Our former U.S. Surgeon General just came out recently with a statement in the Harvard Business Review. He said, “Loneliness is also associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, depression and anxiety. During my years caring for patients, the most common pathology I saw was not heart disease or diabetes.” It was what? Loneliness.
And he is joining a resounding chorus of voices in medicine and psychology and the social services, all saying this is — they’re calling out this epidemic. Truly an epidemic. I’m not up here exaggerating. I’ve been known to do that before. This is not an exaggeration.
In fact, some are declaring this to be the number one public health issue of our time. Because when you think about it, it’s bad enough to just think about millions of us being lonely because that only affects all these millions of individuals not being as happy and healthy and as having as long of lives and feeling a strong of immune systems as they possibly could, but that also means we have millions of people who aren’t as practiced at these three skills as we would want them to be for solving the problems of our world and dreaming up the solutions we desperately need.
I can go down a list, and that’s a whole other day. I can go down a list, though, of how every single subject, from addiction — the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it is connectedness — homelessness, acts of terrorism. Almost every single major problem has at its roots: lack of relationships.
And almost every dream we have and every idea we want to accomplish in the business world and the political world — I mean, let’s just look at politics and religion for one hot second.
Here’s two entities that both want to be known for bringing people together and creating unity. And they have broken their relationship with the vast majority of our public for lack of vulnerability and positivity. We now distrust them and have more fear and frustration.
Every organization cannot accomplish what it’s meant to be doing without knowing how to build the relationships that matter. We need to be a part of this.
The world needs us, desperately, to know how to be adding more positivity on a regular basis, for our leaders, for our customers, for our teams, for our students, for our children, for every single person so that each person feels seen and valued for who they are.
We want to just keep repeating this cycle. These are the things we’re being called to practice. These are muscles that can be developed. And I want to do this for the world.
And before I can show up in the world and be like, “We’re here to change the world with love and meaningful relationships,” I have to practice it in my own life.
So as I was driving home that day, and my two-year-old was just having her little pity party and being like, “Remember, you need better friends. You are too good for these people,” another little quiet but oh-so-wise voice was trying to get my attention too.
She eventually broke through my little sob story, and she said, “You know, Shasta, you could have handled that differently too.”
I was like, “Excuse me? Seriously? You’re putting that on me? That is so not my fault.”
And she goes, “We’re not talking about fault. We’re talking about connection. You could have just as easily said, ‘Hey, before we talk about X, I want to make sure I have a chance to tell you about Y.’
And you know your friends would have leaned in a bit, ‘Oh, yes.’ It’s one thing if they were like, ‘No, we’re purposefully not letting you talk. But they would have jumped in, leaned in, been present, and then you could be driving home, Shasta, feeling connected instead of licking your imaginary wounds.”
My friends made a mistake; that happens. That’s one act of positivity that didn’t feel all that great.
But at the end of the day, someone asking about my life is not one of the three requirements of relationship. What is one of the three requirements is both people feeling seen, and I had neglected to share.
At the end of the day, that’s an act of vulnerability to say, “I need to speak up for my needs.” But that’s a muscle I could have practiced building.
I can guarantee you that any relationship in your life that is not fulfilling, it is because at least one of these three requirements is lacking. You can look at any relationship in your life and identify, “Oh, yeah, that one. Well, we hardly ever see each other. It always feels good when we’ve got positivity, but we don’t have consistency.”
Oh yeah, you can kind of quickly start identifying exactly which one of these would make the biggest difference for moving your relationships, your vast network of so many people. It is not that you are lonely from lack of people; it’s you’re lonely for intimacy, for frientimacy.
And we have the power to move those relationships up. That loneliness is your body saying, “I want more connection,” and that is one of the most beautiful messages you could ever receive.
Why we would feel shame around that is just something I’m trying to change. We should be like, “Oh, wow. That’s — I want more in it. I want more meaningfulness.” That’s amazing.
And I hope today that you now know exactly what three things — POSITIVITY, CONSISTENCY and VULNERABILITY — that you can practice in order to move yourself to greater frientimacy for your sake and for the world.
Download This Transcript as PDF here: Frientimacy_ The 3 Requirements of All Healthy Friendships_ Shasta Nelson (Transcript)
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