“Everyone I know is having a meltdown at the moment!” Hardly a day goes by when I don’t hear that lament. It’s as if the whole world was having a gigantic meltdown.
When you think about it, we have had to face a lot over the past few years. So much of what we took for granted was turned on its head by COVID-19. We’ve endured lockdowns, mask wearing and being unable to hug friends. Not to mention the induced panic of crowds for fear of catching the virus. Add to that the fact we’ve been working from home, as well as dealing with on-and-off schooling and anxious children. It’s hardly surprising everyone is tense!
There was more to make us anxious
Then, just as the pandemic was easing, we had to battle floods and bushfires. Everything people owned seemed to vanish in seconds, leaving them with just the clothes on their back. Then came the uncertainty of wars and economic turmoil.
In short, we’ve all been confronted with the reality of how vulnerable we are and how everything we have can vanish in a flash.
All that we’ve been through has forced us to acknowledge how truly alone we are in the universe. It is surely a sobering reality!
However loneliness, isolation, depression and anxiety were all increasing even before the pandemic. It seemingly coincided with the rising cult of individuality. Indeed, I think society faces a reckoning on that issue. Individualism is deeply rooted and attractive, emboldened by social media.
Rediscovering our humanity: A cure for anxiety?
We human beings are built for community. We discover who we are in the reflection we see in the eyes of others. When we are on our own there is no mirror for our souls. In many ways it is like trying to shout down a bottomless well; the sound vanishes in the emptiness. Likewise, isolated and alone humans dissolve into infinity.
Perhaps in response to this I’ve noticed that ballroom dance classes have become really popular. Is this the inevitable outcome of people reaching out for one another; of needing to connect; of realising we need each other to overcome our loneliness? There is a lot to be said for the power of belonging.
For what it’s worth, my advice is to look deep into the eyes of a friend and simply tell them it’s good to have them in your life. Tell them they’re needed and let them know that if they want a hug they only need to ask. After all, that’s what friends are for! When that happens, the whole world embraces us.