Sometimes I think that the main thing that is wrong with the world is its intense disconnection. Humans are increasingly disconnected from themselves, not knowing what they want or what they desire and therefore often not being brave enough to go get it. They feel a faux sense of connection through social media but can’t have a truly human conversation with the person next door.
Kids are struggling with disconnection often from their parents who they literally just want to hangout with them. Kids don’t have a language for this though and the feeling of disconnection rapidly gets communicated as poor behaviour or a naughty kid with diagnosis or another.
Individuals in relationships often wonder if that is all? How can I feel more connected to my partner, or what do I have to do to be more connected?
Organisationally and in teams the amount of interpersonal connection that exists is often low, creating low engagement and a range of other organisational challenges. (depending on the Organisational Culture).
That lack of social connection we experience is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. Strong social connection leads to a 50% increased chance of longevity. Steve Cole demonstrates social connection strengthens our immune system and reduces inflammation, lowers anxiety and depression.
Other research shows that people who are more socially connected have a higher self-esteem, are more emphatic to others, are more trusting & cooperative, therefore, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them. Social connectedness therefore generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being.
Despite its clear importance for health and survival, social connectedness is reducing as demonstrated by a group of Americans who claimed to have 3 close confidante in 1985, in 2004 it dropped to 25% of Americans saying that they have no one to confide in. This survey suggests that one in four people that we meet may have no one they call a close friend! This decline in social connectedness may explain reported increases in loneliness, isolation, and alienation and may be why studies are finding that loneliness represents one of the leading reasons people seek psychological counselling. Those who are not socially connected are more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, antisocial behaviour, and even suicidal behaviours which tend to further increase their isolation. A survey showed that lack of social connectedness predicts vulnerability to disease and death above and beyond traditional risk factors such as smoking, blood pressure, and physical activity!
Brene Brown says it best, “a deep sense of love and belonging is an irresistible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.” We are profoundly social creatures. We may think we want money, power, fame, beauty, eternal youth or a new car, but at the root of most of these desires is a need to belong, to be accepted, to connect with others, to be loved.