Spring is upon us and here in Houston, Texas, it’s likely to phase into summer heat soon. We happily got a cool snap this week and I found myself able to do my runs under a blue, crisp, and cloudless sky at a temperature of 55 degrees. Knowing the summer will bring temps in the 100’s, I relish these moments. My runs are my happy place. They set the tone for the day and often serve to center my being. To my delight this week there was another bonus, the sweet scent of honeysuckle blooms, a smell of my childhood days in Southeast Texas.

The fragrant nectar of orange blossoms and jasmine took me back to spring days of roaming the neighborhood with friends on my blue Takara bike – we had matching bikes – all of us except one friend who had a yellow Schwinn. I have always admired her for riding that Schwinn with pride, for celebrating her own distinct nature long before I would feel comfortable doing so.

Image of an older couple standing outside hugging each other. If you and your partner struggle with relationship issues, learn how therapy for relationship issues in Austin, TX can help you cope and reconnect.

How Important is Connection?

The honeysuckle memories of childhood got me thinking, thinking about how important connection and a feeling of belonging really are. The scents of my childhood days remind me of how thankful I am that my bicycle friends are still very present in my life. We have known each other for a long time. You could even say we raised each other. Without a doubt, I thrive because of the relationships in my life. Relationships that have carried me through the tough times and celebrated the good ones. In this blog post, I want to touch on why connection and relationships matter and why they are key to health and well-being. Maybe it will expand the lens from which you view your relationships. I hope it inspires you to pause and take the time to examine your relationships and nurture those you hold dear.

Human Beings Are Wired for Connection

What we know is that human beings are wired for connection. We used to believe that our social nature was a product of our upbringing, environment, culture, or personality. But, what we know now is that our brains are hard-wired for relationship. While factors such as culture and personality do shape and influence our desire and capacity for connection, it is our wiring that makes it possible. What’s more is that miraculously over time our brains have evolved to support the complexity of our growing social world. The brain of yesterday is not the brain of today nor the brain of tomorrow. Neuroscientist Matthew Lieberman in his book Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect writes, “To the extent that we can characterize evolution as designing our modern brains, this is what our brains were wired for: reaching out to and interacting with others.” He goes on to explain that we are equipped with biological mechanisms that underlie our ability to empathize, cooperate, give, and love, all traits that ensure and promote connection. These neural circuits underpin all relationships, beginning at birth—and maybe even before.

Our Need For Connection Has Evolved

Our primal need for connection evolved as a survival mechanism over millions of years of evolution. Relationships were essential for our ancestors who could not survive without a community of others. For them, threats to human survival were starvation, scarcity, disease, predators, low life expectancy, and a host of other factors. Thus, survival depended on the health of the group not just the individual.

The Need For Connection Begins at Birth

This need for connection begins at birth – we know this. We are born immature and unable to take care of ourselves. Without the loving care of others, we would not survive the first years of life. It turns out, though, that we need connection throughout our lives, not just in the beginning stages. Studies show repeatedly that healthy relationships are key to happiness and well-being. The opposite is true too. Isolation and lack of connection lead to distress, depression, anxiety, physical ailments, and a shorter life span. What does this tell us? It tells us that we need relationships to both survive and thrive.

Our Brains Evolve As Society Shifts

Furthermore, our brains evolve as society shifts. We no longer face the same threats as our ancestors but we still have a need for social connection. To grow and thrive throughout our life we need others. We need to feel a sense of belonging. None of us can truly get through life alone. We are simply not meant to. As researcher and author Brené Brown explains, “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all men, women, and children. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong.” Another way to think about it is this: we can only become who we are in relationship to others. Without experiencing others, we cannot come to know ourselves. Let’s look at some ancient wisdom to help understand this idea more clearly.

Ubuntu: I Am Because We Are

I love the ancient African philosophy of Ubuntu that Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner, spoke of often. Ubuntu means I am because we are. This phrase says what neuroscience today is proving. I can exist, survive, and thrive if we, the whole of humanity, exists, survives, and thrives. It wisely points out that we, all of us, are interconnected. For example, to thwart danger, forage food, and to survive our ancestors had to belong to a group, clan, tribe, or some sort of community. Today we have different threats, yet we have the same need, a need for relationships and community. Relationships matter – we would shrivel without them!

It’s Not About The Number of Relationships, But The Quality

Furthermore, it is not the number of relationships, it’s the quality of relationships. Some of us have large communities and a wide circle of friends while others find a smaller, close-knit community supportive. What matters is the health of the relationships and your ability to show up as you in the relationships. I think of my bicycle friend with the yellow Schwinn. She had the courage early on to stand out, to show up, to be herself. How refreshing in a sea of blue Takaras to find the bright light of a yellow Schwinn. Today, I am thankful for the sunny skies and the smell of honeysuckle that remind me of who I am and where I come from. I am a product of all my experiences and connections and more deeply I come from all our ancestors of years ago. I come from where you come from. There is comfort in the notion that we are all connected; we are interconnected by our shared humanity and our ability to evolve with the ever-changing complexities of our world. I like knowing our brains are ready for what lies ahead – for who really knows what’s ahead, right?

Reflecting on Relationships

Take a moment when you can to reflect on your relationships. Find ways to nurture healthy ones and ask for support if you struggle. Life is not all blue skies and honeysuckles. It can be hard. Additionally, relationships are key to helping you navigate the ups and downs. If you are struggling, reach out. You have the capacity to connect; you are wired for it. I specialize in online depth therapy. Depth therapy gets to the root of relational issues, personality questioning, and helps you discover your best you. My commitment is to guide you toward a life marked by authentic self-expression, deeper relationships, and greater joy.

Therapeutic Relationships Can Help You Deepen Your Connection With Yourself and Others

A quality therapeutic relationship can help you deepen your connection with yourself and others. Research on the effectiveness of psychotherapy supports this statement and findings in the area of neuroscience back it up. In other words, psychotherapy works. A safe relational space offers the ingredients necessary for real change – change that comes from rewiring your brain. Furthermore, we will use this knowledge to help you understand the process of change while at the same time doing the deep work that gets to the heart of the matter, the very core of who you are.

Image of a group of happy individuals standing outside laughing and smiling on a sunny day. Relationships are an important part of life. Meet with a skilled relational therapist in Austin, TX if you struggle to have meaningful relationships.

Other Therapy Services Offered at Lysle Shaw Psychotherapy in Austin, Houston, and throughout Texas

In addition to Relational Issues, I offer Online Trauma Therapy, and Therapy for Introverts, Empaths, and Highly Sensitive Persons. Begin your journey toward healing and growth by reaching out today. Find more articles like this on my blog!

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