Written by: The Circles Team

August 24, 2020

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Fred Rogers.

As humans, we need social connections. We especially need to feel connected when we are sad or when times are tough. Interestingly, social relationships seem so readily available to us when times are good, and we are at our best. Yet, when times are tough, when we feel vulnerable and in need of support and care, that real human connection that we are so desperate for can sometimes be challenging to come by.

Imagine for a moment that you have recently lost your spouse to a long illness. In the days and weeks leading up to and surrounding your spouse’s death, you were rarely physically alone. Friends stopped by day and night to deliver your meals, to sit with you, and to offer you company and support. So many loved ones surrounded you, and you might wonder why it seems strange then that you feel so very lonely. Yet, when you think about it during this time, you were never physically alone. Sadly, this feeling of loneliness is all too common when we face a life challenge, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

The Importance of Human Connection When we are young children, we are taught the importance of and how to live healthy lives. Nutrition, exercise, and making healthy life choices all rank high on the scale of healthy living, but what do we learn about the importance and value of developing a deep, meaningful human connection. Interestingly enough, we are taught very little about this and the importance of nurturing it. Human connection, it would appear, is supposed to come naturally to us and be readily available. Yet, our lives are so busy in today’s day and age, and our social connections play second fiddle to work, school, hobbies, and household responsibilities.

Research shows that despite the increased connection to others via technology, loneliness is on the rise. A recent report found that more than 60 percent of Americans report feeling lonely, left out, poorly understood, and lacking companionship. Research also shows that loneliness can be detrimental to our health and many researchers fear that it may be more harmful than obesity or smoking. Research also suggests that individuals who feel lonely are 50 percent more likely to die prematurely than those with stable, healthy social relationships. So it would seem then that connecting with others is more important than we might like to think.

What Does Connecting Mean? Brene Brown, a professor who specializes in human connection, believes, “We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection.”

Connecting means being open and available and being present in time and space with one another. It requires both learnings how to give and how to receive. For connection to occur, it is essential to create a safe, nurturing space where compassion, empathy, and trust are readily available.

Finding Real, Authentic Human Connection in Emotional Support Groups

It is hard to connect, and it is even harder to connect when we feel vulnerable. Our culture tells us to keep our feelings inside to be healthy, to talk about happy things and not the things that cause us emotional pain and discomfort.

At Circles, we understand the struggle of finding real human connection, and we recognize the benefits that come from connecting people who are experiencing similar life challenges. We believe in the power of human connection, and we know that individuals and communities are most potent when all members are valued, listened to, nurtured, and heard.

Making an Online Support Group Work for You Suppose this is the first time you have participated in a support group. In that case, it is expected that you might be feeling hesitant or apprehensive about sharing your darkest moments with a group of people you just met. Don’t worry; everyone feels this way at first, and in no time, sharing in the group will feel cathartic and second nature to the healing work you are doing together as a group.

Circles make it easy to find the connection and support you need from people who can genuinely relate to what you are going through. We hope that you will find the support you need in one of our group sessions.

We are glad that you took the first step throward help for our members, new and old.

Here are some quick tips to help you get the most out of your experience with Circles:

Be open and present
Attend all group sessions if possible
Remember, your facilitator is always there for you to guide you along the way. Reach out to your facilitator and communicate openly with them if you have any concerns about the group dynamics or if you will be missing a session.
Nurture your group relationships. Learn to give and receive feedback from the other members of the group.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Let your feelings out, cry, laugh, get angry.
Remember, this is a safe, supportive, and confidential space.
It is okay to take risks!
Find a quiet, peaceful place free of distractions to log into your group session each week.
Do you want to learn more about our programs? Find out here.

Thank you for your trust in Circles. We are in this together.