Over the past six months I have looked at my ‘Six Steps to Serenity’ and this month we arrive at Step 6 ‘Socialising’. For the past 10 months I have been mainly at home, and I quite like it. I have become anti-social. However I do recognise that connection is important for health and wellbeing.
Human beings are social animals, we evolved in family groups and tribes and were dependent on each other for safety, food, and shelter. As society stopped being nomadic and became more complex, we started to live in smaller family units. However, we still need the company of others.
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” ~ Brené Brown
Extroverts thrive in groups and feel low if they can’t spend time in the company of others, but even introverts need to be with other people from time to time.
It is said that you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. Who you choose to socialise with is a matter of self- care: some people will drain you and others uplift you. You need to spend more time with people who uplift you and less time with those who drain you. And that may mean that you spend less time with family.
If you have a career or job you may have mixed feelings about your co-workers. However, working gives you confidence and boosts self- esteem as well as providing financial security.
So, there are pros and cons to the socialising step.
Are You An Introvert?
As an introvert you need to choose events that you attend very carefully as they can really drain your energy. You may even need to develop a strategy for coping. I attended a large conference in Toronto which I really enjoyed and took a lot away from, but I made sure that I stayed in the same hotel so that at lunchtime and longer breaks I could go back to my room and rest. The extroverts just carried on talking, networking, and mingling downstairs.
You don’t have to avoid events because you find them draining, you just have to learn to manage your time and energy. And you must understand that doing what is right for you is the best thing you can do.
The world is currently designed for extroverts, even though they may not be in the majority. Tt also varies from place to place. In the USA depending on the study, 30-50% of Americans are introverts and America is one of the world’s most extroverted nations.
Some people are ambiverts, which means that they can cope reasonably well in both situations. Many people ‘pretend’ to be extroverts because it makes life easier. This is true particularly in the workplace.
If you would describe yourself as quiet, sensitive, serious, studious…you are probably an introvert. Susan Cain’s excellent book ‘Quiet’ is a great insight into why you should and how you can tap into the power of being an introvert.
For the extroverts among you, being with others is the best thing you can do for your mental and emotional wellbeing, for your creativity and for your productivity.
There are many groups that you could join to get support and companionship from like-minded people. They could be groups based on a hobby or interest, a religion or spiritual belief, exercise, or activity- the possibilities are endless. But you may have to try out a few groups before you find the right fit.
Socialising At Work Or In Business
The workplace is often a place where friendships start but working patterns have changed and will change in the future with many more people working from home. However, just because you work with someone doesn’t mean you are automatically suited to be friends. You may be an introvert in an office full of extroverts or vice versa. This could make you feel out of place. Modern office practices such as open plan offices and hot desking, endless meetings and brainstorming are all designed for extroverts.
Going to work or social events can be great opportunities to meet like-minded people and extroverts will thrive. If you are quieter you may want to go with a friend rather than alone. Rather than trying to speak to as many people as possible, you will feel better speaking for longer to less people.
The same is also true for networking events if you must attend those for work or business- extroverts can ‘work the room’ but introverts should seek fewer but deeper conversations. Try out several networking groups, but then choose the ones that suit you best.
If you are retired or don’t work, you may like to consider volunteering or charity work. There are so many kinds of opportunities in front and back office roles and you may have valuable skills that a cash strapped organisation could really use. It will also be great for your confidence and self-esteem.
“Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. The power that connection holds in our lives was confirmed when the main concern about connection emerged as the fear of disconnection; the fear that something we have done or failed to do, something about who we are or where we come from, has made us unlovable and unworthy of connection.”
~ Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
If you are looking for a community to help you find more calm, balance and focus in your life I have a membership for women called Halcyon. We are currently closed to new members until July, but you can get on the waitlist for information about the next opening at louisecardon.com/halcyon-membership-waitlist or find out more about me and the kind of thing I do in my free Facebook group Serenity Circle .