The power of social connection cannot be overstated.
Social connection is a link or bond between people. It is when we recognize and acknowledge (with our being) other people and their beingness.
We recognize another person for their dreams, their wants, their hobbies, their inner child. We see them as a being, not as what they can do for us or what car they drive or what clothes they are wearing. We see them and they see us. We say, “hi, I am a being, I have wants and feelings and emotions, you do too, we are more alike than we think.”
In doing so we feel more connected to others and the world. We find fulfillment. The person we connect with will find fulfillment as well. They will feel comfortable and appreciated for who they are as a being. Social connection is a gift. It’s a feeling of belonging. It’s a sense of fulfillment. It’s what this whole life thing is really all about! It is feeling understood.
Quotes Regarding Social Connection
“Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” Brene Brown
“Social connection is the experience of feeling close and connected to others. It involves feeling loved, cared for, and valued, and forms the basis of interpersonal relationships.” Wikipedia
RELATED ARTICLE: 9 Ways to Stay Socially Connected While Physically Distant
Why It’s Important and How It Will Help You Live Your Best Life
Think of social connection like a support beam. When the world feels heavy and we feel like we can no longer carry such a large load, that support bean, that social connectedness, helps makes things feel lighter. We feel less alone. We start to feel like we can do this!
When we feel connected to the world and those around us, it’s like we grow roots. We walk on a more solid foundation, we feel some semblance of control and calm in an otherwise erratic and uncontrollable world.
Social connectedness and quality of life are closely intertwined. Social connection is a core human need. Starting with our connection with our caregivers when we are babies and is a constant need all throughout our lives.
Social connection is super important for life satisfaction. When we connect meaningfully with others we feel understood, like we belong and that we are appreciated, loved. We can feel less weird or that there are others out there like us, I promise you, there are!
When we connect and feel connected our physical and mental health benefit. It lowers anxiety and depression, regulates mood and emotions – there is a whole plethora of positives here.
What Social Connection Is (Examples)
Social connection doesn’t mean physical presence, and it doesn’t mean life long bonds.
There are many different levels of social connection and different ways that people can socially connect. Stronger bonds may give us life long benefits, but we gain benefits from every type of social connection.
We can socially connect with a stranger simply by saying “hi” as we walk past them. We don’t even need to vocally say hello and simply by smiling at someone we can connect with them. We say “hey, you’re a human, I’m a human, and I’m acknowledging your existence.”
Of course we want to be loved and understood and have stronger bonds that last our entire lives, and social connection includes that too, but sometimes being acknowledged is simply enough.
What I am trying to get at here is that you can socially connect even if you don’t have life long friends or strong connections with family. I understand sometimes it can feel upsetting or like we missed out when we don’t have a fried since grade school or strong family ties. But small connections can lead to larger ones, and it’s never too late to connect.
Social connection does not need to be a physical presence. We can socially connect while being physically distant. See some examples here.
What It’s Not (Examples)
Social connection is acknowledging another person and saying hi, it is also having strong bonds with family and friends. What it is not, is logging onto social media and comparing ourselves to other people and their curated and edited news feed, aka their highlight reel.
Social connection isn’t comparing ourselves to others we see in our lives. It also isn’t forcing connection or basing our value or worth on whether someone wants to connect with us. Sometimes we may find someone we find super interesting and want to connect but not everyone will want to connect. We should never chase someone or have to fight for friendship.
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Why Social Connection Is Important Now More Than Ever
When we are feeling anxious or depressed we may get the urge to disconnect from others but that can actually make us feel worse. Social connection is important because it can ground us. It can help us feel less alone and that there is hope in hopelessness.
2020 has been a wild ride. Even before this year the rates of depression, anxiety and suicide have been going up. It doesn’t takes a doctoral degree to realize that our lack of connecting is making us miserable.
The more we are disconnected the worse we feel. Life is hard enough as it is. We need to connect now more than ever so we can give ourselves a shot at finding happiness and live our best life.
How to Incorporate Social Connection Into Your Life
Simply put, we just need to make social connection a priority and have a want and will to connect. From there we can to seize opportunities we are given and also make opportunities to connect with others.
We can start by taking an inventory of our current connections. Do you have a family member or friend you’ve been meaning to check up on? Or maybe someone tried to contact you and you never got around to calling them back.
We can also be on the look out for opportunities to connect. Opportunties are all around us once we are open to them. We have the opportunity to socially connect anytime we communicate with another human being. That communication could be as simple as a smile and wave hello, or it can be a full fledge conversation.