Humans are social beings. We need each other to thrive. The more we feel connected to others, the higher our interpersonal wellbeing tends to be. For instance, married people have a higher wellbeing score than divorced and single people, while if you have four or five close friends you will have a higher interpersonal wellbeing score than if there are only one or two people to whom you are close.
We all need to feel that we belong to something larger than just ourselves, so if we feel that we belong to a community, then we will have a higher wellbeing score too. If you are married or are in a de facto relationship with a partner, then you may feel that you belong to them. You may also feel that you belong to your family of origin. In addition to these relationships, you may feel you belong to a local community as well.
A community can take a variety of forms, and can be either large or small. If you are a member of a sports club, for instance, then you will feel that you belong to that community, or if you participate in another type of organisation, then you may feel that you belong to that group of people. Your sense of belonging will also likely grow as your relationships with these people become stronger over time. In a hierarchy of relationships, the next tier up might be the feeling that you belong to your city or region, then your country, then your race, and finally to humankind.
What is important to understand when it comes to interpersonal well-being is that you have the opportunity to change your attitude as to how you feel about belonging to a group. You have the capacity to reach out and connect with people towards whom you feel some affinity by making an effort and joining an organisation or club in which you are interested.
For instance, you could join a public speaking club where you would have the opportunity to make friends while also improving your confidence at speaking to groups or in public. There are any number of ways in which your life could change as a result of taking such an action and joining this community.
Social support is crucial in navigating life’s difficulties. If you have a good social support network, then you are more likely to manage losses in your life better than if you feel isolated. It’s important to have friends who are able simply to listen to you and actively support you in what you are doing.
Some people will try to give you solutions immediately, rather than just listen and reflect back to you the emotions you are feeling. However, the latter approach (which is known as active listening) is more positive and if you can do this for your friends, then they will thank you and your friendship will become deeper. At the same time, if they are able to do this for you, then you will find that you feel understood.
If you find yourself feeling isolated, then reach out to someone and have a conversation about something that you are interested in. Join a social or sports group, or aim to improve a skill and take some lessons. Even if it’s only a short course, you may find that something positive comes out of it. It might be a friend, or it might be more confidence.
Be proactive and take action to improve your interpersonal wellbeing through creating new opportunities for interacting with people.