I didn’t even realise what I was missing. A silent, creeping dis-ease was taking hold and I had no clue…..
On the surface I am VERY connected. I have many friends, lots of new friends particularly in online communities. I have family. I have clients. I am very connected to what I do.
What I hadn’t appreciated was that I was missing real, in-person, contact with people. How significant the change had been from working in an office with many others, to working from home and how my frequency of contact with other humans had dropped significantly.
I knew this at an intellectual level. I'd even planned for it. But I hadn’t quite understood what it was that I was really missing.
So how do you know if you are disconnected and why is it important?
We are becoming more and more aware that one of the leading causes of depression is lack of social connection. Yet it is becoming easier and easier to live a disconnected life. This is a serious issue.
The symptoms are subtle. Slow to take hold and manifest into anything tangible, but after chatting with others it seems many of us find ourselves in a similar place, here are just some of the signs:
When we feel like this we often turn inwards, asking what’s wrong with me? Searching inside for an answer, putting things on hold til we feel better. We're wired to focus in on ourselves when life gets busy and when we feel something is wrong.
It's also easy to distract ourselves from the real issues: the very mechanisms and technology that creates and enables connection can also breed inauthentic and superficial connection, creating our own facade of life whilst also only looking at the facade of others.
But the answer lay outside of yourself?
In human connection, real human connection.
Deep connection is the antidote to madness - Stefan Molyneux
When was the last time you:
Shared a laugh?
Shared your ideas, dreams and goals?
Got to know someone better
Did something kind for someone?
Looked someone in the eye?
Listened - fully listened to someone?
Asked someone questions to help them understand themselves more deeply?
Talked to someone new?
As humans we are social beings. We don’t just prefer to have healthy relationships and contact with other people - we NEED them. Social segregation, banishing and isolation have been punishments for as long as there have been people because it is so harsh.
My mentor and teacher Marisa Peer points out that we come on to the planet with two very powerful needs to find and maintain connection and avoid rejection.
Comforting others and helping them through their experiences can help us better learn to navigate our own stressful situations and improve our emotional wellbeing. Hearing other people’s stories builds our own empathy and helps us challenge and broaden how we look at things and our perspective, which makes us more resilient.
Human connections are deeply nurtured in the field of shared story - Jean Houston
It’s not always about having long-term relationships and friendships either. Studies have shown that those who talking to strangers as they go about their day creates a more positive experience ( University of British Columbia psychologist Elizabeth Dunn and her colleague Gillian M. Sandstrom - talking to the cashier in a coffee shop improved mood). Even as little as eye contact can have a positive benefit.
The unexpected connections we make might not last, yet stay with us forever - Sofia Coppola
We have to give others our time. Have shared experiences, show up as we are.
What we give in our time, kindness and service to others we receive back in connection.
And what’s more, in restoring connection with others, we create a greater connection with ourselves.
So what refilled my connection cup? A week FULL of hugs, shared experiences, doing worthwhile things, talking to taxi drivers, waiters, door attendants,meeting new people and getting to know others even better.
Now to keep it full!
Tell me if this speaks to you, I’d love to know your experience.
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