The Power of Community
Over the last few years, introvertedness has come to the forefront, and that has been damn good for me.
I grew up wondering what was wrong with me for not feeling like hanging out with groups of friends for as long as they wanted to. Or why I always preferred hanging out with a best friend to a large group. Or why I’d feel so jealous of my best friends (who I now understand were almost all extroverts – we tend to attract each other) for their ease of moving in and around different circles.
I now know it’s because I “recalibrate” by having alone time. So much of my world is internal – my thought processes, my creative spark – and they don’t “work” when I’m with others.
At the same time, I’m here to shout loud and clear that introverts need other people, too.
There have been more than a couple of years where I cut myself off from others in order to hunker down and heal. Though I wouldn’t change those times because I think they gave me some incredible resilience, over the past five or so years, I’ve learned how important community is for our health and healing.
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Loneliness has been shown to negatively impact a few aspects of our health, including the immune system. A professor of mine who was a therapist said he believed the single biggest issue for Americans is a lack of community. Dr. Lissa Rankin recently did a TEDx talk about loneliness being the #1 public health issue, which you can watch below:
In America, feeling isolated is an epidemic.
While the internet has done a lot in helping us to see there are others in the world who deal with the same mental, emotional, or physical issues as we do, there’s evidence that technology actually works to separate us (and divide us even further when it comes to politics). Of course there is socialness to social media, but that has a very different impact on our minds and bodies than being with people in real life. Plus, social media tends to make people feel worse about themselves.
Introverts like myself can get easily hooked into social media, as it’s a form of connecting where we don’t have to expend a ton of energy, and often can just scroll along to see what other people are doing from the comfort of our couch. It removes the challenge we have of wanting to be out in the world more, but knowing it will essentially drain us.
But that challenge to connect face-to-face is what conversely feeds us, helps us to grow, and improves our immunity to stress and sickness.
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I usually work to manage my stress by myself. I have a wide variety of tools I’ve cultivated over the years to do this, such as EFT, qi gong, meditation, and visualization. But I’ve noticed when I’m under stress for several weeks at a time, these tools will work when I do them by myself only up to a certain point. It is when I connect with a group and use them that everything shifts.
Of course there is a release in simply talking about your problems with others. But to use healing techniques that other people are using at the same time exponentially increases the healing. I love the freedom and joy I feel after meditation group, or when I attend a yoga class. I bet you can relate.
Underlying all the wonderful things we learn in the Metamorphosis program is the power of community. It is community that holds the space for deep healing. It’s knowing that you can bring all your shit to the table and be accepted and loved. It’s being able to hear other people’s shit and feel less alone. It’s being able to witness others’ growth, and for them to mirror yours back to you. It gives you the power to know you can do so much healing on your own – that you have it inside of you – but that you can also come back to your community and share what has changed for you.
If you are in the Asheville area, I invite you to be a part of this community that begins in January 2017. For more information, check out the Meta page, or email me at christinegarvin [at] christinegarvin [dot] com.
If you are not in the area, I urge you to find a group nearby that gives you this kind of support. Introverts, push yourself to seek it out even if you don’t naturally feel like you want to. I guarantee it will enrich your life, make you healthier, and help you to flourish.