer” – just tell me what to do.  In the second experience, of medium vibrancy, you are a contributor, both able to do, as before, and to bring greater gifts, talents, and abilities to the group.  In the third experience, of high vibrancy, you are a doer, a contributor, and full of great potential, all at the same time.  Thus, in the higher levels of vibrancy, you have access to more – you can make a larger contribution to the group.[2]

Once again we return to seeing that the level of harmonic vibrancy experienced in your relationship to the group is an agreement.  That you experience higher or lower levels in different groups is not a fact of nature.  It is not physics, rather an agreement about your relationship to the group.  You choose and accept that relationship, which makes it an agreement.  Thus, you can make an agreement for a different relationship to the group.

In all of the stories people have shared with me about their relationship to groups, such as their immediate and extended family, their community, where they work, where they commute, or where they hang out with friends, they tell stories of experiencing a greater energy while being with them that stays afterwards and experiences of being exhausted when they leave them.   The exhausting groups bore us, increase our fatigue, and always ask too much of us.  Yet another endless meeting?  Another group where my contribution is underappreciated?  You have to medicate yourself after being with them, by thinking about something else, being with other people, drinking, watching television – somehow you have to disconnect from them and connect to something else.  The energizing groups make you feel even better after being with them than when you started.  Even if you built a house together, went for a run, designed a whole new project, delivered an intense workshop, no matter how many hours and how much effort it took, you feel invigorated afterwards.  You made a contribution, which the group engaged with, and it felt great.  You are a better person because you were with them today.

The framework now includes relationships to the self, other, and group.  This is the traditional set of me, you, us.  At first this seemed complete to me.  However, I found that the stories people shared added some other dimensions.  I continued the inquiry.  “It seems that there is a huge difference in the experience of the low and high vibrancy groups.”  Everyone responded that there definitely was, with scarcity everywhere in the low-vibrancy experience and abundance everywhere in the high-vibrancy experience.  When I pry a little, asking, “Why is there scarcity in one group and abundance in another?,” people respond with something like, “There just is.  Right?”  “Why?,” I ask.  This is when we hit another huge insight.  A senior teacher characterized the typical response I get, “Because that’s what we agree to.”  She went on to describe that in the low vibrancy group, everyone shows up knowing that this is just the way it is.  “Somehow I just agree that it is okay to be that way.  We all do.  In the high vibrancy group, we agree to be more abundant.  In fact, sometimes it is the same people in the different groups.  We just agree to be different in different groups.  Doesn’t seem that we see that though.”

My request to you

Please reply in these pages to share your own experiences, thoughts on what I share, or questions that arise.  I invite you as a citizen scientist to participate in the naming of the emerging field, which I refer to as ecosynomics, and in realizing the higher harmonic vibrancy available to all of us.

[1] A very enlightening description of cooperative competition, Co-opetition provides many examples of this practice and its benefits, from intersections with four gas stations to restaurants all piled up in the same location (Brandenburger & Nalebuff, 1998).

[2] The relationship that we have to the group explores one’s social expression of group intention, that to which we give of our group will and cannot achieve on our own.  This is a group form of light flow, which requires a group to manifest.  The inner experience of this relationship to the group manifests as one’s own group higher purpose, the superordinate essence to which we relate the contributions we want to make – one’s relationship with self-in-group – how I relate to the group.  The self’s group expression is physically observable in one’s gut, one’s will, that which one serves.   Culturally, the group supports and embraces the individual in exploring the gifts they contribute to the needs of the group.  Our experience of the group nature of light-Spirit is one of interdependence, which in the old French is solidaire.  This culture of interdependence is supported by social structures and processes focused on the integration of interests, purpose, or sympathies among members of a group; a fellowship of responsibilities and interests, such as collaborations, co-operatives, and the primary focus politically of collectivists.

11 thoughts on “Your Relationship to the Group

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