When the U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, was asked what the biggest disease in America was, he stated: “It’s not cancer, it’s not heart disease, it is the pronounced isolation that so many people are experiencing that is the great pathology of our lives today.”1 Thomas L. Friedman, Pulitzer prize-winning author and journalist with The New York Times, stated: “How ironic, we are the most technologically connected generation in human history, and yet more people feel more isolated than ever. The connections that matter most and that are most in short supply today are the human-to-human ones.”
I want to offer some thoughts and some hope about a process I think we are all undergoing. On the one hand, we see disruption all around us. Unsustainable systems are collapsing, resulting in an acceleration of the breakdown of our community, social, economic and political infrastructure; which, for some, leads to a fear-based amplification of prejudice and fear and a clinging to isolation and silo or wall-building.
On the other hand, however, increasingly people feel a deep sense of purpose that is activating our greatest gifts. We sense that something new, hopeful and empowering is in the process of emerging. Apparently, we need to burn through some darkness before we collectively see the light. The light is a palpable shift toward reaching for human connection; toward opening our hearts and our minds and intentionally focusing on the positive future that wants to emerge. We engage our curiosity, compassion, and courage and reconnect with our shared humanity. People are stepping up, sharing their vulnerability and wisdom and embodying a renewed sense of empowered, cooperative leadership. This is the elevation of our shared humanity.
We are increasingly engaged and experiencing profound social and personal transformation. We are realizing our essential nature and reaching for human connection within and beyond ourselves and realizing that there is nothing to fight against. We are directly engaging in co-innovating and evolving to a more just humanity and a more sustainable democracy.
Moving from the 40,000 foot perspective to an on-the-ground, personal perspective, what does this mean?
Human beings have been making war for a long time in many cultures, meaning in many minds, because the culture is a reflection of the mind. It is noteworthy to state here that there is clear and compelling historical evidence that when matrifocal societies dominated the planet there was no evidence of war. However, in our current patrifocal societies, there is no escaping the damage of war — whether we are aware of the damage or not.
I am coming to a clearer understanding that when I am not at peace in my own mind, I am waging an internal war and that war is projected onto others whether I am aware of broadcasting this or not.
The war in my head (judgment, wall building) can be framed around a variety of battles — it can be framed around the ancient and false belief that I am not good enough or smart enough, or if that other person would do something correctly or if this condition or that condition were met then all would be worked out and peaceful. I have constructed a story that tints the lens through which I see myself, others, our relationships, and the world.
If I remain unaware of how I have tinted the lens, and I remain stuck in the fear-based story, the conditions for peace will not be met. Peace is revealed in the absence of war — in the absence of isolation, fear, the illusion of separation and judgments.
If we look more deeply, we can see that the source of this war comes from the belief that we are some thing that is separate from others. This lesson that we are taught from an early age, this sense of separation and human disconnection, is so pervasive and integrated into the threads of our culture that it makes it hard to see. This experience of human disconnection, a separation of self from self and self from others, is a fundamental concept in both trauma-informed practice and in Emotional CPR (eCPR). The impact of trauma and human disconnection played out in my own early childhood, for example, by my experiencing such a profound lack of safety that it resulted in my clinging to anyone who offered safety and anything that could numb the pain.
Another result of the belief that we are some thing and this thing is separate from each other is that we get focused on protecting this thing. Whatever the thing is — our territory, our home, our family — we protect it and hold onto fear, anger and revenge, and we wait for someone else to do something differently so that we think we can find peace.
Our tinted lens reinforces the idea that that other person is different — separate from me. And this separation perpetuates conflict and war. It perpetuates the war in my head which perpetuates the war I wage with others. Inner war creates global war.
When I am practicing eCPR or genuine human connecting I am looking not from the lens of ego but from a deeper level. Meaning, I am not judging nor labeling but rather seeing the reality (under the illusion) which is that there is nothing to protect. I focus on perceiving the other person in their full humanity. The distress the person is expressing is a particular patterned way that this person’s internal war has escalated. As a supporter or listener I focus on being with them on a genuine level and assisting them in finding what is true or genuine about themselves — meaning what is deeper than the social mask they have identified as being them but is not the genuine them; it is the learned them, the ego.
