To Love and Be Loved

 

by Tiffany Joy Mansfield

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.

Is it possible to have a healthy mental state without human connection? We at Simple Modern Therapy would argue that the answer is no. Since day one of human life, people have had to learn to live with others. We are not robots –  we are human beings with beating hearts, the ability to feel emotions, and an innate need to love and be loved.

Brené Brown, an author and social researcher, defines connection as “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”

Research professor Dr. Brené Brown of the University of Houston.

“The energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”

– Brené Brown

Finding real connection is actually pretty tough these days if we are not intentional about it. Or rather, it is very easy to overlook the importance of connecting with others when our online lives are so readily available. Not to mention how many other distractions can hijack our time.

We live in a world that is so fast-paced, our responsibilities are greater than ever, and people are busy juggling careers, family, and other demands. Sometimes life is just so tiring that reaching out seems like another task to complete. But it’s a task that actually has great benefits.

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Where do people meet? Everywhere! Perhaps you can meet others at work, in a class you are taking, a coffee shop (some coffee shops are actually not offering Wi-Fi to encourage others to connect to each other) your local church, on a sports team, at a book club, the gym, a bar, at the park, or in a local public speaking group.

Daring. Greatly.

We can get caught up in the mentality that no one is reaching out to us, but if that’s the case, there is a quick solution: reach out to them. The benefits of connecting with others outweigh the fear of being vulnerable. Connecting with others can add love and joy to our lives, give us a sense of purpose and belonging, and also allow one to overcome loneliness and ease depression.

In a world of 7.53 billion people, I guarantee there is someone out there you can mesh with. And if in the past, we have been hurt by connecting with others or have never learned healthy connections, it is never too late. You never know where you will meet someone that will add to your life story and can expand your love of life.

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” 

– Dalai Lama

True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world.

Lack of human connection can affect us by showing up as loneliness and isolation. According to Johann Hari, who presented this TED Talk, connection can also be defined as the opposite of addiction. It may be tempting to turn to Netflix, sleep, or social media to combat this loneliness, but there is an even better way, although not as easy: make small connections by saying hello to someone on the subway, asking the checker at the grocery store how their day was, calling someone on the phone, inviting a friend over for coffee, or meeting in person the people we associate with online. Sometimes even just walking in the park or at the mall to be surrounded by others can fill our empty cups.

Maxine Harley from LifeLabs offers this simple but good reminder that “We all have a need to belong somewhere, to feel appreciated and wanted, to feel worthy and worthwhile, and to make a difference.”

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