When we fully engage and activate our Social Instinct, it enables us to form genuine and authentic relationships. In these relationships, we not only find fulfillment and nourishment by contributing our values and care to others, but we also experience a profound sense of connection to something greater than ourselves.
This larger presence is something we recognise as an integral part of who we are, emphasising our interconnectedness with the world around us.
In essence, it highlights the deep significance and sustenance we can derive from being actively involved in meaningful social interactions and relationships.
THE BALANCED SOCIAL INSTINCT
Reading people: We easily pick up cues from others and can read facial expressions and body language. Read between the lines of what others are saying and we adapt accordingly. Helps us to navigate relationships and be good parents/caregivers. Also helps us adapt and respond to what we detect in others.
Creating and maintaining connections: Work at relationships and strive for reciprocity. Helps us in our ability to engage others, and to strengthen connections when it serves our purposes or desires. We value communication.
Participation and contribution: Passionate about what we contribute to others. Participation also brings a sense of belonging: that we are welcomed and that what we are doing matters. Does not mean joining everything or always wanting to be around people. We could be introverts and love solitude but still have a strong drive to contribute. Helps us discern what we participate in, and helps us realize what is not right for us. At its best, is the drive that keeps us contributing to the human journey and creating a meaningful life for self and others.
Other signs of a balanced or healthy Social Instinct:
- Intensely aware that people are innately connected, rendering us sensitive to a wide range of interpersonal forces between ourselves and others.
- Attuned to the emotional atmosphere of our social milieu and the needs, agendas and states of others.
- Motivated to develop gifts and capacities that contribute to others.
- Especially capable in recognising the talents, gifts and contributions of others; better at seeing the values and gifts of others than our own.
- Characteristically require a greater deal more interaction and involvement in others’ lives.
- When balanced, we can care for others and exhibit selflessness in another’s real needs. We can also become preoccupied with what others are thinking and feeling about us.
- Often highly discerning and selective about who we connect with, yet willing to set aside certain prejudices in order to find common ground.
- Awareness of attention towards others persists even when heartbroken or let down, or even when deeply cynical that anything good can come from relationships.
- We may find it easier to mobilise others than to find our own aim or individual path through life.
SIGNS OF WHEN THIS INSTINCT IS BECOMING OVER-DOMINANT OR DISTORTED?
Reading people: Anxieties and self-defeating behaviours, over-concern about others-fearing exclusion or being devalued. May reject our own knowing to please others.
Creating and maintaining connections: Deteriorate into codependent behaviours and anxious attempts to ingratiate ourselves with others.
Participation and contribution: Constant anxieties about belonging, creating in and out groups, and narcissistic needs to be important.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE WHEN OUR SOCIAL INSTINCT IS IMPAIRED IN SOME WAY?
Reading people: We may stereotype this kind of behaviour as exhausting, seeing much of social interaction as fruitless small talk and aimless hanging out.
Creating and maintaining connections: We will often struggle to do this on our own steam.
Participation and contribution: We may perceive ourselves as independent or that nothing we do matters.
- Making efforts to connect or trying to participate in a social scene can seem taxing and lacking any clear benefit.
- Engaging in the social sphere is felt as a distinction dissolving ocean, and to opening up to it would be to whitewash one’s uniqueness and focussed attention on personal interests.
- There is the assumption that others will require an excessive compromise on boundaries, personal traits and identity.
- Often fail to put in the effort necessary to be involved in the lives of those we care for, leading to the deterioration of our relationships.
- Are mostly unconscious about our social fears and disappointments except in specific moments when our desire to connect arises.
- Generally pretty comfortable with a good deal more isolation and non-interaction.
- Lack of being bound by social constraints, expectations or the need to anticipate how we can remain on good social footing.
- Feeling envious of those who seem to have a more robust social instinct than we do.
- Obliviousness to how benefiting others increases personal satisfaction.
- Blind to how gifts, insight and understanding benefit others and failing to see how loved ones need us to show up.
- Taking others for granted out of a failure to recognise how much others actually do for us and thus trying to accommodate their preferences.
- Generally having suspicion and cynicism around interpersonal gatherings, with a distaste for “everyone gets along with one another” idealism.