Embrace Connection: 100-Year-Old Toothpicks of Support
“I can’t people anymore today.” There’s no doubt in my mind that you’ve said this to yourself at some point in your life - probably in your own way I’m sure.
However, I want to remind you that there is a difference between being overwhelmed and overstimulated in a situation with people or the absence of people vs feeling a lack of meaningful connection in our lives.
The U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, just recently announced a new public health crisis: loneliness. Murthy states that because it impacts people of all ages and backgrounds, loneliness can increase the risk of depression, anxiety, and even physical health issues such as heart disease and weakened immune function…meaning it’s a REAL problem.
No seriously, it’s an actual problem. Research by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that social isolation and loneliness are associated with an increased risk of developing mental health disorders. Not only that, individuals who experience chronic loneliness tend to have higher rates of substance abuse, sleep disturbances, and cognitive decline.
Before you go down a dark spiral of the fear hole, just take a sec to take a deep breath. You’re reading this because you either know me or know YESyoga. Which hopefully means we are connected somehow in some way. The best part, opportunities for connection are limitless. You can find ways to create connections anywhere, whether it’s through work or through your passions, through your kid’s friend’s parents or your dog friend’s parents.
I want to add a big huge asterisk right here though, the point is meaningful connections - not people who you get to complain with about sh*t you choose to not change in your life when you have the power and the capacity to. Yeah, I said it. Sometimes, those friends can make us feel even more alone, because they aren’t actually supportive. Your friendship is being held up with 100-year-old toothpicks and any sort of wind/conflict will knock those little dudes down so fast. Being connected via bad or negative energy is not a true genuine connection.
I read this awesome book a while back called “How to break up with Your Friends” by Erin Falconer, and it’s about creating true friendship connections, realizing what you’re getting out of your friendships, what you are giving in your friendships, and yeah - breaking up with people too. In her book, she has you do a friend audit. You write down your friends and what value you get from the friendship. That was big, I knew I had a few missed connections - some of them I wanted to see, and others I chose to look the other way.
What’s interesting is that sometimes you don’t realize how lonely you really feel in a friendship/relationship until that friend is gone. I had a mentor sit me down and talk to me about one of my friends, she said, “They are a piano tied to your ankle, stop dragging them along because they are keeping you held back. Don’t you see every day is a fight?”
I did see, and I didn’t. I realized I’d rather be friends than be alone until we weren’t friends - then I realized I was alone and I’d rather not be friends.
When people ask me about entrepreneurship they’ll say, “What’s your advice for other entrepreneurs?” My answer is always “find people who will cheer you on, who are in the ring with you (Brené Brown), and who don’t see you as competition.” Finding those people create that sense of true connection and reminds you that you are not alone in this, and there are people who can sit at your table with you if you need it.
Whole body wellness is exactly this. It’s not just how you move your body, treat your body, fuel your body, and who you are in your body, it’s also about how you connect your body with others (eh, maybe I’ll need to rework that last line, but you get what I mean.) Purpose and intention matter when it comes to the how and why of your life. Creating connections can truly create nourishment for yourself.
*If you want to learn even more about loneliness and its impact, check out the book “Loneliness” by Johann Hari.