I was challenged this week as to where my focus is – is it in the differences between others and myself and proving myself right at all cost? Or is it in recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other? I had to become very quiet within and then read the following quote – “The choices we are making to protect our beliefs and ourselves are leaving us disconnected, afraid and lonely”.
As people seek out the social settings they prefer – as they choose the group that makes them feel the most comfortable – our nation and globally we grow more segregated and the benefit that ought to come with having a variety of opinions, is lost to the righteousness that is the special entitlement of homogeneous groups.
We sort ourselves into like-minded groups in which we consume only facts that support our beliefs. This sorting leads us to make assumptions about the people around us, which in turn fuels disconnection. And our behavior always drives one of two stories – either connection or disconnection. As a social species our brain and biology have been shaped for connection and it matters. It is why we are also wired for belonging.
However never in the history has society been so “sorted”, lonely and disconnected. Why? FEAR. Fear of vulnerability, fear of getting hurt, fear of the pain of disconnection, fear of criticism and failure, fear of conflict, fear of not measuring up. FEAR.
Fear drives disconnection which leads to us becoming fractured, isolated and driven by our perceptions of not being enough. This prevents conversations, understanding, and leads to “I want to do this my way”, “I do not care about your opinion”, and eventually “I do not care about you”.
As fear hardens, it expands and becomes less of a protective barrier and more of a solidifying division. It forces its way down in the gaps and tears apart our social foundation, already weakened with those delicate cracks.
Our lack of tolerance for vulnerable, tough conversations is driving our self-sorting and disconnection. Thank you to my husband, who did not shy away on Thursday morning from such a vulnerable tough conversation which left me initially storming out of the house with the attitude of “I do not want to hear” but he hit the nail on the head in his caring compassionate way of doing – some of my behavior was filled with sorting people and not driving connection, which I so believe in.
How do we find our way back to each other? True belonging has no bunkers – We have to step out from behind the barricades of self-preservation and brave the wild – Brene Brown.
I have realised that I am inextricably connected as a human being to everyone else and if that is my focus – that my humanity is bound up in yours – we will move away from fear, isolation and can build healthy families, communities and society.