I do this by seeing the genuine person underneath her lens, underneath the social conditioning, underneath her story. And when we do this we are perceiving or ‘being’ underneath our own lens. From this place, where peace is revealed in the deep connection of two people, I mirror back the best I see in her, my great hope for her, my belief in her, my knowing that together, in this moment, we will move through this.
For more on this process, see: “When the war in our mind ends, peace emerges.”
We are born and innately wired for human connection. It is a simple process but often it is not easy. If you focus and put your intention on it you will re-find it; it will emerge. Here is a beautifully simple example of a stranger successfully reaching for another person: “When Train Riders Moved Away From Passenger, This Woman Held His Hand.”
I end with two simple and eloquent quotes from Albert Einstein: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” and “The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth.”
- Club Business International (CBI), October 2017 ↩
We certainly are isolated, Lauren. I was hoping this article had some practical advice on how to reduce isolation/foster human interaction. Information like that is hard to find. 🙁
The article does have practical information on enhancing our connection to self and others, and therefore feeling more tuned in to the human web – the universal human tapestry. I suggest you re-read the blog with a hopeful perspective, perhaps an open-hearted perspective and definitely read the blog “When the war in our mind ends, peace emerges”.
Are you ready to feel connected? It is not an easy process. In fact it is some of the hardest work I have ever done. Feeling connected, more than anything else, has changed my life. There is a lot of free information out there (web) on it. Clearly, you need to find what best resonates with you. I wish you well. Feel free to email me if you want more info.
Again, talking like people are suffering from some sort of an illness. Nothing good will ever come from this.
I hope you have gotten some rest. I do not look through a lens of illness, nor do I believe this blog is about illness.
The quote from the blog (copied below) came from a Pulitzer prize-winning author and journalist with The New York Times. I happen to agree with him.
“How ironic, we are the most technologically connected generation in human history, and yet more people feel more isolated than ever. The connections that matter most and that are most in short supply today are the human-to-human ones.”
I also believe in the vast power of the human mind to heal, to create connections, to create peace.
Thank you for writing
Thank You Lauren,
This subject is quite topical right now.
I hope nobody shoots me for saying this, but I think its an inside job.
I don’t mean this in a hard luck way at all. What I mean is that a person can find contentment within themselves, and this can put them in a good position to meet the world.
“No man is an island.” John Donne.
I’m lonely as heck right now. My friends all live hundreds of miles from me and aren’t returning my calls. Busy with jobs, families, or out of minutes.
No reliable transportation; strange city; hard to meet anyone with no regular job; and my family is treating me worse than ever so being around them much is toxic.
I’m comfortable with myself, but humans weren’t meant to live in total isolation. If I’m with a friend I’m with myself as well, so calling it “lack of self love” is a gross oversimplification.
I’m sorry. It’s not too hard to find society where I am so I take it for granted maybe. But when I was younger i experienced loneliness in groups (and even in relationships). Now I feel reasonable.
It’s okay. Not totally alone. Part of it is the painful withdrawal I’m still experiencing. By September of 2018 I may feel well enough to take a part in my community. Hard to run around and socialize when you feel like you have the flu 90% of the time. 🙁
Right! Finding peace in our own mind is, I believe, the key. It is about changing our perspective. It is about being hopeful. It is about feeling connected – to self and to others which I think go hand in hand; they reinforce each other. The more deeply I feel connected within myself the easier it is for me to connect with others – to respect them, their perspective- and to build bonds. It is the human bonds after all that change the world.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Lauren. I agree, we do live in a society with too much isolation. I absolutely agree with you that our world would be a much better place if the paternalistic rule were ended, along with all the satanic systems the men set up (like the child abuse covering up psychiatric “system” and the military industrial complex with its never ending, unjust, wars of aggression). And I hope some day the wisdom of women is actually listened to, heard, understood, and women are some day actually treated with respect.
