You wrote a great status up-date on Facebook this morning at about 11 am. By 11.10 am you have checked 5 times on how many likes and comments you have. When the response is good we feel great. Then throughout the day we are back at regular intervals of say every five minutes, glowing in the flurry of new likes. “That was genius of me,” we proudly exclaim to ourselves.
(And us bloggers regularly check our site stats in much the same manner?)
Why do we do this? What compels us to go check how many more likes we have got in the last hour? I have found that we do this for one reason: connection from others. On Facebook, providing a lack of likes does not have the opposite effect on you, it is harmless. But in other areas of your life this insatiable desire for connection from others can be, how can I put it? Self-sabotaging.
Especially when we get this connection from the negative or destructive labeling we have placed on ourselves or what others have hung around our necks; like friends, doctors, spouses, ex-partners, parents, teachers and so forth. You can see my other blog on Are You Living up to Your Label if you want to know more.
I once consulted at a friends office in England for a number of months, who rented out a spare couple of rooms to a counsellor. Whilst taking my breaks on afternoons and early evenings, I used to see people arriving for sessions with him. Quite often I would see them getting dropped off by a friend, husband or wife. As the car slowly came to a halt I would see the person who was going for their weekly session, laughing and merrily talking away. Often 10 minutes or so early for their appointment, I would closely observe as many as I could for the following 8 months or so.
When they got out of their car and approached the counselors office I would see their face change! It would suddenly be displaying a poor me kind of look. As the counselor came to the door and greeted them, his deep, soft voice welcomed them. They were about to get a full hours worth of connection from someone who was going to listen to their problems.
I knew a nurse who worked on the wards of a City hospital for over 5 years. I asked her what the patients were like before visiting hours. She told me that a great deal of them would be laughing and joking with the sisters and the doctors and other patients. That is until about 5 minutes before visitors arrived. Then the happiness would stop. They were about to get their dose of daily connection medicine from concerned family and friends.
And this connection we crave does not necessarily have to be a clicked like or a comment. A sad look or any eye contact from others gives us the connection we desire.
So it is for this reason that I feel we live up to the labels that we are given either by ourselves or others, as previously said.
That is why I changed my label from, I am depressed to, I beat depression without drugs. I still needed my connection from others because I am human. So I got it. I saw it in their eyes when I told them. But instead of people saying, “Oh poor you, if there is anything I can do to help, let me know”. I got more, “Wow, how did you do that?” I was still suffering at the time. I firmly believe this one technique enhanced and rapidly increased my recovery.
You see getting the connection from others when it is a negative label wires it further and deeper into your nervous system and embeds it in your subconscious mind. In the case of the counselor, many of his clients had been seeing him for years. I am of the opinion they craved the connection from a concerned listener more than they needed the therapy. I believe the patients in the hospital are hindering their recovery from illness by getting their sick and sad faces ready for visiting hours.
Of course we all crave connection. But if you are getting it to a cement a negative into your being, look for alternative ways to get it. Like I did.
And in case you missed it, I beat depression without drugs.