Life success and satisfaction are largely built on the teams you belong to. In modern society isolation has reached epidemic proportions. I have spoken to many people who have said something to the effect of, “Umm, I don’t really have any friends.” Some of these people are depressive but others actually exude extreme personal charisma. In modern society is doesn’t matter, isolation is an equal opportunity issue both for the introvert and extrovert.
The human psyche does not do well in isolation. In twelve step programs the slogan, “isolation is a killer” is not metaphorical. When people are alone in an addiction they do tend to kill themselves more often. Isolation is a great contributor to depression, anxiety, fear, career stagnation, and ongoing feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Anyone I’ve treated in an addiction has suffered from isolation. The addiction both serves to medicate loneliness and sometimes offers a toxic group to belong to— that is, fellow drinking or drugging buddies, sex partners, gambling groups, etc. Twelve step groups offer the addict a healthy team to belong to for their recovery and their life.
Why is isolation such a popular remedy for what ails us? When people are emotionally hurt or endangered in childhood they tend to rely on isolation for the only emotional and physical safety available to a child. Isolation can then be relied on in adult life for safety when it is no longer valid or useful. What used to keep us safe as children can end up destroying us as adults.
We are also all “symbiotic” to some degree. That is, we are all affected by the people we surround ourselves with. Ever notice how rich people tend to associate with others with money? How happy people hang around other happy people? How gangsters know where to go to socialize with other gangsters? How monks congregate with other monks? How drug addicts gravitate to drug dens full of their friends? They are all forming teams that rub off on each other—that’s symbiosis. Pay attention to the teams you hang around. You can’t spend a lot of time with others and not have their consciousness “rub off” on you to some degree.
People living in healthy teams have happier moods, better health, and more productive work lives. Businesses often have “team building” exercises to improve work productivity. Many people belong to spiritual organizations as a way to gain needed support in their spiritual practices. The coaches of sports teams are most known for the importance of teaching people how to be part of a team. “There is no “I” in team”, is a popular saying in sports psychology. The family “team” is the best known group that helps ensure the survival and success of its members. In my years working as a homeless shelter supervisor it was rare to see someone come in for help who had an in tact family. Group therapy is a way of joining a “team” of people who may lack group support in their life. The psyche tends to stabilize around anxiety, depression, and fear when it has the experience of belonging to a healthy group. A friend of mine belongs to a women’s group that has been meeting for twenty years to share their life struggles and achievements.
We need healthy teams to live successfully. Self-doubt can destroy success. The team operates as leverage past self-doubt to goal achievement. If you don’t have a group you feel deep belongingness to there are many available. The website meetup.com offers a plethora of social groups to join as a way of being part of teams. There is a twelve step group for any kind of addiction or co-addiction you might be a part of (most people qualify for at least one twelve step program!), there are men’s support groups, women’s support groups, cancer survivors groups, business mastermind groups, professional affiliation groups, gardening groups, cooking groups, pottery groups, meditation groups, sports teams, martial arts teams . . . the list is seemingly endless. Don’t let the belief that isolation keeps you safe continue to rule your life. Don’t let a toxic group rub off on you. You belong, the world needs you, your success team is waiting.