On tribes

Good morning. I hope this finds you well. I paused writing for August and am now returning with autumnal feels. The summer always blends in smoothly into the next season here in the UK, and August somehow feels strange, hectic, all over the place. Compared to Poland, the UK weather is generally milder, with seasons not as pronounced and sharp edges as in my homeland, so I am used to this soft fluidity and shifts between rain and sun, wind and soft, calm air. Even with the clearly shifting weather patterns due to climate change, somehow, I am accepting that our surroundings will increasingly be less and less predictable.

Our August was busy and rich with harvests. We have a year of beetroot, spaghetti squash and fennel. We finally ate our own artichokes! Every year, Nature allows different crops, and we do lose some, too – this year, pumpkins did not come up too well, and I am told that’s because they need a lot of feeding, so I need to tend to them more next time.

I am focussing on learning to grow from seeds this year, so now it’s time to start collecting them. I have sweat peas, beans and sunflower seeds drying on our shelves. I also wanted to encourage more wildlife on our plot, so we have built a second pond and yes! We now have frogs! Frogs eat slugs and help with our gardening, but they also keep me company when I am having my quiet cuppa at the end of the day – this one sat with me for 20 minutes, looking at me curiously.

I used the space cultivated by our friend and turned a part of it into a mini-meadow with a bench dedicated to our dog, Poppy. So now, when I sit down for a moment, I am surrounded by bees, flies, and bumblebees of any kind. The space is heaving with life – a life that pollinates our flowers and veggies. Our flower vase at home is full of colours! And this one…sat on the plot while Poppy was there too:

My work life was super busy and, at the same time, somewhat slower because I always slowed down for August intentionally. I am learning to take two weeks off here and there – we need to do so for ethical reasons as therapists, although I still challenge the idea of two weeks replacing a balanced life across the entire year. We limit flying trips, so we took ourselves to the local seaside. I am not going to lie: the sense of dread with all the news about how heavily polluted our seas made my heart ache, but we made the most of the stay. Water is always humbling.

As we enter autumn, I am preparing for seven (so far) public speaking and teaching events around digital burnout, digital wellbeing, liberation psychology and VR therapy. I am so excited to enter those few openings, connect with like-minded people, and invite newcomers to those themes and topics. We start with liberation psychologies in two weeks’ time here – the heart and soul of all my work.

While I share what I happen to know, I also continue learning. The fact that Advaya opened up their new courses platform with Minna Salami and Aisha Paris Smith was such a gift for my journey of unlearning the Europartiarchal education. Additionally, it carefully places me in a female-centric space before I join the first session of the We Will Dance With the Mountains programme with Báyò Akómoláfé and his tribes. This opportunity to join an Afro-centric tribe of Elders and learn from them and the community of over a thousand professionals from all around the globe arrives carefully into my life at the right time: the time of integrating counselling into my work and business, thus reconnecting the body, the mind, the heart and the spiritual (in my case, Nature). I am stepping into yet another new (my)self to inhabit it, to feel into it and to continue reflecting, re-imagining and helping others do the same. This time of the year is softer, darker and causier, so I am entering the programme in my jing with the intention to LISTEN. I want to explore various ways of listening, especially listening through feeling. I love the fact that therapeutic training prepared me to sit in silence because SILENT also spells LISTEN, and I think it often means that, too. So, while I know we are invited to dance in the cracks of the failing systems (that is what the word “Vunja” means in Sewahili), I personally look out for opportunities to sit with others and listen to the songs of those cracks with an open heart.

If you know me, you can probably guess – yes, there is a plan. I quietly hope to join an MA in diversity in a counselling college next year, so while this programme is wonderful in itself, it also helps me de-centralise my social positioning from Eastern and Western Europe to anywhere in the world before I study various aspects of our belongings. Equally, as a part of the process of unlearning, I am letting go of the linearity of my usual life planning. The Brexit trauma has shown me how fragile reality can be, so I quietly set a direction, but who knows – maybe a different song will call me in 2024? We will see.

I am now pulling out the blankets, warmer jackets for gardening, and wellies. I am stocking up on exhibitions, talks and book launch tickets to hide indoors with inspiring people. I am shifting between the grounded and virtual connections ever so lightly – because, really, by now, we are so interconnected. And those webs of connections may just help us figure out a better future for ourselves and all other kinds. I am hopeful.


Today, I invite you to reflect on and practice the fluidity of online and offline aspects of our relationships, connections, and tribes. Virtual realities and our grounded reality (offline) are smoothly interconnected by now (if you engage online, that is – I know some practitioners still don’t, and I respect that, of course). We message each other, read and listen to each other and share both online and offline. All of those interactions, not only the offline ones, shape our relationships and what, in psychology, we call the relational self.

  1. List all your significant relationships and pick a few that stand out.
  2. Reflect on how much of your communication with those people happens online and offline and why. What factors impact how you communicate?
  3. Reflect on how often you meet in person and how you feel about that. What is the role of Internet-based technologies in nurturing those relationships?
  4. Relationships can be nurturing, toxic or complicated – how can you use digital and offline interactions to nurture moments of togetherness while re-drawing healthy boundaries, if needed?
  5. Intensity and intimacy are not the same. In my experience, we often confuse conflict with contact – can you use digital channels and their functions to engage in more contact than conflict?
  6. In Virtual Reality (but also in tray work – placing figures or objects on the sand, offline), we play with positioning and distance between people to examine our relationship and see what feels good. Can you reflect on your relationships and sense who is too close, who needs to be more present, who is missing, and how can you tend to that?
  7. Explore your ancestry. In grief work, there is a theory of continuing bonds, which means that even if people die, we still have a relationship with them. We can use this approach to lost friendships, pets, and places we must avoid. And we also have a relationship with our ancestors if we know them. You can explore those relationships, too.
  8. Since we talk about dancing, let’s not forget celebrations’ connecting and nurturing power. How can you use your offline and online communication to sit together, play, make food and eat it, create something collectively – a moment of sitting in with the other? This can be a working party in the allotment, of course. But so is a check-in Zoom call with a hot cup of tea, a simple emoticon, or a .gif sent to a friend. All of them are signals of human connection; as social creatures, we need to celebrate those.

(Enjoy your Sunday. I have a collective project today – we will be dismantling our allotment greenhouse to replace it with a better one offered to us for free by a kind fellow human being. Have a good weekend!)

This post was originally posted on Substack in our Syl’s Liberation Psychologies Newsletter.

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Senior social media and digital wellbeing consultant, coach and counsellor. Founder of Voxel Hub.

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