It might be easy to forget when watching the news but as humans, we are hard-wired to connect. When we intentionally or unintentionally sort ourselves into any kind of “us” and “them” groups, we all lose—and suppress our natural desire to connect. When this happens, we can experience emotional and physical pain. Are you suffering from social pain?
Some Social Pain Is Short-Term
Have you ever watched a news story or online video or read an article or book that has brought you to tears—either happy or sad? This pain or joy is an empathic response, defined as social pain or social joy. Social pain might be in response to bullying, rejection, illness, death, heartbreak, discrimination, or hate. Social joy is almost always related to love and connection. Although you are not the one directly affected, we are all connected and therefore affected.
It’s an Evolutionary Safeguard
Social pain can create emotional, psychological and physical pain. It can literally make you sick, even if you are not the one on the receiving end. But it’s not all bad news. Social pain often motivates us to respond in a positive manner. To actively engage in our local or global community. It is an evolutionary safeguard that helps protect the collective. And social joy is contagious.
Not everyone responds to social pain in the same manner. Some will hold on to fear that further promotes the negative cycle and others will embrace light and love. Next time you feel a collective pain, decide your response with intention.