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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.
You can get in touch with Amy on Twitter, Facebook, and check out her column on Psychology Today: Wired to Love
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
Podcast music attribution: Bust This Bust That (Professor Kliq) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
This was so well-timed for me. I’m an introverted HSP, and got so overloaded living in community that I moved out to the woods in a studio apartment. It takes me 15 minutes to get to a small town, driving, and then at least 45 minutes or an hour to get to larger concentrations of people. I thought it would be perfect for me but I’m lonelier than I’ve wanted to admit. I thought friends might visit me here, but they don’t regularly enough for that to be a bridge to connection. I’m trying to pick up partner dancing again, but that can be overwhelming, too, especially in a large group and then always knowing I’ll have this long drive home. Thanks, Dr Banks, for the relational assessment tool, as well!
I loved listening to this podcast! Thank you Kelly and Dr. Banks! I really learned a lot and had some very deep and long pondering questions answered. I especially loved the part where Dr. Banks talks about, just because you have HSP that doesn’t mean that you are sentenced to a life of reclusion. As an introverted HSP that meant a lot to me.
Hi Shelby, I’m so glad you found this helpful! Thanks for this sweet comment! 🙂
Thanks a lot for your podcasts,they are very helpfull. I also enjoyed this particular podcast. I am also high sensitive and I am an introvert as well. But I also enjoy being in a community helping one another. And enjoying downtime with my fiancee or a lone at the same time.
I also want to respond to the comment you made regarding the trend that less people chose to have kids nowadays particulary western countries. I believe that it is true. But I do not agree that this is because of ‘selfish’ motives (Or focussing on their own personal development only) that people do not want to commit to other human beings. Because I know lots of people that prefer to be an uncle or aunt or focus on helping their community or society in many other ways too. So people without kids can lead ‘selfless’ lives as well and can be a huge blessing to their society,family,friends or community as well.
Great podcast.. Thank you