Anglia Counselling therapist, Mike Lloyd, shares the fourth and final of a series of posts to help inform and guide us through this difficult period.
In these uncertain times of Covid-19, social unrest, fear and uncertainty with no end in sight we are all feeling something.
What a lot of people have found during lockdown is that a lack of human connection, meaning and purpose is lacking in their lives. Some may not even realise what they are missing, some may and are not sure what to do about it.
With an understanding of our psychological processes comes some relief. With continued effort, we can ultimately achieve our own “ideal.”
Connection, Meaning and Purpose
What do we mean by connection?
A straightforward definition of a ‘Connect[ion]’ in the Cambridge Dictionary follows:
“to feel close to someone or have a good relationship with them”
That definition really says it all. A connection is about having close friends, family members, intimate relations etc. All forms of connection are imperative for a balanced and healthy emotional life.
What do we mean by meaning and purpose?
“importance or value:”
Why connection, meaning and purpose are important for emotional well-being
Feeling close to someone and having a good relationship with them is as important as eating properly and exercising. One study has shown that a lack of social connection is a greater risk to poor overall health than obesity, high blood pressure and smoking. Having well developed and regular social connection improves the immune system and can increase the length and quality of our lives. Connection reduces anxiety and depression and leaves you less vulnerable to disease in general.
Over the years the number of close connections and quality time spent with those connections has steadily reduced. The internet and “social” media have exaggerated this problem. Real social connections are rarer than they were 20 years ago, and Covid-19 has made this even more of an issue today.
Having meaning and purpose is an evolutionary need for every human being. Meaning and purpose bring us satisfaction, reward, a sense of accomplishment and perhaps a step closer to your “ideal” life.
Some may say work provides meaning, and purpose, and that’s fine; however it must always remembered that putting all your meaning and purpose in one proverbial basket is not wise. It is important to have other aspects of our lives that create meaning and purpose in case one avenue becomes closed to us.
Meaning and purpose can be achieved with anything, a hobby, work, volunteering, family etc. Just be careful to ensure that you don’t achieve all of it from one thing.
Developing a connection isn’t always as easy as you would think. Think about making friends. Do you make friends easily, or do you struggle? Are you a social butterfly or socially awkward?
Developing connection isn’t easy for everyone, that being said it’s imperative for a well developed and resilient emotional life.
Connection with others is often about common interests. Think about that, think about what interests you. It could be reading, it could be music or it could be any number of other things.
In times like these, it’s nearly impossible to connect with people in person; however, we have a great tool that many of us didn’t have when we were younger. The Internet.
The Interest in full of book clubs, music appreciation clubs and a plethora of others. These methods of connection are proving effective in the time of Covid-19, online book clubs, meet-ups and much more are available only a Google search away.
Try it, you may surprise yourself.
Developing meaning and purpose?
Meaning and purpose and things many people don’t think of. Some just go through life never really developing a passion for anything meaningful and derive their meaning and purpose from work, other people and many other things.
In order to develop an effective and resilient emotional life we all need, it’s important to develop meaning and purpose with something that you have control over. A job or other people can and do leave our lives. If all our meaning and purpose is derived from things that leave our lives then we are in a vulnerable position.
I can’t tell you what brings you meaning and purpose, but I can tell you some of mine by way of example:
- Being a therapist provides help to others, this brings reward, meaning and a purpose in life.
- Having been a musician since I was a child I still feel passionate about writing and performing music. It brings me a sense of reward, the purpose is to write good music and I find meaning from what I do. I hope the listeners do too, but it’s not why I do it.
Really think about what you love, what you love to do, what gives you meaning. It may be your vocation, like me or it may be something like gardening, art, running etc. Whatever it is it’s important to tap into that a develop it in order to bring sustainable and rewarding meaning and purpose in your life.
At the end of this series I’d just like to summarise what was discussed:
Crisis resolution and Management
I highlighted the importance of resolving existing emotional and/or mental health difficulties. The importance of seeking professional help when life simply gets too hard can’t be understated if you want to achieve emotional balance and wellness.
Managing Emotions Lifes ups and downs
The importance of recognising and managing our emotions and building resilience in more challenging times was discussed. We are driven by emotions, it’s important to be able to name them and understand how our emotions lead to behaviours.
Connection, Meaning and Purpose
Finding connection, meaning and purpose in our lives rounds off the three core discussion points in this series.