Reality Check: Essential Connections

When things are going well, some of us don’t feel a great need to seek out connections with others. We’re content to forge along and make our progress without a great deal of interaction.
When things are going badly however, there may be a stronger inclination to feel connected to a community of like-minded and good-spirited people. While it’s always comforting to know that you have people in your life who have your best interests at heart, it’s particularly helpful when you are feeling vulnerable.
Speaking of how things are going, what’s your perception? Are things getting better? Getting worse? Same old, same old?
Another question from my inquiring mind: Do you believe that your perception of how things are going is an accurate reflection of reality?
When something bad happens; we often take it in stride. Then something else bad happens. Uh oh! Then the third bad shoe drops, and now we’re feeling that we’re caught up in a streak of bad stuff. We look over our shoulders at every shadow, don’t want to pick up the phone, look at an email or even open a letter, lest it contain more bad news.
I don’t know the truth of whether bad luck comes in streaks, or for that matter, whether good luck comes in streaks. But it does seem that our perceptions are influenced after a few bad (or good) incidents.
Something else that influences our perceptions is the quality of our connections with others.
Now that we are experiencing yet another continuation of a state of emergency, I am detecting that some folks are seeing this as a streak, and that it is influencing perceptions. Ideally, those perceptions might spur actions such as increased care and concern for the wellbeing of others.
However, there are other perceptions too. There’s suspicion, especially of anyone who might have travelled. There’s fear of illness, of course. But there’s also fear about mental well-being, economic hardship, future prospects, both individually and for the province and country. There’s anger about what may be perceived as heavy-handedness in being told what one may and may not do. And there’s confusion about expected goals and how the future might unfold.
Another element that has some impact on our perception is whether we feel like we are in a challenging situation alone, or whether we are in it with others. The situation may be the same, but the “we’re all in this together” feeling does seem to make the challenges a bit more palatable.
The world is a complex place, and yet in some ways our human needs are also quite simple. We need air, water, food, shelter. Those are among what Dr. Glasser referred to as survival/security needs, and without them, we literally won’t survive.
Glasser also referred to other needs: among them a need for love and belonging; that need for connection with others. We need to know that we are part of some kind of group, even if it’s a group of only one other person. The need to be accepted, understood, and cared about is a basic need that’s stronger in some folks than others, but according to Glasser, it exists to some degree in all of us.
Any time our lives are disrupted, it’s helpful to feel that we are not completely alone. Our lives are certainly disrupted now, and it looks like the disruption won’t end any time soon.
Here’s my encouragement to you for this strange moment in time. Look around and see whether there is someone you know who could benefit from and appreciate a little extra human connection. Reach out. If you are a person who feels that you are completely alone, maybe you are not. Reach out.
Who might you reach out to?

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