Aristotle once said that human beings are social animals and although this was said many, many years ago, it may as well have been said yesterday. Some of the environments that humans live in are different to how they were in the past, but this hasn’t changed the fact that humans need each other.
They don’t just need each other in order to survive; they also need each other in order to thrive. It is then not just a matter of survival; it is also about their ability to function at their best.
If one has always been around others, they might not realise how much they need them. This is because they have always been there and one doesn’t know any different. However, if one was to spend time by themselves and to live in complete isolation, they would soon realise how much they needs others.
It would be the same if one was to stop eating for a short time, they would soon start to feel hungry. And if they allowed time to continue to pass without eating, it wouldn’t be long until they were malnourished.
What this comes down to is that human beings are interdependent, and while some people may try to live without others, their life is going to be greatly diminished. There are going to be times when people want to be by themselves, but this is not the same as if they were to spend the majority of their life by themselves.
One’s sense of self for instance, is similar to a plant in that it needs the right nutrients in order to exist. If one was to pour oil onto a plant, it would soon die off; just as if one started to spend their time by themselves or around people who invalidated them, their sense of self would start to erode.
There are certain films where the characters are independent of their environment and one of those is superman. He is not governed by the same laws that human beings are and yet when he is around kryptonite, he starts to lose himself.
Human beings on the other hand will begin to lose themselves if they are around the wrong people or if they were to spend too much time by themselves. And like a seed that needs the right conditions in order to grow, one’s sense of self also needs the right conditions.
If one had to be around someone in order to feel good, they would be labelled as being dependent but if they didn’t reach out to others when they felt bad, they would be labelled as being counter dependent. Ideally, one will reach out to others when they can’t regulate themselves.
Yet, just because one has the ability to regulate themselves, it doesn’t mean they won’t need others. And this is because one’s nervous system will be regulated through being around others. Through being in the presence of others, one can end up feeling better.
The Monkey Mind
So if one spends too much time by themselves, it is then not going to be much of a surprise if they start to feel down or depressed. As one’s nervous system can be regulated through being around others, it is not only going to have a positive impact on how they feel, it is also going to affect how they think.
When one is around others, it is generally going to mean that their attention is divided between what is taking peace within them and what is taking place without. But if one is by themselves, their mind can come up with all kinds of things and it is going to be a lot harder for one to take a step back, and to see what reflects reality and what doesn’t.
Being around others is vital but it is not a case of anyone will do; as one could be around the wrong people and end suffering, just as they would if they spent too much time by themselves. So as there are so many benefits to being around others, it can be hard to understand why someone would isolate themselves from others.
However, as humans are hard-wired to be around others, when they avoid others it is going to be a clear sign that something is not right. One is experiencing inner conflict and this is stopping them from reaching out to others.
One thing that can cause one to isolate themselves from others is toxic shame. When one is carrying toxic shame within them, they are going to feel the need to hide. For if they were to be seen, it could cause others to realise how worthless they are and to therefore abandon them.
As one feels this way, they are going to be out of touch with their need to connect and focused on doing everything they can to protect themselves from others. They are going to feel as though they are less-than others and that there is something inherently wrong with them.
Although this might be normal for them and how they have experienced life for quite some time, they weren’t born this way. There would have been a time in their life where they experienced some kind of abuse and while this could have been during their adulthood, it is likely to be what happened during their childhood that had the biggest effect on them.
During these early years, one could have experienced some kind of abuse and this could have been: verbal, physical, emotional and/or sexual. This then left them with the outlook that they don’t belong in the world and as they are so flawed, they had better hide in order to avoid further humiliation.
In the beginning, one would have felt as though there was something wrong with them and as time passed, it would have become their identity. It was then no longer a feeling or a belief; it permeated their whole being.
This means that on one hand, one will need to face and release the emotional pain that they have carried for all these years, and on the other, they will need to be affirmed by others. If one was only affirmed, it might not go in and that’s because of how they feel, but as these feelings are dealt with, it will be easier for one to see that there is nothing wrong with them. One can be assisted here with the support of a therapist, healer and/or a support group.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.