Connectedness and Finding Our Tribe

3 December 2010

So what do I mean when I use the word connectedness? Connectedness is a term used to describe the level of connection, support and belonging we feel towards our social institutions and the people around us, for example how connected we feel towards our work colleges, family, school mates, and our local community. As children connectedness starts with the family and as we grow up moves to acceptance from our peers at school and then into acceptance from our work place. Studies have shown that feeling isolated or disconnected in any of these areas dramatically increases the risk towards mental health diseases, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, domestic violence, physical illness and more. I estimate from my own clinical practice that over 70% of the clients that I see, who suffer from mental health disease, feelings of not belonging, isolation and disconnectedness were triggers for the onset of the illness.

So what can we do as a society to reduce mental health and promote connectedness amongst our peers? Humans need social interaction (even though on many days I want to hide in a cave away from people) we need to feel supported, loved and a connection to others. I have found it helps when this connectedness comes from like-minded people, where we can make real and deep connections with people. Have you found that when you spend time with work colleagues you spend most of your time talking (or complaining) about work? We seek out others who have a similar experience to us in the work place and we form our bonds around those similarities. When we were at school we were friends with those who we thought we most similar to us, you remember how it was… there were the music people, the smart people, the pretty people, the sporty people….. Well at least that is how I remember it from when I went through school. However, often these connections are not fulfilling enough, as humans we really need connections that nourish our deeper beliefs. I have found that when people find connections to people or groups that really support their inner essence then depression and anxiety dramatically decreases. So how do we find people that we can really connect to?/em> I think the first step is to be honest about who you are. Big statement I know, but do you know how many times someone come into my office saying that there are no like minded people that they can really relate to, then they refer a work colleague to me, who then comes in and says the exact same thing, and on further questioning I find out that both people have very similar beliefs but have never discussed these beliefs with the other. I mean how is your work mate meant to know that you are into quantum physics and how the universe was created unless you talk about it? So why don’t we talk about it?/em> I believe the reason we don’t talk about it is because we don’t want to feel isolated just incase everyone else thinks we are a nut job! The unfortunate thing is that many of my clients, and I’m betting many people in general, are all beginning to feel the same way about a lot of issues, but because we are scared of being isolated incase our beliefs are a little too out there we don’t discuss these thought and beliefs with others. So how do we get around this? I have found the best thing to do when you want to find more like-minded people is to go to where these like-minded people might be. So if you are into yoga, join a yoga class, if you believe we need to end hunger from third world countries then join a volunteer group. Go find your people is my point! There are classes and interest groups held all over Australia on every night of the week. And if you find one and you don’t feel like you fit in, don’t despair try again. I believe we spend too much time trying to suppress who we really are to fit into the crowd, and the sad thing is that most people do this, so the crowd you are trying to fit into isn’t real any way! So be yourself, find your community and be proud of who you really are, the more you do this the more you give permission for someone else to do it.

Life is too short to live a life you are not passionate about.