Feeling Connected in a Disconnected World
Have you ever felt disconnected?
What does that mean and look like for you?
Is it a feeling of loneliness, sadness, of being overwhelmed?
A little bit lost?
The truth of the matter is, we live in a crazy world where we can be connected through email, voicemail, Facebook messenger, texting, Instagram, Snapchat, and so many more ways. However, we still feel more disconnected than ever.
I have a lot of experience with this because everyday I work with busy go-getters and help them stay sane and healthy in an insane, 24/7 demanding world. The beauty of this is I get to talk to so many people in a real and honest way and really get a sense of what's going on in their lives and out in the world. And this is something that comes up all the time.
Face it, we are tribal people who are living on our own, and it's not the way it's supposed to be. How often do you walk down the street and see someone with headphones on and completely checked out? They don't even say hello. Or, you're in an elevator with another person and they're looking off and not connecting with you. I’m sure you can relate. For me, the worst thing in the entire world is when I'm in a crowded room and I sneeze and nobody says bless you. How screwed up is that?
We are people that should be connecting with each other!
This is hurting us in such a big way!
I'm going to share a little bit of my own story of struggle around connection. I moved to Boston in my early 20s, and I didn't really know anyone. I started a tech company with my boyfriend. While he worked at a client site, I worked alone every day in an office. We didn't have shared space or WeWork's or anything like that back then. I had this little rented office and every single day, for 10 hours a day, I worked entirely by myself. Imagine how lonely and horrible that was. I look back and think, "Wow, I was so depressed then and I didn't even know it," because I didn't have friends. I didn’t have fun. I just had work and my boyfriend.
As time went on and the company grew, we did hire lots and lots of people. The company ended up growing to over 100 people. At that point, my boyfriend became my husband and we were the bosses and didn't really feel comfortable hanging out with the other people at work who were the same age as us or older.
This gave me more and more of a feeling of being separate and alone and I felt the weight of not being able to fit in. We all do have those struggles. We all think that everybody else fits in so perfectly and we're the odd man out, right? People are like, "You? No." Yes. Of course, we do but we always think we're the only one.
Because I was still working insane hours, I did eventually crash and burn.
I think a lot of it was because I did not have community. I did not feel connection. Part of my getting healthy was really difficult because I also didn't have support and connection. So, when I moved to the burbs, I started realizing that I needed more connection and that it wasn't going to just fall in my lap. I started forming groups. It started out with a book club, and then a movie club, and then a rollerblading club. Then it moved into the schools where I started parent discussion groups. Even though I loved the groups and I loved the people in the groups, I always wondered, "Would I be here if I wasn't the organizer of this? Would they have invited me?" You know that stuff that goes through our head all the time - it's so inherent in our beings, especially with women because we are desperate to be in community.
I think that is why that part of my mission in the work that I do is to help others feel connected. One of the things that I have found is really useful for myself and for my clients is forming deep connection groups where we can be real, honest and understand that we're not alone. We're not crazy, right? Isn't that what we want? We want to be sane and healthy. We want to know we're not crazy. I've seen the results over and over. Not only do people feel like they fit in somewhere, but they feel like they can do more than they ever could do on their own because it's the power of community.
We live in a really interesting world right now. Economically, we're in pretty good shape and that means that we aren't living in the same home as our parents. Sometimes our homes are a little bit farther apart and we can afford to hire people to help us, like babysitters, housekeepers, and personal shoppers. We're not relying on each other the way that we might have historically. Even though it is a wonderful thing that we have this economic freedom, it is separating us again from others. Houses are far apart. We're further apart from our families. We're traveling more, we're living across the country. We don't have a strong family bond and we're especially disconnected from ourselves.
How are we disconnected from ourselves?
We're living in our brains instead of in our bodies. We're not connected to ourselves and to others. We're in this 24/7 overwhelm.
I see social media as really super interesting when it comes to community and connection. In some ways, it's awesome. Who doesn't love Facebook on their birthday? When it's a special occasion, even when someone dies, Facebook is an amazing community. You feel like you are part of something. People are showing up for you in a huge way during important life events. I love social media but sometimes we use it as a replacement for the real thing.
Take some time this week to pick up the phone, hear a voice, make a plan to meet in person. This might just be the healthiest thing you can do for yourself this week!