People are basically “social creatures.” Since the dawn of human history, one main trait that separated humans from many in the animal kingdom was the need/desire to band together into communities for survival. We learned to hunt in teams. We have learned how to create different roles and expertise that helps the “tribe” survive and thrive. For example, some people: grow food, some prepare food, some build structures, some care and educate the young members, some minister to the health and spiritual needs of individuals, some protect the tribe, etc. There are a very few of us who can survive without any other people or outside assistance and people who do not require the assistance of other people are rare and these individuals seem to be a vanishing breed.
Relationships with other people have become more complicated. In today’s world, we have family relationships, business/work relationships, spiritual relationships, creativity/productivity relationships, educational/mentoring relationships, and many other attachments related to services that require relationships. Family and friends are necessary for most people. Our earliest survival as an infant requires bonding relationships with care-giving family or friends. (Many physical and emotional challenges develop when children are neglected or do not have strong, trusting bonds with their caregivers.) But most of us have developed an even greater requirement for caring relationships that go beyond the need of physical survival. We now have expectations of emotional connections within “committed relationships” that seem emotionally necessary for survival. This may be a dramatic overstatement of survival, but expectations can, and do, get developed into mental and emotional issues that appear to be necessary for quality of life.
For example, our society, or at least advertisers, has created an “emotional need” for us to be “home with family during the ‘Holidays’.” In the United States, that means that you should be lonely or guilty for not being with “loved ones” during Thanksgiving or Christmas Season. Depression rises. Suicides spike after the “holidays.” Substance abuse increases to cope with emotions of “loneliness” or to help us survive time when we are trapped with family that we have successfully avoided all year long. Financial stress increases. Travelling becomes more stressful. So we need to increase our awareness of the potential emotional victimization we can have to these expectations of connection.
Putting the downside of expectations for connection aside, it is time to address a more significant, day to day, reality of connection. Most of us can improve our quality of life and increase our personal productivity by mental or emotional or spiritual connection with another person or with a group of trusted, like minded people. Our physical health improves. (There have been research studies on increased longevity of married men vs. single men, for example.) Our emotional health improves, if we are involved with healthy people in healthy relationships. We thrive spiritually when we can connect with people or institutions that create an open focus of our higher consciousness. Conversely, when we lose a “loved one” we can lose our physical or emotional health. With a “loss,” our source of loving acceptance can be altered or removed leaving us a gaping hole in our emotional support foundation.
We must understand this possible situation and learn to manage our levels of self-care to adjust for self-nurturing when we experience a significant loss of love and connection. When aware, we can be better prepared for the situation and hopefully avoid becoming a victim to this circumstance. Losses of connection can happen suddenly or over time. They can be from planned lifestyle changes, like moving or job changes, or from random acts that are beyond our control. Regardless, we benefit from discovering our unique needs and requirements for healthy connections. We will do better when we can know how to reach out and get appropriate, positive support when it is needed.
“No man is an island,” is part of a quote by John Donne in 1624 that can be understood to mean that humans benefit from connections and the loss of any connections may contribute to a reduced quality of life.
Please consider how to develop and maintain “healthy” relationships with relatively “healthy” people or institutions. Your physical, emotional, and spiritual health can benefit from “good” connections.
Note: Connections with family are NOT always healthy. Connections at work are not always healthy. Unfortunately, connections with friends are not always healthy, though you have more control over who you have as friends. Please recognize “healthy” relationship connections and nurture these.