We are losing touch with ourselves

We all have heard the phrase, “humans are social animals”; Google this phrase and you will get approximately 828 million search results. The reasons for human’s social brains are not completely understood, but there’s growing consensus in the key role it has played in the evolution and survival of the human race.

“Ok, so what?” you may ask.

This is an important topic because Americans are becoming lonelier especially those in younger generations like Gen Z and Millennials. Social isolation and loneliness are serious problems that not only plague America, but they have also become a public health epidemic worldwide. Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and others, are not just “in your head.”; they directly affect your physical health. They are also an invisible killer lurking in the shadows. They hunt their victims regardless of gender, social status, education, age or anything that differentiates one from another. The tragic deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade in 2018 are still fresh on many people’s mind.

We are increasingly losing touch and failing to create connections with real people in our lives. Screens of various sizes are becoming our default channels to see the world and to interact with each other. We have all witnessed this scene: two people sitting in a restaurant while on a date; instead of talking to each other, they are staring at their phones. They are inches away, yet worlds apart. We get an adrenaline rush when we see the number of friends and followers online, but we don’t really question whether they are real friends or just a statistic. How many of us, at some point in our lives, have felt that we are surrounded by people, and yet we are all alone? Do we have someone to confide in when we need to talk about our problems?

We are not just losing connections with others; we are also losing touch with ourselves. One of the most crucial connections we deprive ourselves with is with our own emotional needs and feelings. We are bombarded by all kinds of information on a daily basis and they are competing for our limited attention: the promotion you want, the looming project deadline, the latest style in fashion, the stock market, the new trending photo of a matcha latte on Instagram, a new type of workout that promises the fastest weight loss ever and who-knows-what-else. We are so afraid of missing out (FOMO is real) that we use every technology and channel available to keep up.

The results? We are no longer pay attention to how we feel, and we happily neglect the need to understand the reasons behind our emotional swings. We choose to ignore the most valuable knowledge in our lives because we are too “busy.” And what do we do when we feel down? We look for quick-fixes to feel “normal” so that we can present ourselves in tip-top shape to be distracted. Such easy escape routes often lead us down the dangerous path of substance abuse with alcohol and drugs.

To reduce social isolation, we need to form meaningful connections with others, create trust and bond by understanding each other emotionally. But before we can truly understand others, we need to, first, understand ourselves and our own emotions, for we will be able to connect with others without judgments if we have similar experiences ourselves.

A first step to understanding ourselves is using a daily mood log to track our moods and feelings. The mood log is a tool in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that helps you track how you feel and why you feel this way. It can be invaluable in understanding your mental state, and discovering triggers and stimuli that cause you to feel in both positive and negative ways. It’s easy to keep a mood journal. My Alexa skill, Mood Expressions, offers a natural way for you talk about your feelings and creates a 2-week mood log report to reflect on your moods and emotions.

Humans are social animals. We are meant to be social. It costs us greatly when we drift away from others. We will be happier when we are more socially connected and stay in touch with our own feelings.