At a time when loneliness is almost at epidemic levels in our society, it is more important than ever to evaluate your connection to others. It may be that you have many social connections through work, home life, and social media but still feel lonely. It might be that you are missing deep, personal connection from family or close friends.
The Myth of Self-Love and Need for Social Connections.
There is value placed on autonomy within our individualistic Western culture and we are seeing increasing levels of isolation, loneliness and isolation. The statement that I’m sure you often hear touted by pop psychology is that “you have to love yourself before anyone can love you.” Stan Tatkin (2011), in his book Wired for Love, offers that it is not really possible to love yourself before someone ever loves you. You learn to love yourself and give yourself self-kindness because you have experienced being loved by someone. It is our interpersonal relationships and the ways in which we have interacted with others that have shaped the person we are today. To achieve mental wellness, there needs to be more of a priority placed on developing and maintaining the social connections we have with close friends and family.
The importance of social connections does not mean being codependent. In fact, sometimes meeting your own needs for love and acceptance requires self-compassion and placing fewer demands on your social support network. Indeed, it is important that you harbour good will and self-kindness towards yourself in order to overcome unnecessary suffering from inevitable relational pain. Kristen Neff and Christopher Germer (2018) explain that there are two types of relational pain, connection and disconnection. The pain of connection involves feeling empathy when those that we care about are suffering and the pain of disconnection is when we are experiencing loneliness, loss or rejection. Having self-compassion allows you to interrupt the negative cycle feelings attached to this pain. To achieve deep and personal connections with others, it is important that you gain the emotional resources needed to build resilience and sustain happy and healthy relationships in your life.
Within the context of developing impactful, meaningful connections with others we learn to develop healthy boundaries and live a more balanced life. It is important, therefore, that you make time for family and friends enough that you can truly form deep relational bonds. As discussed in a previous blog post on boundaries, you might find that you’ve numbed yourself to your “yes” and “no,” by taking on too much. This is where the need for increased boundary setting comes in. To achieve the much sought after work/life balance will require good, strong boundaries that protect time for developing and maintaining a good, diverse network of people in your life that you’ve constructed deep relationships with.
At times it may be that, you can be your own source of support and love when others are unable to meet your needs, for whatever reason, meeting yourself with loving self-kindness. The bottom line is that, as human beings, we need relationships and connection with others. If you need help in reaching balance in your life, coping with loneliness, and achieving mental wellness – reach out and book an initial consultation today.