Connections - We Need Them, Yet…

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CONNECTIONS: WE NEED THEM, YET…
By Sarah Elliston

 

On this episode of Big Blend Radio’s Quality of Life show, Sarah Elliston, author of “Lessons from a Difficult Person – How to Deal With People Like Us,” discusses the power of human interactions and connectivity. 

 

 

“No man is an island,” is a famous line from a poem by John Donne.  He teaches us that every person needs other people in order to be human.  We need to be connected in order to be really alive.

 

Dr. Patch Adams revolutionized the practice of medicine by using humor to help people heal.  In the movie about him, a compelling scene is one where he enters a room of sick children all lying in their hospital beds, silent, sleeping or crying.  He asks one of them her name and proceeds to use the medical equipment as a clown and within minutes all the children are sitting up, engaged, laughing and connected. Humor stimulates endorphins that improve healing and creates connections.

When challenged by authorities about his actions, being told, “These are sick people,” he responded, “They weren’t feeling sick just then.”

William Glasser, founder of Choice Theory, verifies that humans are born with genetic imperatives in our brains.  These are explained as needs to belong and feel loved, as well as have fun, feel a sense of achievement and freedom and to physically survive.  “The most important,” Glasser states, “is the need to feel connected, belonging; to feel that we matter to someone and that someone matters to us.”

Certainly, Patch Adams brought the feeling of connected to his patients as well as the opportunity to have fun and feel a sense of freedom.

If we don’t have Patch Adams in our lives, do we have good connections?  Are we losing them?  Does the Internet keep us isolated or does it increase our connections?  And what kind of connections does it bring?

Some people use the Internet to meet others:  I know of a couple who met through an on-line dating site, fell in love and married with great success.  But I also know of people who met and married and found that it did not work out. 


There are many ways to connect online:  I have found fellow French speakers on line and made some new friends.  I keep in touch with cousins and many friends who feel like family through the variety of platforms.  It appears that Twitter has become instrumental in influencing politicians and others who respond to public pressure as well as connecting people to new and old friends. 


It is possible to go online when faced with insomnia, and find interesting music, informational articles, and even other sleepless people with whom to chat.  The opportunities to connect on line seem endless.


Will these connections meet the need for belonging and feeling a part of something?  Does it lead to the engagement of which Patch Adams spoke? 


One example in my life is a woman who joined an informational class that met on a platform where participants called in and could participate with cameras and microphones, or merely listen to the leader and the group. The class met every week and for the first three weeks, she merely listened.  She emailed the leader with feedback, expressing positive impacts.  On the fourth week she turned on her microphone and asked questions and after 5 weeks, she turned on her camera so we could see her. 


Having watched and listened to us for 5 weeks and having heard the questions and answers for 5 weeks, she decided that we were friendly and she would not be harmed.  An interesting approach.  Of course, we all feel more connected to her because she deemed us trustworthy.

Another example is a group email I received recently from a school chum whose adult son is terminally ill.  Her wise and tender reflections and the myriad compassionate responses from group members reminded me of how lucky I am that I went to school with these women and how strong our ties are to each other.

Connections are important and the Internet helps develop them but most experts on the subject remind us that we need to follow up with personal connections whenever possible.

I use the Skype feature to talk weekly with my granddaughter, age 5, who lives in another city. It makes me feel part of her life and her activities.  I have been rewarded by her knowing who I was when I met her at the airport when she was 3.  She knew me and was not shy or worried about the strange woman wanting to hug her.  I don’t often get the chance to hug her for real and I know our connection is strong because of the Internet.

Today, John Donne might have written a poem saying, “Nobody is fulfilled through solely cyber connections but they can enrich and augment in-person connections for healthier lives.” 

Sarah Elliston is the author of “Lessons from a Difficult Person – How to Deal With People Like Us”. A faculty member of the William Glasser Institute, Sarah is a highly successful workshop leader and trainer, who is certified in Values Realization, Parent Effectiveness Training and Reality Therapy. www.SarahElliston.com

 

 

 

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About the Author:

Sarah Elliston is the author of “Lessons from a Difficult Person – How to Deal With People Like Us”. A faculty member of the William Glasser Institute, Sarah is a highly successful workshop leader and trainer, who is certified in Values Realization, Parent Effectiveness Training and Reality Therapy.

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