Recently someone posted this question in the introvert subreddit on reddit:
“How to deal with half wanting new friends and half wanting to be a hermit?”
I hear and read questions like this all the time from introverts and introverted HSPs. We cherish being alone, and then sometimes wonder if we can get along without worrying about having relationships. After all, relationships are time consuming, difficult, and can be painful.
But then we often realize that we cannot exist alone. It might seem easier to avoid relationships, but it is bad for our mental and physical health. Humans were built to need and thrive on connection with others.
A Vice.com interview with Amy Banks, PhD, titled, “An Expert Explains Why You Feel So Lonely All the Time” really piqued my interest in this topic. I loved Dr. Banks’ scientific explanation of why having quality relationships is so important.
Dr. Banks was an instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and is now the Director of Advanced Training at Jean Baker Miller Training Institute at the Wellesley Centers for Women. Her newest book is called Wired to Connect: The Surprising Link Between Brain Science and Strong, Healthy Relationships.
She has devoted her career to studying the neurobiology of relationships and how our social interactions shape our brains. She treats patients who suffer from “chronic disconnection”—which is the result of years of focusing on individual success and neglecting relationships.
In this episode, we talk about:
- The health impact of loneliness and disconnection
- Why American society values the “do-it-alone” mindset so strongly
- The dopamine reward system and relationships
- Online bullying
- How a boss or manager can use good relationships to improve the workplace
- Connections with animals
- And….communism?!? (Note: communism is discussed simply for the concept of community vs. individualism. We are not saying we want to live in a communist society!)
Amy recommends that those looking to improve their relationships first take her free Relational Assessment.
Other books recommended by Dr. Banks in this episode:
- Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert Putnam
- Love and Survival: 8 Pathways to Intimacy and Health by Dean Ornish