Connecting is a way of building and retaining our sense of identity

 

Connecting with the people around us creates a slightly revised sense of self, every time we do it: talking to your family reminds you that you are their ‘someone’, connecting with friends can be the same, and connecting with colleagues or your peers will make you identify with that part of yourself which is interested in and committed to the work that you do.

It seems to matter to our own wellbeing that we made the effort, and touched someone.

Connecting with neighbours is great because this also connects you with a sense of place – you live alongside each other in whatever place it is – they experience some of the same sights and sounds that you encounter. This brings you back to who you are – it places you somewhere in that web of relationships which summarise our lives.

How much time should you spend developing relationships?

What is ‘reaching out’ and what is overkill? Nobody tells you that – and this is because there is no particular answer until you start making those connections. This is a dynamic thing – someone you try to connect with will be delighted you tried, others might be indifferent.

So be it.

But until you know who will react in what way you can’t take a view about how much time to allocate to connecting.

This is a way of ‘returning to yourself’, of re-asserting your presence in your own inner space.

So many of us are defensive – Why should it be me, who makes that move?  Will you look like you are over-keen? We all know the expression ‘looking needy’.Oh, I don’t want to do that!! What will people think?

Actually these concerns don’t matter.  Far from thinking about you, most people have their lives full of inputs from all over the place – they simply don’t have time to speculate as to your inner life. What does it matter if you are momentarily in need for connection?  That is perfectly human.  It is equally perfectly human to be too busy to reply right away.  Accept both as a feature of life in the age of social media. The thing is, if someone is ungenerous by nature, you can’t get a good word out of them – they will always carp.  There is much to learn from the old saying ‘we see ourselves reflected in the people around us’.

I complained once about a contact rebuffing me – my friend said ‘oh, don’t write them off; this is just not the moment for them to connect with you’

What a wonderful philosophy, I thought.

I never let it worry me anymore.  Do you?  Your thoughts about the advantages and pitfalls of connecting would be most welcome.

If you need help in improving your sense of wellbeing our own National Health Service has a webpage of advice.  Learn more in Connect for mental wellbeing.