While many of us are familiar with feelings of isolation and loneliness, it’s a rare occurrence when everyone around the world feels these things at once. And yet, here we are: separated by distance, but together in our frustration, disappointment and grief.
At the root of much of our distress is our loss of connection—from one another, from nature, and from a greater sense of meaning in the world. We’re all grappling with this right now to different degrees and in different ways—so we might all benefit from taking a moment to consider the connections we once held dear (or took for granted) and how we might reestablish them moving forward.
Disconnection From Nature
While it’s true that human beings are more connected by and to technology than ever before, we’ve become woefully disconnected from nature. Social media and email help us to stay connected to one another, but they fail us when it comes to connecting with Mother Nature. Our communication with her has become a one-way street, to the point that our world is in peril.
After years of dwindling communication with Mother Nature, we’ve stopped understanding her. We impose our will on her; we don’t listen; we’re alarmed when she becomes capricious or unpredictable or doesn’t meet our expectations. We’ve long been too focused on what we need from her, and ignored what she needs from us.
Now, those in recovery know what happens when we treat our own nature in the same way. When we stop listening to our instincts and inner wisdom—when we eat when we’re not hungry, or refuse to eat when we are; when we keep pushing when we need to rest or pick up the remote when we need to move—conflict ensues. We know that to disregard the natural wisdom of our bodies (to deny or fight the natural process of aging) is to eventually forget that wisdom altogether.
Disconnection From Others
Distress also occurs when we disconnect from other people. In our relationships, we often say yes to what we don’t want or no to what we do want, for the sake of compromise or keeping the peace. We act like things are okay when they’re not, and this eventually makes it difficult to be our authentic selves while participating in the relationships meant to bring us joy and comfort. We isolate out of fear of abandoning ourselves at the doorstep of a relationship—and at the same time, we don’t know how to be respectful of our needs while also acknowledging the needs and feelings of others. This leads to a breakdown in communication; it turns it passive, or aggressive, or (perhaps the most disruptive of all) passive-aggressive.
Disconnection From Meaning
If you’ve also been feeling disconnected from meaning in your work, you’re not alone. Our culture encourages us to be practical—to go to school to earn credentials and degrees rather than to learn; to fill our lives with stuff instead of experiences. And yet, at the end of the day, when all we have is this stuff surrounding us, we feel disconnected from the why of it all. This is because we’ve disconnected from our inner guidance system—our emotions, our instincts, our intuition. But it doesn’t need to be that way.
What if you paused for a moment and asked:
What kind of work is most meaningful for you?
Who would you like to have a deeper relationship with?
How can you spend more time in nature?
In what ways can you shift your energy right now to better prioritize those needs, to create more balanced and beneficial connections?
Take some time to answer those questions for yourself. This is how you feed your soul.