We need others to thrive. Maybe this isn’t news to you, but it was news to me, once upon a time when I prioritized my independence above my relationships with others. As I’ve grown up I’ve come to appreciate how important others are to me, not only for happiness and life satisfaction, but for productivity and creativity, too.
I decided to write about this topic in the midst of going through a challenging time. While some of the challenges were caused by others (it happens!), most of how I got through it and kept myself alive (figuratively speaking, but at times it felt literal!) was being able to lean on others. From texts to check in and see how I was doing, to sending baked goods in the mail (more of this please!), to simply listening and holding space for me to vent, it all contributed to keeping me upright and functional (thanks, loved ones!). Not only did I feel loved and supported (and full of chocolate!) but I was able to think through my problems, better articulate my thoughts and needs, and come up with solutions to move forward.
Could I have done all that on my own? Yep, probably. I have been known to walk myself over to the bakery and, along the way, think things through and get somewhere. But it’s more efficient, easier, and more effective with the help of others. I can more easily see my blind spots, not get stuck on that ‘one thing’, and consider possibilities my brain wouldn’t think of.
When we humans are stressed, our creative brainstorming straight up sucks. Sure, it is still ‘there’ but functions like it’s hungover and sleep deprived: achievements are possible, sure, but they are hard work, and are probably at least semi-terrible in terms of quality. Whether it is a personal or professional problem plaguing you, if it’s stressing you out, even a little, it’s going to be a harder slog than when you are feeling optimal. For creativity, collaboration is a key component. More brains are better than one!
There are also significant physical and mental health benefits to having a strong social support system (which is a much nicer way of saying ‘Social isolation is as bad for you as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day!!!!’). I’d also like to shout out all the wonderful laughter that happens when we are with other people. Do I crack myself up when I’m by myself? Hell yes! But it’s a lot more fun with others. Laughing while having fun is a good time, but being able to laugh with others when things are going haywire is essential to keeping yourself going in tough times.
I’d like to close with a reminder we all need: yes, self-care is important; we are all responsible for ourselves. But self-care doesn’t mean “You’re on your own”. We need others, and they need us. We need to care for ourselves, and each other. Letting yourself be cared for by others is an important aspect of this. Many people are more comfortable with giving than with receiving. If you want to strengthen your relationships with others, start by letting them help and support YOU!