Lieberman’s research study about the pains and pleasures of social life indicated that social needs are managed using the same neural networks as used for primary survival needs such as food and water.
As such, threats to our sense of belonging can result in the equivalent experience as real physical pain.
And so, it’s not something we can just shake off. People can’t get over loneliness any more than they can get over a broken leg.
All the more reason to notice the places where we typically cut the threads of connection, and try and get ahead of the curve. Otherwise the loneliness will rip our hearts into a thousand shreds of sashimi.
When my girlfriend used to travel out of town, my tendency would be to hide out and hug the covers tight until she returned. And in my mind, that was a romantic notion. Like not knowing what to do with yourself when your partner is gone was some kind of noble symbol of devotion and love.
Not really. Because doing so only degenerated me into this lonely, sad, scared, television watching, pizza binging hermit version of myself.
It took me years to realize, oh wait, the best part of me should not be you. My world shouldn’t start to crumble the moment you step out of it.
Socially healthy people, on the other hand, know that when a significant other goes out of town for a week, they need to put a plan in place. They make daily, proactive efforts to connect with friends in their partner’s absence. And they have a menu of meaningful, connection based activities to choose from that will help keep their loneliness at bay.
Lesson learned, each step we take out of isolation, out of our old antisocial behaviors, and into a vital connection with others, is a true achievement in the interpersonal realm.
Choosing to reach out and cocreate with others is what floods our brains with feelings of belonging and make us feel alive.
We’re only alone in this world if we want to.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What can you choose to do this week to not feel lonely?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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