We are not wired to be alone. We think, feel, act and respond more positively in our lives when we feel admired, respected and part of something bigger. This is such an important concept in our health and wellbeing journey – but is often forgotten.
I spent my 20’s, 30’s and half of my 40’s living in a huge city – London. I am so incredibly grateful for all the experiences and life education I collected, learning to live in a city this size. It teaches you to be humble and I think this is a vital ingredient in being a happy, compassionate human.
Moving to a foreign country and building a life requires a lot of energy and determination. You have to put yourself in situations you are not comfortable with constantly, in order to meet people and find opportunities. I think I value this above anything else. It has given me the grit I need to overcome adversity.
You also have to go out into the community and find ‘groups’ to be a part of, as this sense of belonging is such an important part of our psyche.
Whether it be a gym, your workplace, an art class, a running club or an education course – these ‘clubs’ or ‘groups’ become so important in helping us share values and thoughts with likeminded people. We are much more likely to grow and prosper, when we have others supporting us, who understand us and are going through a similar journey.
This is where the digital age has become both an asset and a liability, in my opinion.
On one hand, it is so much easier now to connect with people all over the world on a subject or in a similar situation to you – so you can share knowledge and experiences, which means we can constantly be connected. On the other hand, these connections are not in person, so can sometimes be manipulated and damaging.
Instagram, for example, is a fantastic tool when you are interested in the health and fitness industry. There are enthusiasts and professionals internationally, sharing their knowledge with you and you can learn and feel part of a larger community at any time of the day or night. On the flip side, some of this imagery and information is highly manipulated and false – giving people unrealistic expectations in relation to their own goals. Its so much harder to ‘vet’ authenticity on social media and online. The caution here is that finding a sense of belonging through social media can be a double edged sword.
For me, social media has been invaluable in my medical health journey. Brain tumours are not common, so the ability to connect with closed groups on Facebook to talk through your fears, struggles and treatment options is so powerful. It helps educate you where the medical system fails and allows you to feel part of a community of people who provide you strength and courage, which you need in abundance. It stops you feeling so alone and believe me, feeling alone when you are going through a life threatening illness is not a good thing.
When we are younger, feeling like we ‘fit in’, is all encompassing. I’ve seen it first hand with my daughter and its why being a teenager is so dam hard! And now, you have to ‘fit in both behind and in front of closed doors for all the world to see. ‘Belonging’, has become a carefully curated process, lived publicly on social media and recorded at every turn.
However, this is how the world turns these days, so there is no point trying to change it – but there is good reason to acknowledge it, understand how it works and navigate your way through it as successfully as possible.
‘Culture’, has become integral to society and our beliefs. What social media and the internet have done is take likeminded groups and communities further than they could ever have gone without them and created culture around them.
Our health and wellbeing is no different and as an industry, it has become a culture of its own. This is wonderful in so many ways, as you can find drive and focus in others around you, who share your goals, making the journey so much easier. It is often the reason people stick with something – as they have a strong sense of community around them to support them through a change in lifestyle. It’s a sound reason, if you are starting out, or making a change in your journey, to join a ‘group’. It not only helps with your physical or aesthetic goals, but with your mental and emotional needs as well. This is so important.
We all want to feel part of something. We want to feel valued for our contribution to it and enriched for what we garner from it.