HeartSphere Counseling, LLC Michele M. Preste, LMHC
Community – we hear that word mentioned often; yet, how many of us really think about that word when we hear or read it. Looking the word up on the internet leads to definitions like same, common, shared by all or many, a group of people living in the same place, having particular characteristics in common, or a feeling of fellowship due to shared beliefs, interests, or goals.
We can actually belong to multiple communities at the same time. Where you live may be a community. The circumstances of your life may define a community to which you belong. What you believe and do may also place you in other communities.
Communities provide us with an identity. We feel comfortable and safe when we are “in community” because we share something in common. We are known and understood. Community helps to ground us.
Becoming disconnected from community is destabilizing. We may experience isolation, doubt, loss of identity, and loneliness. In effect, we can lose ourselves and, when that happens, depression and anxiety can creep into our lives.
In today’s world, we are more “connected” than ever with social media and cellphones, which, literally, makes us available 24/7. Being connected does not mean we have community. With community, we go beyond the mass communication of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram that tells us “stuff” but does not allow us to read someone’s body language, connect eye-to-eye, hear the tone of a person’s voice, have an intimate conversation, or give witness to raw emotions and feelings.
We humans are hardwired for community. That is how we survived in our very early days on this planet. We helped each other with the hunting and gathering. As a community, we could better protect ourselves from the physical dangers of the world. We kept each other safe in the dark of the night. And, our face-to-face communication kept everyone “in the know.”
Our modern world has lessened the need for group hunting and gathering as our food is now in the confines of the four walls of a grocery store. Our homes provide us with dependable shelter, light, water, and heat. They also repel a large portion of our physical dangers. Our homes keep us safe in the night and separate us from our neighbors. Television, radio, cellphones, and social media keep us informed without ever having to meet face-to-face with another person. We are becoming so used to this separation that some of us have become very uncomfortable with talking to someone face-to-face!
Because of this disconnection, many of us have lost our connection with our Self. By hiding behind our television and computer screens, our cellphones, our social media, and the four walls (real or imagined) that separate us from others, we have become numbed to the need for connection . . . for community.
In the first sentence of the last paragraph, I purposely capitalized the “S” in self. I did this to differentiate “self” from “Self.” self represents the person who perceives little need for community . . . it represents isolation and disconnection. Self represents the person who sees the need for belonging . . . it represents connection and community.
self and Self are often at odds in our Western culture. In my next post, in two weeks, I will talk more about the interplay between self and Self and how self can become Self. So mull over this post, and until next time . . .
Live an inspired life,