"Just because no one else can heal or do your inner work for you, doesn't mean you can, should, or need to do it alone" Lisa Olivera, therapist, and writer.
As we recognise mental health week, the goal is to connect. Poor mental health can make a person lonely and loneliness can affect someone’s mental health. In today’s world of social media and isolation, how can we connect?
Every human needs connection and community for mental wellness. Also, building that community around you is not easy. We all shy away from initiating friendships, sharing, and being vulnerable with other people.
Levels of Building Community
In the past generations, people lived in communities; being in each other's lives. The increased isolation today has created more loneliness and poorer mental health. It's simple; we're social beings. We need to connect and share to stay healthy.
A community always offers support, a sense of belonging, and a purpose. You have different levels of friendship and community you need around you; acquaintances, village, and inner circle.
Acquaintances are generally people you have come across in your life. An average person comes across around 600 people. People you generally know a little more but you may meet occasionally are around the 200 people mark.
A village is built from acquaintances. It may be composed of about 20 to 40 people that you see often; colleagues, classmates, and people in your gym class, at worship, or your kid's teacher. Here’s how you can start building a village around you:
· Join a book club or start one
· Volunteer and charity work
· Join a Gym
· Attend Events and parties
· Visit your community centre
· Join a dance class
Giving yourself many chances to interact with people in your village, gives you an opportunity to identify people who are craving deeper connection. This is where you get your inner circle (best friends). The inner circle is composed of about 3 people whom you can know every detail of their lives and you can share with your life as well.
The way to get best friends and grow in friendships is through vulnerability. At this stage you have to start sharing more about your struggles. When you’ve vulnerable, the other person will feel comfortable enough to share their struggles with you too. You can be there for each other.
Be the Initiator
The village is already around you. When you join those social groups and gatherings, you just need to lift your head and greet them. Initiate a conversation.
When you find common interests, invite people for lunch or tea. From this village, you’ll find people interested and looking for meaningful connections, just like you.
This week challenge yourself to be the initiator; you have more to gain than to lose. Soon you’ll be showing us how much connection has changed your life.