Our basic given human needs can support a new proactive approach to emotional wealth and clearer thinking in a world that has become so fast, so reliant on technology, that has lost people with its pace and intensity.
As living organisms, we have a basic need for survival to extract our needs from the environment. The physical needs that we have are widely known and recognised, but the emotional, so crucial for our wellbeing is less regarded by many. As humans we have a basic need to maintain our Emotional Wealth for; Security, Autonomy, Attention, Emotional Connection, Community, Status, Privacy, Competence, Achievements and Meaning. These are vital ingredients to enable us to be proactive in dealing with the root cause of mental ill health, rather than the sticky plaster that we reactively put over our wounds with medication.
We depend on protection, the ability to have autonomy and control over what happens to us. Without this we resort to learned helplessness. The environment around us have changed so much. The speed of change in the world we are living in jars with the fact that our biology as human beings has not changed. We all need a sense of responsibility to restore our sense of control, in addition we need to have attention, to give and to receive.
Humans have a need for intimacy, which is vital for empathy and emotional literacy to develop. Our need for status and to feel competent is reflected in our sense to find our meaning and our purpose in life. It is this search for meaning that aids our suffering of the intolerable and is used in many therapies to support those suffering to find a meaning.
One of the most pertinent areas of change in our lives that can lead to a greater decline in Emotional Wealth is our instinctive need for community. We all search for social support in our friends, families and the world. A search for co-operation, which stems from our tribal community ancestors.
For centuries our networks, institutions, education systems and governments have acted as extensions for social functioning. Communities are changing; both large and small. Over the past 20 years, villages, which once were populations established around a few embellished families, have changed in their composition. Now they are populated not just by farming families and established networks, but by retirees, families, second homeowners, older singles, relocated families, younger couples and holiday homeowners.
“Disconnection from others causes a loneliness which hangs over society like a think smog”
But how are these people supposed to get to know each other?
Popping into the local pub or post office is not an option in some locations, where these hearts of the community have closed. Communities have become scattered and virtual. Families have become splintered and more geographically dispersed. We need to have interconnected ness in a digital sense, however human contact, and being in the presence of others is vital to our existence. With Mental Ill health, it’s easier to reach out to a smaller community, but we have become so fragmented in a technological society that emotional messages and cries for help so often go unheard, until it is too late.
“We need to revive a common purpose of our local communities”
Social media cannot compensate us psychologically for what we have lost in our social life.
As our social structures have diminished, the risk of loneliness and isolation in communities means that we are increasing the prevalence of dementia, depression and other mental health issues. Loneliness is a product of the way we have started to live today, less outwardly connected and more inward with our own families. Homes used to mean a community, yet these are now shrivelled and serve less of a sense of belonging. Society snowballs loneliness to urge us to believe that we have to do things alone; ‘nobody can help you, but you’.
We evolved as social creatures, thriving on our ability to co-operate and work as a group, historically we survived by bonding and hunting with our tribe. Evolution created us to feel good connected. If prehistoric man or woman was rejected by their tribe, they would be ostracised from the community, having less or no chance of survival. Our brains weren’t designed to keep us happy, but they were designed to keep us alive.
We are all part of one dysfunctional family and community. We need to embrace that. By becoming too disconnected as a culture we are unable to understand each other’s suffering and so disconnect ourselves further. If we don’t understand this society, we have no way of conceiving social causes of ill-mental health. We continue to feel lost in the world that we have made and it’s time that we started to join together to change this. We are not broken, but our communities are.
“We have been tribe less and disconnected for too long, it’s time we came home”
By focussing on these vital human and social needs we can start to improve and proactively move towards a proactive rather than reactive approach to Mental Health. COVID 19 has inflicted upon us further isolation and loneliness, which will only further increase the scale of the problem on society. Human nature have the need for social connection that we have had that taken from us on top of the already fragmented society and loss of our communities.
Founder of N.E.W (Nurturing Emotional Wealth)