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The Importance of Human Connection

By: Dr. Jim Goldstein

The Importance of Human ConnectionI’ve often heard it said that we are all connected to each other in ways that we can’t always discern. I remember a lecture by Deepak Chopra where he explained that each of us share the same atoms and molecules with everyone else on the planet. It’s just that having a body with physical senses gives us the impression we are separate from what we see, separate from nature, separate from each other, separate from our true self.

I don’t know if that is true or not and I don’t think I could prove it. However, I have observed that I feel happier, calmer, safer, more loving and more hopeful about life when I experience my connection with others. Conversely, the more separate I feel, the more bleak my perspective becomes, the more fearful my outlook. My thinking takes a more negative turn.

I don’t think I am alone in my response to feeling disconnected. While I have great respect for the value of solitude, there is something about feeling disconnected from others that doesn’t usually lead to a good outcome. Even people who know that they are loved, if not experiencing some connection to their loved ones may doubt that the love is real. When someone doesn’t call us back, declines invitations or doesn’t respond to our attempts to connect, it isn’t long before we begin to wonder, “Are they mad at me?” or “Did I do something wrong?” Logically, there may be no basis for these doubts but psychologically, separation often leads to feelings of guilt.

We humans have a hard time abiding guilty feelings. Before long, we start projecting that guilt away from ourselves and onto others. This is where guilt leads to attack. We attack others (mainly in our thoughts about them) in hopes of alleviating our own guilt about the separation we feel.

Separation leading to guilt leading to attack (and more separation) is a vicious cycle and much more common than people realize. In extreme cases, the pattern plays out violently e.g., Columbine, VA tech, etc. But in everyday life, the attacks are experienced as suspicion, prejudice, gossip, hate and other fear based thoughts and acts all leading us to attack what we feel separate from. Notice how as political parties get farther and farther apart, the rhetoric becomes more vicious, conspiratorial and paranoid? Each attack makes it harder to connect. Not a pretty picture, is it?

What can we do about it? Plenty. It is actually very easy to break this cycle. Just start connecting with people whenever you can. Start with your immediate family. They already know that you love them but if you haven’t said it in a while, they may wonder where they stand with you. Call or write or leave a message on the answering machine of the people you love and let them know you are thinking about them. Smile at your neighbors and say, “Good morning” as your paths cross. Be kind and generous to people in traffic and in your e-mail messages. Watch what happens to your outlook on life when you consciously choose to connect with your fellow human beings. I’m not advocating becoming a Pollyanna or doing anything inappropriate. I’m saying that being proactive about staying connected is the best way I know of feeling safe and centered and aware of your true loving nature and everyone else’s. It certainly can’t hurt.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.


One response to “The Importance of Human Connection”

  1. Sue Maize says:

    Hi Jim,
    Thank you for this great insight to the importance of human connection. I found your blog when researching this very topic–as it is, I’ve been asked by a local medical establishment to speak about growing up in a family surrounded by varying degrees of mental illness and their theme is “Making Connections: Bridging the Gap”–I am also a high school teacher and one of the courses I teach is called Educational Leadership–in it students learn how the brain works and how important human connection is to developing a healthy brain and having emotional health….they then use what they learn to support high needs students every other day in lower grades. Our aim is to take what we are learning inside our little classroom and see how we can try and improve our school culture through….you guessed it! :)….human connection. Thank you for affirming some of the things I want to communicate in my talk at the conference and reinforce in my daily work. Best wishes, Sue

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