Don’t Dance Alone
I have just spent an hour surfing around social media, blog posts and thinking. One of the things that is now firmly in mind is how many humans dance alone and how many more find themselves doing so in these challenging times.
A post by a pharmacist relating his “challenging” week at the pharmacy raised a lot of questions about apparent selfish attitudes of some customers. Added to that, other healthcare worker’s experiences of last week have cast shadows on an already tough time. It seems that people are putting out a hand expecting to be given whatever it is they want and have little or no intention of giving to help others. It reminds me of the saying, “charity starts at home”.
I wonder if it would be better to erase the negative connotations of that dated saying and write, “connections” start at home instead. Psychological research evidence shows that all humans have the need to belong to a group and feel close to others. These “social connections” are essential to feeling satisfied with life.
Certain behaviors some of us have witnessed recently may well be found in people who find themselves disconnected and these are amplified due to the challenging times of social distancing that lead some people to feel greater isolation and loneliness than usual. Add in the fear factor and we have a powder keg of emotion.
The Human Connection
Loneliness often causes people to feel empty and unwelcome. People who are lonely often crave human contact, but their state of mind makes it complicated to form positive connections with other people. According to research, loneliness is not necessarily about being alone. Feeling alone and isolated is a state of mind and our experience reflects and amplifies our thoughts, feelings and beliefs.
Quality Not Quantity
There is evidence that it is not the quantity of social interaction that challenges loneliness, but it’s the quality.
Three or four close friends is enough to keep loneliness at bay and reduce the negative health consequences associated with this difficult state of mind.
Loneliness Can Be Catching
In a ten-year study, researchers examined how loneliness spreads in social networks. Results indicated that people close to someone experiencing loneliness were 52% more likely to become lonely themselves.
People often feel alone when they might be seen by others as part of a group like a university dorm hall or military unit. There are many situational variables and some of these can lead to depression and further social isolation.
Loneliness can also be recognized in internal factors like low self-esteem. People with low confidence in themselves are often unable to believe that they are worthy of attention or regard of other people. This often leads to isolation, loneliness and several physical and mental health risks, not limited to the following.
- Increased stress levels
- Uncharitable social behavior
- Challenged decision-making
- Alcoholism and drug abuse
According to a 2018 survey conducted by The Economist and the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), 22% of adults in the United States and 23% in the United Kingdom say they constantly or frequently feel lonely, lack friendship, or feel left out or isolated. That’s 29 million adults in the UK and US combined and reliance on the Internet and paradoxically, social media, are partly to blame.
The UK Office for National Statistics reports that Well-being is low for 25 – 64-year olds who live alone and the numbers are rising. By 2039, the number of one-person households is expected to rise to 10.7 million.
Of course, not all the people living alone experience loneliness. They don’t suffer because they know how to find dance partners. They don’t have painful feelings of loneliness because they are able to look at their reality objectively and develop the connections they need to sustain their well-being.
“Almost all painful feelings have their source in an incorrect way of looking at reality. When you uproot erroneous views, suffering ceases.”
(The Buddha, as written by Thich Nhat Hanh)
Over-simplified by The Buddha perhaps, although the intention is honorable. If we leave people to dance alone, they may well develop erroneous views about self; their mirrors reflect their views and loneliness develops into something other and affects their behavior.
Ask Somebody To Dance
Since social distancing began, many people have commented on what a wonderful opportunity this is to re-connect with everything positive about being human. We also have another opportunity here to ask people to dance. Nobody needs to dance alone.
Tools That Help
Relating to these there are plenty of tools that can help with your Personal Growth and Development whether you feel lonely or not. If you would like a free 20-minute coaching session on some of these, please leave your contact details in the comments and you will receive a prompt response.
There are many ways to effectively explore and advance your Personal Development in any area of life that matters to you. A box of tools to challenge the boundaries and move forward toward realizing success is extremely beneficial.
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Comments and Questions
Leave yours below. Your thoughts or questions may well ignite a positive spark in other readers thinking. You will always receive a prompt response to your questions and there is no such thing as a bad question; only the one that was never asked.
I bow to the place in you that is love, light, and joy
Peace & Light
Steve Costello is a British Community & Youth Studies and Psychology honors graduate with over 30-years theoretical and practical experience in the Personal Development public and private sectors. He founded ExGro in 2018 with business partner, friend and clinical psychologist, Leo Faerberg.
5 thoughts on “Dance Alone”
Hi Steve. This post describes how I felt much of my life, disconnected, and I was surprised to see the stats, I’d have thought the figure was lower. Feeling connected eluded me, despite my craving it. Back then there was little about mental health and the signs were missed.
At 13, I discovered alcohol and the next 17 years were spent ‘on the run’ and in the dark. I ran from the feelings you spoke about. I thought changing jobs, ‘friends’, relationships, towns and even countries would fix how I felt. None of it worked.
I failed to see that which I longed for, began inside. Putting down alcohol and learning to live without was tough but well worth the pain. Learning to love myself, warts and all, was even harder.
Becoming vulnerable again to allow love in was my only hope, but I couldn’t do it alone, I had to trust someone. The universe sent me a therapist that I, for the first time ever, trusted. This person had much the same values you do, Steve. Compassionate and practical, to mention a few.
Your posts help keep me on track, and for that I am grateful.
Hello Ger. Thank you for sharing your powerful story and also for providing hope for people who may also find themselves in dark and challenging places as you have been. There is always a light beyond the tunnel although it may start out as the tiniest of pin-pricks. I’m so pleased that you found yours and very grateful for your positive comments.
Your very welcome Steve.
Thank you for your kind and prompt response, much appreciated 🙂
A very useful article during this trying times.
The world is getting gloomy day by day but it also about how we perceive these challenges that will determine how quickly we find solutions and how we cope with these challenges while we search for answers.
Solitude is necessary if we are to connect with the core of our beings as you highlighted that “connection begins at home” We meet the world as deeply as we’ve met ourselves and we emit what already exist in us. Therefore quality is more important than quantity as you’ve alluded.
To keep the balance we also need to build relationships as no man is an island and ” no one can dance alone”
Living too much in the outside world can temper with our fundamentals and clog the lens though which we view the world and how we deal with it ( behavioral patterns).
When our psyche is misplaced, we lose confidence, and this result in low self esteem and distorted perception which stem from the erroneous beliefs.
This is just an opinion and you are the expert Steve. Your post is spot on just when we need it the most given what we are currently sorrounded with.
Thank you for your wonderful thoughts Maggie. There is indeed a sense of gloominess out there right now and more so than we might usually see. My take on that is that if we see gloomy, we get gloomy. If we see joy and light, we get those and increasing our vibration has a positive effect on the people around us. As challenging as that may seem, it has to be the way. In doing so we offer quality to ourselves and others. None of us are islands although we may feel that way through social distancing yet we have opportunities to connect thanks to the power of the Internet. Watch out for a post on this soon. Your opinions are highly valued. Thank you. Stay safe. Steve