I was on a bike ride last weekend. A pub crawl, technically, (those were the checkpoints) except on wheels.
I've been doing it for 10 years. And what started as an off-cuff idea between friends, 15 years later, is now an organised community of cyclists. Riders come and go. People get busy. Move away. Gain commitments. But twice a year, the ride still goes ahead.
We all have an inherent need to feel part of something. To feel like we matter. And to contribute somehow. But life can get in the way. Sometimes it's down to the cognitive distortions of self-image and past learning. And other times it's the choices we make.
Sometimes it's both.
In my previous work I'd keep my head down at times, only having minimal interactions. Some days I'd rarely speak. Like the office ghost. And the less I engaged the harder it was to interact. Which just further exacerbated my withdrawal. Even in the presence of a warm group of colleagues I'd worked with for years, I became the outsider I'd feared I always was.
There was a large part of me that felt substandard as a human being back then. And I can see why things could get like they did. But I also let them get that way. It was easier to keep my head down.
It was easier not to try.
Our world today differs vastly from our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Where connection and community were optional only if you had a delusional hankering to go make peace with the wolves. And it's not that our culture denies us connection and community. It's that it makes it easy for us to avoid and deprioritise them.
It's easier to send a text or email than pick up the phone or walk to someone's desk.
It's easier to scroll our news feed than arrange dinner with friends.
It's easier to chase ticks off the to-do list than clear our schedule for time with someone we truly care for.
Life gets in the way. We get in our own way. And that's the challenge. Creating connection and community takes investment. Nurturing. And without a watchful eye on our habits and routines, it's not all that hard to end up in the cold with the wolves.
(Struggling to connect with people, or feeling alone and like an outsider? Cognitive Hypnotherapy in Leighton Buzzard can help you. Get in touch to learn how).