Welcome back to the third instalment of the series, 3 sides to Self. If you haven’t already read the previous posts, take the time to have a look at my introduction to the topic (follow the link above) and also part 1 Spiritual Self and part 2 Physical Self.
This week I will explain my view on why it is important to have social connections in our lives and how this helps fulfil a basic need as well as being a source of personal happiness.
Humans have evolved over thousands of years and I believe that a lot of what drives us today, began with our ancient ancestors.
Looking back through history, there was a very real need for individuals to belong to a group. The group provided the individual with support, safety and a sense of worth. Everyone had a place within the group, a role to play in the survival of the community as a whole.
Fast forward to today. Although we have evolved in many ways and it is quite possible for an individual to survive alone (indeed many people prefer it that way), there is still an ingrained side to us that gains fulfilment through meaningful interactions with others.
As usual it is different for everyone but I would like to talk about a few different areas that we can be mindful of in our search for happiness.
To begin, a common social group that many take for granted is family. Family groups come in all shapes and sizes. Family may not even be biologically related. The strength within a family group relies on trust and communication. Within a family group, we can find guidance from more experienced members (yep, I mean old people, sorry Mum and Dad hahaha), support from others with different skill sets than our own and most of all, friendship gained from years of getting to know someone.
Not everyone gets along with their family, and that’s ok. There is no need to allow people in our lives simply because they are related. Especially if they are harmful for our own physical or mental wellbeing. If this is the case, we can find family bonds in other social circles. Friendship groups can play just as big a role in our life as family. Sometimes, our friends know us better than our relatives.
The third way we can prioritise our Social Self is to be an active part in a community. Now this may be in the form of a religious group, an organised community of likeminded people (social activity groups such as riding, art and craft or sports) or it may be your local community support groups that look out for those less fortunate.
Being part of a community strengthens our feelings of self worth. And as an added bonus, we place ourselves in a position to help others with our own form of support and guidance.
I truly believe that making time for our social Self needs to be a priority. You see, a few years ago I struggled with depression. At the time I wasn’t even aware of it. Now as I look back I can actually see how, as my depression deepened, I slowly withdrew from all of the social groups I’ve just talked about. I hardly spoke with my family, I stopped meeting up with friends and didn’t renew my membership from the local board riders club. Eventually, I did seek professional help (and I can’t stress enough how important this is when dealing with depression). My doctor reminded me of all the supports that I actually had at my finger tips.
Fast forward to today, I speak with my family almost everyday of the week, I look forward to my time with my mates and truly appreciate the people in my life.
Now, this is an important point. In no way am I saying that our happiness depends on others providing it. No. Not at all. We are in charge of our own emotions, happiness included. What I am saying however is, that social interaction is a necessary part of life. By making sure you give time and thought and gratitude towards that, you are prioritising you’re social Self.
So I ask you, when did you last make your social Self a priority?
Thanks for reading, and as usual let me know your thoughts.