Loneliness is as lethal as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, according to Psychology Today. And, the same report says if you’re lonely, you are 50 percent more likely to die an early death. Loneliness can be a death sentence or at least an early one for people who don’t have healthy relationships.
There’s a difference between being alone and loneliness. It is good to have alone time to recharge. You need to be alone, at least on occasion. As good as it can be to connect with others, the loneliness that comes from isolation can create depression, anxiety, and a host of mental health issues.
This morning my daughter buried her head in my chest and cried. It was a deep, full-body sobbing kind of cry no one can fake. She was emotionally broken and needed someone to acknowledge her hurt and not try to fix it. She needed validation in what she was feeling and needed to know it was okay to let the tears flow as fast and hard as they could until she felt better.
My heart broke as each sob made her body flinch. I could feel her pain as though it was my own. It was clear that she was in tremendous pain, not some itty bitty surface wound. This pain, whatever it was, wasn’t anything a bandaid could fix. It was a deep hurt that needed love and consolation.
Over the years, we’ve come to know that when something doesn’t make sense with our kids, it usually means there’s a deep underlying need that’s going unmet. This kid is different than our other one. She’s an extrovert. I’d dare say an extreme extrovert. She needs people. It’s tough being the only extrovert in a family full of introverts.
Not only that, but she has a lot of energy. She needs a physical output daily, if not a few times a day. Most days, we can work out what she needs. We’ve worked high energy output into or schedules to allow a physical release to meet the demands of her body. We go to the park after school and allow for outside playtime after homework but before dinner.
She needs physical activity and people. She needs to run hard, get dirty, and get sweaty. She needs to feel the grit of her play. In retrospect, it makes sense that she seems depressed on rainy days when she can’t go outside. She feels down when her body and spirit don’t get what they need.
We’d mostly figured out what she needs and how to make sure her needs are met before quarantine, but now she can’t interact with people to get her needs met. She’s been acting up, at least that’s what it looks like until you unpack who she is and her current environment. She’s grieving people she can't be around right now.
We received a video from her teacher this morning, and as it ended, she touched the screen, saying, “No, please don’t go. I miss you so much.” I squeezed her tighter to let her know she is loved.
Know Your Needs
We know her needs, and she does too, even if she can’t put words to them. She doesn’t have the presence of mind to stop herself when she has so much pent up energy she feels like she’s going to explode. When she lashes out in anger or yells at the top of her lungs, she’s meeting her needs. What looks like disobedience isn’t disobedience at all, and it isn’t soft parenting either. It’s getting what she needs.
You have to know yourself to better understand your world.
You have to know yourself to understand why you need certain things and not others. You have a pull toward certain things, and other things repel you. It’s the first awareness of translating your needs into a better understanding of who you are.
If you haven’t taken a personality profile test to understand who you are, you might want to take one. A Google search will reveal a lot of free personality assessments. If you want more information, you can pay a small fee for a more in-depth analysis. Understanding your personality is useful information to have at any time and will help you know how you relate to other people.
That’s all well and good for people who are old enough to take an assessment for themselves. But what about kids? Helping kids understand themselves is where discernment and parenting come into play. You, as a parent, know your kid better than anyone else. Take a simple assessment and forecast the answers based on what you know about the kid, from the kid’s point of view. If your kiddo has a different personality than you, an assessment can build a bridge to understand better who the kid is and what she needs.
Understanding her world will help you understand your world with her in it and create a better family dynamic.
Know Your World
Know your needs, and know yourself, to know your world. The understanding of how and why you act the way you do with certain types of people and not other people opens understanding and builds strong relationships. Relational understanding creates knowledge, and with awareness, you can open the door of understanding your world.
Some workplaces make their employees take personality assessments and create teambuilding exercises, so coworkers positively relate to each other. It’s the understanding that makes all the difference. When you understand why people do the things they do, you can tolerate them better. Understanding who they are and understanding their needs is one of the best relational building things you can do for each other.
Create Better Relationships
If you take the time to know your coworker in this way, why wouldn’t you also take the time to understand your family members in this way?
Is your family worth the investment?
Hopefully, you offered a head nod in the affirmative.
My husband and my daughters are the most important people to me. I want our relationships to be as happy and as strong as possible. Time is a small investment and one I’m happy to make.
What about you?
How well do you know yourself?
Your spouse or partner?
When we understand each other, we build bonds of connection, but when we don’t take time to understand each other, relationships break down. Tension rules the day, and our relationships fall apart.
Isolation is painful for all in different ways. Are you willing to make a small investment in understanding yourself and your family members to come out of isolation as a winner?