First published in Thrive Global Jan 19, 2021,

Have you ever felt that way about people? I know I have. The reason that seemingly contradictory statement is true is we are wired for connection: Those closest to us have the capacity to cause us the most pain and give us the most joy. It’s a funny thing to be human; we need each other. Our need for connection is so powerful, when it’s gone, we fail to thrive and our immune system suffers. If we are very young or vulnerable, it can even be fatal.

Yes, fatal.

We need to look no further than Dr Rene Spit’s studies on emotional deprivation to bear this out. In two very different children’s homes in the US in 1945, he observed that connection trumped hygiene for infants’ very survival. Despite having adequate nutrition, babies deprived of contact died in alarming numbers.

Emotional deprivation or a lack of connection hurts.

Why is it then we kid ourselves on this one? We tell ourselves that we can get along just fine on our own and that we are independent when the truth is, we are interdependent. There is no shame in that; instead, that interdependence is the source of our very strength as a species. We’ve organised ourselves along a division of labour involving specialisation that allows everyone to do what they are ‘best at’. No other animal does it quite like human beings; it’s one of the reasons we dominate the planet.

But at what cost?

We make very different decisions when we see ourselves as a part of something bigger and when we see ourselves as connected to each other. The missing piece is seeing the connection that is at the heart of everything. We are part of not separate from each other any more than our liver is separate to our kidneys. To see things differently, we must look at things differently, which comes down to our motives, perceptions, and context. We have more in common than we realise.

The motive of the viewer determines what is seen.

David Hawkins

You will always find evidence for whatever you look for.

We are wired that way, so it takes being intentional around everything up to and including connection. We find our meaning and our purpose in others.

To act differently is to go against our very wiring and in doing so we cause unnecessary pain to ourselves and to others.