We are hard-wired to connect
“Connection is why we are here. We are hard-wired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering” Brene Brown
Isn’t it interesting that in the period of full lockdown, where people could not go and visit those they love, for many the amount of contact with people beyond their household actually increased? Yes, it was by video, by phone, by email and other non-physical methods, but it was contact nonetheless.
Brene Brown powerfully reminds us that our brains are hard-wired for connection. We are social animals. The brains of our young literally grow in a healthy way in the presence of love and connection, and without meaningful human contact they do not develop fully.
Loneliness and isolation are intrinsically connected to ill-health and mental health symptoms. We are just not designed to be alone. It is no wonder that lock-down has caused so much pain and difficulty for people, it is not only not our normal, it’s also not our biology to be so much indoors, or so lacking in embodied social contact.
I empathise deeply with people’s wish to be in fuller contact. It exhibits not only socially, but also in patterns of working and care, for example with clients wanting face to face psychotherapy rather than trying out methods where therapist and client don’t physically meet. I feel the discomfort too.
And yet, connection goes beyond being physically together. Purpose and meaning are found in acting for the good of all, including ourselves and those we love. Being grounded and considering what is right to do personally as society re-emerges is part of our wider connectedness.
Perhaps there are lessons we can learn from what has become possible since late March despite the circumstances. What a shame it would be if we later stopped reaching out to all those people we see now that we didn’t before, simply because we can go out and meet others again.
Who do you want to connect with this week? And how will you make sure you do?