As a dog owner, I never stop appreciating the welcome I receive when I walk through the door. Dogs are pack animals, and after some quick Googling, I find that most experts agree dogs are genetically predisposed to being “social”.
Like pack animals, humans are social beings. And crucial to our emotional and mental well-being, is the inborn need to belong to community. Community allows us to learn from others; it fuels personal growth, and feeds our desire to belong. To begin to see the impact of not having connection, we only need to look at the opposite definitions: detach, disengage, sever. The cost of this withdrawal is isolation, and depression.
Simply, we NEED each other. We are a GIFT to each other. Here are some ways to get connected:
What’s out there? – Explore your community resources. Is there a group that interests you? Perhaps you’ve always wanted to join a choir, hiking group, sports team, parenting class, cooking course, or support group of some type.
Volunteer – Serving others allows us to step “outside” of ourselves. It humbles us, and reminds us of our inter-connectedness to one another.
Grab a Java – or tea. Or appy. Do you have someone with whom you continue to say, “We should get together”? Make a call. Commit to a time and place. Bonding with old friends can renew our sense of belonging and increase our self-esteem.
Share your story (with someone safe) – Sharing takes risk. It means becoming slightly vulnerable, and there is no intimacy without vulnerability. Sharing our story is a way for others to learn from us, and for us to learn about ourselves.
Take the time – Put away distractions, and choose to have face to face communication. Relationship expert Dr. John Gottman puts it as “Turn towards, rather than turn away, or turn off.” This is true of we want to have quality, lasting connections with others.
Of course, beginning the journey to find connection takes some risk. You may have to step out of your comfort zone to be willing to try something new, and there may be some life obstacles preventing you from taking these steps. If you find yourself struggling, there is help available. Call, or email anytime.