I was reminded again this week, through the sad events in Boston, Massachusetts that we really do need one another. Out of the rubble of lost lives and limbs arose an army of people connected by sadness and grief going above and beyond to make sure they helped and supported every person they possibly could. Strangers housing disoriented families, men carrying children to safe places, and medical professionals jumping in to help wherever they found a need. In times of crisis we really do need one another.
However, in the regular rhythm of our daily lives we really need others as well. From the website “Live your Life well” I saw that research points to the on-going benefits of good social connection:
1. Social connection brings increased happiness. When you are offered concrete help, emotional support, fresh perspective, wanted advice, and encouraging validation you will find that your emotions will stay more hope-filled then downcast.
2. Better health is another benefit from being connected to others. Loneliness is associated with a higher risk of high blood pressure, sleeplessness, and depression.
3. Connecting regularly with others helps us to remember that life isn’t all about our challenges. When connected to others we are also able to care for their needs, focus on being supportive, and share in our common challenges. This can help us to have a balance in our own thinking.
When thinking about friendships, some people think that in order to be less lonely they must be liked by everyone. That’s just not true! The person who has 4,000 friends on Facebook is not necessarily “connected in relationship”….especially if the bulk of their free time is spent maintaining their Facebook page! Two or three amazing , trusted friends/family can be all we need to be known, heard, or validated.
Life is busy. Perhaps this has been an especially crazy season for you and quality connections with others has been tough to find; yet with a time of reflection you would have to honestly say that you have been experiencing some of the symptoms of a disconnect: discouragement, restlessness, isolation, etc. Perhaps a few of these steps would be helpful in moving you into a place of connectedness:
1. Make a list of those you would like to connect with, calendar a bi-weekly/monthly time with them that allows you to spend some quality time.
2. When spending time with those you value the most: turn off phones and other distracting devices. Maximize what little time you have!
3. Listen really well and repeat back what you have heard to be sure you truly understand what is being shared!
4. Ask for help. Even great friends will have trouble reading your mind.
5. Share your appreciation for those you value; you may be thinking it but bridges are built when your actually share it!
6. Move out of unhealthy relationships to give yourself fresh emotional and time margins to begin to invite quality connections into your life. Boundaries are a good thing!
We need one another~In our personal lives as well as in a national crisis! If you have found yourself isolating I beseech you to reach out and invite people IN again. 🙂
“It is impossible for us to be all we can be in isolation.” Paula P. Brownlee