If relationships are what matter most (and they are)...
...then building bigger, stronger, more flexible relationship muscles should be amongst our top priorities.
What happens when these muscles are weak?
Loneliness - the first thing God identified as not good (Genesis 2:18).
Why? Check out these things that science has uncovered about chronic loneliness:
There are many causes of loneliness: being isolated perhaps by physical location of work or home; something or someone making us afraid of rejection and emotional pain; or just plain ole being too busy.
- clinical depression
- suicidal thoughts and behaviors
- sleep disturbances
- high blood pressure, BMI, and cholesterol, stress hormones
- decreased immune functions
- poor decision making, attention, concentration
- as large a risk for shorter life as smoking
- contagious: spending time with lonely people can increase your loneliness
- highly neglected injury which increases its potential for damage
And things get worse when we develop protective / self-hiding attitudes (distrust, suspicion, cynicism, anxiety) and behaviors that atrophy our people-connection muscles.
And the cumulative effect will be less and less energy for growth and change. Over time, you may totally run out of gas and lose the capacity for responding to life's challenges and opportunities. Wouldn't you rather head in the opposite direction to be a life long learner who continues to mature in wisdom and grace?
So embrace these attitudes for an energy-growing, relationship muscle-building perspective:
And regularly engage in these fundamental exercises:
- We aren't at fault for our fears but our behaviors might be adding to our hurt.
- Challenge our established perspectives
- Take emotional risks
- Be brave
Get more and deeper explanations and examples with Emotional First Aid by Guy Winch.
- Challenge / battle negative perceptions
- Remove negatively tinted glasses by fighting the pessimism; purposefully visualize scenarios of success that are reasonable and realistic in order to be able to identify connection opportunities.
- Identify self-defeating behaviors
- Think back to less than stellar social/relationship events and identify 3 behaviors
- Bravely and mindfully renounce them.
- Keep list handy and review before times of connection / social events.
- Deepen emotional bonds: Empathize
- Visualize yourself in another's situation in an immersive manner: go to the unnatural space of imagining the other’s feelings to capture the other’s emotional landscape; then returning to our own, convey insights thoughtfully.
- What fears, doubts, hopes, might they have for their situation?
We can be alone and not lonely and we can be lonely though not alone. Being alone can be restorative but being lonely is toxic. And the less we have of it, regardless of age, the more energy we will have for positive growth and development.
Ready to elevate your leadership, strategy, commitment and execution to move forward and upward? Book a complimentary 30-60 minute session and let's chat.