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  • Sara

The Power of Human Connection

Updated: Sep 12, 2022

Human beings are social creatures. We crave community and love, and we flourish when we feel supported and cared for by others. Even the most introverted people need human connection to remind them that they have people in their lives that they care for and that care for them. In fact introverted isn't the socially awkward loner personality it's often made out to be. To be introverted just means that an individual values time spent alone to reenergize after social connection. Energy, for them, is mostly drawn from solitude.


In fact, we can take a closer look at introvertedness versus extrovertedness, and the similarities' between the two as well as the differences, to better understand the value of connection to all of human kind.


Those who consider themselves to be introverted tend to enjoy impendent activities. But that's not to say that they don't enjoy social outings, too. In fact, outings spent with friends, family members and romantic partners are not only valuable, they're essential. Connections allow introverted individuals fulfill a humanistic need to belong. After social events, however, those who were naturally more inwardly geared are more likely than their counterparts to need to balance this time with some seclusion.


Extroverted people draw their energy primarily from engaging with others. They not only enjoy time spent with those in their inner circles, they crave it. They also like meeting new people and feel comfortable in crowds. Extroverts, however, also need time alone to catch up on responsibilities and feel refreshed.


Again, all humans have a desire to belong and a need to connect, no matter how intro- or extroverted they may be.


Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs


If you are familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you’ll see that a person’s psychological needs include both esteem and belongingness. In order words, it’s crucial to feel a sense of self confidence in one’s abilities and feel as if one belongs to a group. Maslow surmised that basic physiological and safety needs need to be met in order to move onto these psychological needs and finally reach self-fulfillment.


To some degree, most of us experienced what can happen when we don’t have human connection through the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people were isolated from their loved ones and would go days, weeks, or even months without being able to interact in person. Not only was the pandemic wreaking havoc on the physical well-being of everyone across the globe, but it also heavily impacted mental health. If you ask people what they felt during the initial shutdowns, they will likely say that they felt scared, lonely, confused, and isolated; all those emotions are amplified when we are unable to connect with other human beings and have a sense of community.


Very early on in the pandemic, there were catch phrases that were circulating to help people feel less alone, including ‘together we will’ and simply ‘we’re all in this together.’ The same can be said of the well-known #MeToo movement. Life is much less scary when we feel ‘a part of’ rather than ‘apart from.’


Human connection is needed throughout all stages of life and can be a critical part in managing mental illness. If you have anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, or any other mental health condition, finding ways to maintain a strong connection with your support system is one way to ease symptoms. More often than not, we push people away and isolate ourselves when we are living with poor mental health; it is particularly tough to maintain relationships when you feel as if you are not loved and that people around you are better off without you. Remember, though, these are self-inflicted psychic injuries, and your loved ones do care about you and want to support you.


Here are some ways in which it can be easier to continue to foster connection, even when you are struggling the most:


1. Set a calendar reminder or make a note in your planner to call a friend or family member - It is so easy for us to get caught up in our every day lives that we forget to reach out. Mark it in your calendar to call someone and take some time to connect with individuals you often don’t get a chance to see in person.


2. Set weekly dates with friends and family members – whether it is the same person that you spend time with each week or a rotating group, set aside at least one day a week where you are able to get together.


3. Join a social activity – Joining a new local club, sports team, support group, etc., can be a great way to meet new people or ensure you are actively maintaining a relationship with those already in your life. While it is a bit nerve-wracking to put yourself out there at first, you might end up meeting some people that you become friends with for life.


Try one of the suggestions above or find your own creative ways to stay connected with others. We all need people from time to time to maintain a healthy mindset.

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