The Need for Social Interaction
I can remember at the tender age of five lining up all my dolls and barbies on my pink covered comforter on my bed. Next, I gave them all a piece of slightly torn paper and began teaching them how to spell. Sounds strange right? I know I get it, don't worry, my barbies & dolls are long gone.
I grew up in the 70's and 80's and one thing that today's kids would never understand(well, mine don't), is just how lucky they are that they can socialize with their friends from anywhere in the world by hitting send, FaceTime or by a SNAP. They also do not get grounded as much as I did or whippings for that matter.
I can tell you that I probably spent over 80% of my childhood in my room from groundings. I know what your thinking, I must have been an awful child. Well, I've been a nanny, an Aunt and now a mother and I can tell you, I really wasn't. I don't know about you other 70's generation adults, but I was terrified of my parents. Being bad was not an option.
Once I started High school and my parents divorced, the quiet, introverted little curly haired girl(me), spread her wings and flew the coupe! I was never the same. I actually became that "bad" girl, drinking, experimenting with drugs and other foolish and risky behaviours. Why is that? I often thought it was just a "normal" teen phase I went through or I was rebelling against my parents divorce, when only recently did I discover that one of the biggest contributors to my crazy teen adolescent life was simply this, LONELINESS.
All those years in my room and not going out with friends really had an impact on my social life later on. I could not socialize without being tipsy or drunk unfortunately. And of course, these risky behaviours only lead to more and more.
When the "party" was over I would isolate myself again to what I knew.
When GUILT Becomes your Friend
If you ever lived the party life as a young person, you know the terrible guilt that can settle in the next morning after parties and too many drinks. Regardless of where that guilt stemmed from, guilt is guilt and it has a way of robbing your joy and peace. It is the same with everyone no matter our age.
Why do we continue to go back to the very thing that brings us misery? Well, I believe it is like anything, we become comfortable in familiar places. For years I kept going back and forth on that cycle because I didn't know how to get off the roller coaster. Then came the worst…..
The After effect…Depression
During my teen and adolescence years I did not know that my habitual and risky behaviours were leading me on a downward spiral into depression.
Depression was not talked about much 30 years ago. You just kept going and doing and found your own coping mechanisms either in alcohol, promiscuity, drugs, toxic relationships and dropping out of school etc. I look back now at 46 and I have made the connections to my anxiety and depression today.
Loneliness or isolation at any stage of life can have health risks connected to it. Here are just a few;
- May diminish a person’s resolve and self-discipline over time, making them more likely to indulge in self-destructive behaviours such as drinking or eating to excess.
- People who describe themselves as lonely are also more likely to contribute to their social isolation by neglecting to engage with others or to secure emotional support.
- In contrast to younger people who may or may not be lonely, middle-aged adults who say they are lonely also report increased exposure to stressors.
- Loneliness produces objective and measurable effects on the immune and cardiovascular systems.
- Loneliness is associated with a variety of sleeping disorders, including sleep deprivation, which, on a chronic basis, is associated with many of the same metabolic, neural, cellular, and hormonal consequences as those that occur with aging.
Add to that the GUILT factors
- Poor relationships -you may be the nicest, sweetest person around but your guilt can make you unstable to others, one day happy, next day sad, next day distant behaviour. This can cause others not to trust you because of inconsistent behaviour. We can also try levelling the playing field with others in our futile effort to bring some relief to our own shame by seeing others as fallen as us when they're really not at all.
- Poor self-image – the inability to come to terms with your guilt causes us to suppress it and this only leads to "shame" and lack of commitment in every area of your life. You become so busy internalizing your guilt that you can not free yourself long enough to enjoy your life and those around you.
Dealing with our Loneliness and Guilt before DEPRESSION pays a visit
Unfortunately, if the first two conditions are not dealt with, depression is sure to follow sooner or later. Many of us can easily diagnose depression and recognize it for what it is. what it is, but we often miss the underlying connections.
Keep in mind that loneliness is not so much abnormal, we can all experience at point or another, death of a loved one, divorce, new school, etc or such as in my case; social isolation as a child.
Chronic loneliness is the concern. Lack of relationships, friends, peers, mentors and daily activities, unresolved guilt can all be factors in the inevitable path of depression.
Being Consistently Aware
Later in my life as an adult I often found myself regressing back into the independent, safe, and comfortable place of isolation. Many times it was a product of "protection" and that familiar place as a child.
What I do know now is how much I need others in my life. We are in need of connection with others, physically, emotionally and even spiritually. Even psychologists agree like Psychologist John Cacioppo says, "we are built for social contact. There are serious—life-threatening—consequences when we don't get enough. We can't stay on track mentally. And we are compromised physically. Social skills are crucial for your health."
Being intentional when it comes to building relationships, getting out and being social is the only thing that will work for some of us.
I want to encourage you to get involved. with others.
Now, please understand, I understand that there are introverted people and alone time is much required by all of us at times.
Getting involved means setting certain times of the week where you either go out on date nights with your spouse or children or friends, make time each week to workout, go for a walk or go to the gym. Maybe you attend an educational class (e.g.. Goodness Me has tons), anything for personal development and being active. Volunteering is something else that brings a lot of satisfaction and reward and bing with others.
It's about getting out! being around people.
In our social media world, it can often be more tempting to socialize behind a screen, however, we all need to make more time to get together in person.
As good and beneficial as social media can be (some would disagree and thats ok) there's nothing like togetherness.
Cheers to socializing and your HEALTH!