I agree with Albert, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” All the more reason to place respect in the wisdom of women, as opposed to continue to unsuccessfully try to solve our problems with the same paternalistic thinking of the men who created the problems. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are good and evil men. We just need the good men and women to be allowed to take control, rather then continuing to allow the evil to rule the world.
“The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth.” Truly, truth is important, and unfortunately we’re living in a time of staggering misinformation, you know, things like “Fake news,” and of course all the fraud within today’s “mental health industry.” And beauty and kindness are generally considered to be assets of the feminine of our species, thus one more reason for true and honest respect of the wise women within our society. God bless, Lauren.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. If you don’t mind me making a suggestion, I would love for you to read my blog “When the war in our mind ends, peace emerges”. Also, I question whether “good” and “evil” exist or if it is a story we keep repeating. I look through rosy glasses. I REALLY believe in empowerment – on so many levels. Our world is what we create it to be. No Limits – except the ones we impose on ourselves.
Yep. Isolation kills, alright. It’s stunning how much we’ll sacrifice (our very lives!), just to avoid one major cost of connection – ACCOUNTABILITY. Terrific article, Ms. Spiro!
Thank you so much. I try to plant seeds, to share what I have learned – and I am always learning!!!
peace to you J
I have really struggled with your article. Part of me wonders how in the world you believe a romanticized version of feminism will fix everything. You certainly don’t support that contention in any way. I’d rather see a different kind of feminism that sees men and women as true equals and understands that only TOGETHER can we fix the problems we have all made instead of the ‘patrifocal’ strawman you have created.
But beyond that, part of me loves your main thesis and wishes your 40,000-foot perspective was correct, but I simply don’t see it down here in reality. I wish you well. I’ve used attachment theory to help my wife heal from d.i.d., but all my attempts to share what I’ve learned about the power of human connections has been met with very mixed responses and much of it has been on the negative or at least skeptical side of the spectrum. Maybe the messenger is the problem in my case, idk, but I think people prefer their little/big blue screens, their fast-food culture, their safe personal cocoons, and being masters of their own fate even if it’s a miserably lonely, dysfunctional fate because when we are truly connected to others we have to be willing to give up some of our autonomy ‘for the greater good’. And though I’m wiling to do that for my wife and son, even I am hesitant to do it on a larger scale…
Men and women need to work together. It’s about cooperation rather than competition. Demonizing all men is not the answer.
There are some truly evil mothers who emotionally abuse adult children–taking great pains to keep us isolated and dependent (entirely on them.) A lot of controlling women gravitate to work in the Mental Illness System like flies to rotting meat. The idea of Matriarchs Who Can Do No Wrong is unrealistic to say the least–especially for victims of a matriarchal dictator.
This sounds cruel, but if Mom weren’t in the picture, I know Dad would support my choice to go off psych drugs. He would be happy to read some of the anti-psychiatry literature. He would rather I be independent and well than trapped in a state of childish dependence. Not so with Mom!
I identify with you Feeling Discouraged,
Family are always dodgy. I love my own family dearly but they’re definitely dodgy.
Thank you for writing. I dont believe I posted about sexist duality. I dont take dualistic viewpoints. I know the high tide lifts all ships. Women will change the world to the extent that they work collaboratively with men and vice verse. We are not islands. We dont do it alone. Sure we can influence and be great leaders but ultimately we need everyone. We need each other, so I dont separate people into boxes which is part of creating war. I want peace peace. I work hard at creating it in my mind and creating it in all of my relationships. It is the hardest work I have ever done.
I gave up TV and fast food long ago. In fact I have made a lot of changes to live more aligned with my vision of the world. I am sure I will continue to make more changes, much of which is about opening my heart and my mind and reaching for connection and peace. It is there for those who seek it but it is not an easy journey. Well worth it though!!!!