Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect

 

For many of us, our interactions with other humans have yet to return to normal. Large gatherings, birthdays, weddings, funerals and meetings are replaced by countless hours of digital interaction on Zoom, Skype, Facetime or Microsoft Teams. If this past year and a half have taught us anything, it is that no man is an island - connection is a core human need

In our latest sneak peek of the Chōsen Foundational Resilience program, co-founder John Stanton explores connection as a key component to resilience and how we can foster this without physical contact. 

Scientists believe that our connectedness with other human beings is essentially our purpose in life. The physiology of this makes it clear. 

Have you ever experienced physical pain when your feelings are hurt by someone? Maybe there’s a sharp pain in your chest, your stomach turns, and your throat feels tight. As it turns out, it is more than a metaphor – social pain is real pain.

Neuroscientist Matthew Lieberman said, “when we experience social pain - a snub, a cruel word, the feeling is as real as physical pain. Our need to connect is as fundamental as our need for food and water.” The things that cause us to feel pain are things that are evolutionarily recognized as threats to our survival and the existence of social pain is a sign that evolution has treated social connection like a necessity, not a luxury. 

In addition, scientists believe that we are hard-wired to connect because natural selection favored humans with a stronger propensity to care for their offspring and organize into groups. 

Based on research by neuroscientist Dr. Stephen Porges, social connection is what keeps us healthy, sane, optimistic, and empathetic. It has physiological benefits as well, as it strengthens our immune system, helps us recover from disease faster, and even lengthens our life. Our social adaptations are key to making us a thriving species on earth. 

So how can we foster connection when many of us are still disconnected? The answer is surprisingly simple - listening!

There are two different ways that we can listen:

  • Listening for a Response: 

    • Triggers your social pain and puts you into a stress response

  • Listening for Understanding:

    • Physically, you feel loved, safe and cozy when you're listened to for understanding.

Listening is an art that requires work, self-discipline, and skill. The good news is that it can be continually practiced and perfected so that we can build a sense of true belonging by interacting authentically with others.

In our 5-week Foundational Resilience program, we help guide you to recover your connectedness by listening for understanding. “When we listen for understanding, it has the same biochemical signature as feeling loved: oxytocin and dopamine are released in both the recipient and the listener,” says John.  

Go deeper with us by creating a customized program to support yourself through challenging times, practice a mindset of continual growth and transform your lifestyle through our Foundational Resilience program. Click here for information on enrollment.



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