As you start your journey towards rebirth and a life of sobriety there are many things on your plate that take up lots of time and energy. At this point, the last thing you want to hear is that you also need to start focusing on the community around you.
Unfortunately, it is vital for you to think about your community, especially during the current pandemic. Fortunately, working on how you interact with your community takes relatively minimal effort and ends up helping you with your new journey in the long run.
While rekindling friendships and relationships with loved ones is a demanding and taxing project, interacting in a positive way with your community takes very small surface-level changes. These seemingly unimportant changes not only will help those around you but will help you climb boost your own self-esteem and find your new place in the world.
What is Community
Community is a term that is used heavily but not often thought about or defined. Technically community is a group of people living in the same place or a group of people who share a particular characteristic.
Because we live in Salt Lake City the community you relate to can end up being a Venn Diagram of these two ideas. The city is a little too large for you to consider every shop owner and resident, but within the city, there is likely a group of people you have bonded with over a shared love of an activity, sport, or hobby.
Take the overlap of the people you share a passion with and the people who live or work near you and focus on them while you attempt to engage with your community on a higher level.
How To Engage with Community
Now that we have discussed a manageable group of people to start considering as your community, how can you engage with them in a way that makes the whole group, including yourself, better off?
- Be A Good Neighbor
This one is both the easiest and the most important. In order to start being a better neighbor, all you need to do is start being cheerful and polite in your interactions. Leave your feelings at the curb and put a smile on before you interact with cashiers, neighbors, or postal workers.
A smile and a friendly hello can sometimes make a person’s day with very little effort from you. As you start to do this more and more you will garner a reputation of being friendly and approachable, which boosts your community as a whole.
As you get to know those people in your community a little better you can also start doing small tasks for neighbors who need it. Shoveling an elderly neighbors driveway, taking misdelivered mail to a front porch, or dropping off a gift basket are all things that will take your community engagement level up a notch with minimal effort.
- Support Local Businesses
Supporting a local business has really come into the public eye with the current pandemic and for good reason. People’s favorite restaurants, barbershops, and coffee shops are all struggling to get through these tough times and by simply choosing them over further away locations or national chains you can make a big difference.
This difference may seem small to you but local business owners will remember who helped them when they needed support and that will own serve to boost your relationship with those around you.
- Get Involved
Getting directly involved with your community is by far the most difficult and time-consuming way to engage with your community. As such, it is a great final goal to work forward to after months or even years of building up your engagement.
Getting involved looks different for everyone. Some people find a nonprofit that falls smack dab in the middle of their Venn diagram, while others decide to go the local government route. Whatever you end up choosing will not go unnoticed. You will now be spending your valuable time with respected and well-known community members.
Benefits of Community
While community is often talked about in regards to the people around you, it is still important and not overly selfish to think about how being involved with the community helps you.
When embarking on a life of sobriety the people around you all can serve as a different support system. Your biggest and most personal issues can be discussed with a professional support group and trustworthy family members or friends.
While you won’t go to your neighbor up the street or the barista at your favorite coffee shop with your darkest secrets you can use your relationship with them to bring small bits of happiness into your life. These small bursts of happiness and positivity will go a long way in limiting the pressure you put on your support groups by providing additional reassurance that you are on the right track.
- Self Belief
When reintegrating into the world it can be hard to maintain a positive outlook on life due to the drastic changes you have made. Small interactions and feeling like you have a place in your immediate community will help you remain assured that you have a place in this world and that people care about you.
- Finding new Relationships
As we have discussed in previous posts, it can be challenging to making new friends while reintegrating into society. Your surrounding community provides an exceptional place to meet new people and potentially form substantial relationships.
Places like coffee shops, small local restaurants, and even grocery stores can end up being a great place to meet people. Being a known member of your community only increases your chances of meeting someone who has things in common with you.
Importance of Community
Often people find themselves too busy or feel too important to become a contributing member of their local community. But as we discussed above it takes relatively minimal effort to become a relevant and respected member of your chosen community.
The nice thing about joining the community is that you can start with just being friendly to those around you and immediately feel the burdens of rejoining the world start to drift away. Small interactions then lead to larger community involvement which, in turn, helps you boost your self-esteem, enhance your personal happiness, and potentially even find new relationships.