Need for connection
In the book How People Grow, Dr. Henry Cloud writes “People’s most basic need in life is relationship. People connected to other people thrive and grow, and those not connected wither and die. It’s a medical fact, for example, that from infancy to old age, health depends on the amount of social connection we have.” He goes on to say “Virtually every emotional and psychological problem, from addictions to depression, has alienation or emotional isolation at its core or close to it. Recovery from these problems always involves helping people to get more connected with each other at deeper and healthier levels than they are.”
I believe that true happiness absolutely requires and depends on honest trustworthy personal relationships. In the work place this plays out in the need for trustworthy professional connections. The flip side of this would be that without deep relationships happiness or success cannot exist. I think people resist getting close to others because they don’t think they need others as much as they really do. At the center of this resistance is usually a lack of trust fed by fear. As we grow up our ability to trust others usually is greatly affected by the environment we have spent the most time in. If our experience is that people generally break their promises and let you down, we will be more cautious when considering letting someone into our personal circle. We’ve been conditioned to disconnect.
Sometimes fear is a major cause for us to fail to connect with people. We are afraid of what other people think of us and sometimes terrified of being rejected. It’s much easier to be disconnected than to try to connect and face rejection. Like Tom Hanks character in Castaway and Matt Damon’s in The Martian, people who cannot trust and fear rejection or intimacy also have to figure out how to maintain their physical and mental health apart from others.
Finding great people
I was at a holiday gathering a while back and one of my relatives was asked where her boyfriend was. She replied that they broke up, it was not working out. She then asked if anyone had any suggestions to where she can go to find a “good man”. She says that all the guys she has been involved with turn out to be duds. This isn’t an uncommon thought. I’ll bet there are several million people in our country that feel the same way about finding a soul mate. There just don’t seem to be any decent ones out there.
Layers of separation
I was with my daughter the other day and a song came on the radio that she was singing to. I asked her who was singing it. She said, “are you kidding me?, you really don’t know who this is? Everyone knows this song.” It seems I live in a different world than she does. What is so common in her world, is foreign to me. I was so close but so far away.
I think socially there are many different cultural layers all overlapping each other with each group being somewhat isolated from the other layers while sharing the same space. It really is bizarre how these cultural layers can be literally standing in the same place, and like someone who doesn’t like their food to touch, seem to keep from mixing. That explains why my relative feels so far away from finding a decent guy, and why I was clueless to apparently one of the most popular songs on earth. Sometimes the invisible walls are the thickest.
We are what we hang with
When I was in my early twenties, I was surrounded by many friends and like me, most of them didn’t have any kind of vision for their lives. We were a crowd that put lots of focus on the here and now, living for the moment. Most of us were running away from our past in some way. We spent quite a bit of time together and had many social interactions but these friendships were shallow at best. Friendships (girls and guys) seemed to be temporary and centered around where the next party is. I had many friends, but meaningful connection was a different story.
The truth is, that I was exactly like the people closest to me, the ones I spent the most time with. Someone said we are the sum total of our five closest people. This was certainly true for me. I had a many friends but didn’t really connect with any of them, at least not with any depth. I would go out on the town, have lots of fun, meet more interesting fun people, then go back to my apartment and bask in my loneliness and addictions. There were people all around, but I was all alone. My friends were not interested in connecting with me as a person or helping me grow nor was I with them. We didn’t know how, and were too immature to care or know what it was that we were needing. We all had our own voids to figure out how to fill.
Where are you looking?
What I know now, that I did not know the first half of my life, is that there are many healthy, happy, connected people out there if you wish to seek them out and find out where they hang. I am not suggesting that all healthy and happy people are separate from everyone else and part of an exclusive club. They are all over. They come in every color and every size. They are in the stores you shop, walking down the street, eating in the same restaurants that you eat. You may not recognize them if you don’t know what to look for. If you want to find a bunny, don’t look in a fox hole.
Have you ever felt like there was something missing in your life, but you don’t know what it is? I have asked many people this question in my life and apart from a couple of people I suspect were not honest, everyone has said yes. Most of the time when I engage in conversation with people about this, it strikes a chord and often leads to a very constructive and insightful conversation. It seems we all have a void that needs to be filled.
“As people are cut off from others and their souls are starved for connectedness, the need for love turns into an insatiable hunger for something. It can be a substance, sex, food, shopping, or gambling, but these never satisfy, because the real need is the connectedness to God and others, and to God through others.” Henry Cloud – How People Change.
We were created to experience connectedness vertically with our creator and horizontally with people. It is not until we have connectedness with God that we can truly connect with others on the level we were created for. We also cannot stay connected with God without being connected to other people. It is through other people who we are supported and upheld. It is other people who push us to grow and to push our limits to reach higher levels. It is through other people that God grows each person. He sends people to teach you, encourage you, challenge you, discipline you, provide support, advice and direction. This doesn’t happen if you are not connected to people who share these values. We are what we hang with.
Grace is the glue
It is God that gives us the passion and the commitment to extend to others the kind of grace that God extended to us through Jesus Christ. He forgave us our sins so that we could experience connectedness with him. Connectedness cannot happen without grace to bridge the gap. Grace is the glue that holds ALL relationships together. You cannot give away what you do not have. Without grace, we all disconnect and go our separate ways. Are you connected?