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You Are Not Meant To Be Alone – You Are Wired For Connection & Relationships

alone, isolation, hardwired connection, relationships, belonging, Lieberman, social brain, connecting, mindreading, harmonizing, pain & pleasure

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to like to reveal the way that the brain is wired for connection and relationships.

First a quick update:  

The Breakup Test
Are you heartbroken, angry, lost, lonely, confused, depressed, or pining over your ex? How would you like to benefit from personalized advice, action steps and revelations? Take my Free Breakup Test and get your own personalized report.

14 Ways To Escape From A Narcissist or Toxic Relationship
Criticism, contempt, condemnation, stonewalling, silent treatment, defensiveness, manipulation, control and/or any form of abuse – mental, emotional, physical form a toxic relationship. Here are 14 ways to escape the toxic relationship and narcissist Watch the video

Now, let’s talk about the way that the brain is wired for connection and relationships.

Did you know that Tylenol works as effectively on emotional pain such as heartache as it does on physical pain?


Your brain reacts to social pain and pleasure in the same way as it does to physical pain and pleasure. It processes emotional pain and physical pain in the same parts of the brain.

Why would that be?

The human brain is built to crave social and emotional bonds and connection. Your brain feels pain and pleasure based on what is going on socially in your life. Your brain is hardwired to connect and to develop bonds and relationships. You are not meant to be alone.

Why would the brain be that way?

You need social connections and relationships to survive and thrive. You need to belong, and you need the help of others to survive and even to implement your ideas. And as I will reveal in a moment, contrary to popular belief, your concept of self (thoughts, beliefs & values) is also formed by social connections and relationships because you unconsciously seek to belong, to be liked, loved and respected; you are influenced by others. And it is from other people that your emotional and psychological needs are met.

Psychologist, Abraham Maslow said food, water and shelter are our most biological needs. However, we cannot fulfill those needs as an infant without social connection – without the mother or a caregiver.

In fact, “The brain also has reward system which is sensitive both to giving and receiving care in the parent and child, respectively. When we experience social pains or feel the distress of withheld social connection, we are unable to focus on much else until this need is met.” – Social: Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect by Matthew Lieberman, neuroscientist.

When an infant is removed from her mother, she cries in distress.

You grow in relationships not in isolation

Did you know that if your romantic partner holds your hand to give you comfort during pain, your brains synchronize, and it creates an analgesic effect – you experience less pain? But the same pain relief and comfort does not occur when a stranger is holding your hand to empathize and comfort you.

Real trust and connection make the difference: the high level of synchrony occurs in romantic couples, not strangers.

Did you know that when a doctor touches a patient during treatment, the patient experiences a better health outcome from the interaction?

“I think, when the touch comes from someone we trust and there is a real connection between them, it creates the kind of synchrony that can help; that’s why, when something bad happens, we go to someone we know instead of strangers.  – Simone Shamay-Tsoory, PhD., social neuroscientist at University of Haifa, Israel.

The Biblical quote that it is more blessed to give than to receive is backed by science. Giving and cooperating activate the brain’s reward system, and you feel good. Thus, the giving and helping are ends in themselves.

Why would that be?

Again, these are prosocial behaviors; they build connections, bonds and relationships. Social connections are therefore more important and critical to your happiness than material possessions.

You are psychologically and physically dependent on social connection, and when you feel rejected, an outsider or as if you don’t belong, you experience pain and anxiety because being excluded means you lose the protection of the pack or family. It is a hardwired response in your brain.

“We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.” – Brené Brown

Social Connection, Trauma and Health Outcomes

From where does most of your current pain come?

From problems in relationships and connection past and present – from isolation, rejection, exclusion, loneliness, or psychological trauma.

That does not infer that relationships are bad; quite the opposite; it means that relationships are critical to healthy functioning. Social connections are a key motivator of behavior.

“We are profoundly shaped by our social environment and we suffer greatly when our social bonds are threatened or severed.  When this happens in childhood it can lead to long-term health and educational problems.” – Matthew Lieberman. The rejection, the threat of physical and psychological harm, the disconnection, the feeling of being unwanted, unloved, and insignificant all create the long-term negative health outcomes of trauma: they affect the nervous system and the development of the brain and its architecture.

And for children, the ‘fear of getting in trouble’ also incorporates the fear of social rejection and exclusion.

Furthermore, studies reveal that children learn faster and more effectively when they are learning with the express intent of learning a subject or skill to teach others!

And when the brain is not engaged in a specific task, it reverts to default mode, thinking about others and ourselves, of people and relationships rather than abstractions or objects.

Thus, the human brain is wired to think socially on 3 levels:

1 Connecting
To make connections – to belong and feel close to people; to feel social pains and pleasure from interactions and relationships; to experience security and wellbeing from connections and relationships

2 Mindreading
To read the minds of others; understand the actions, thoughts, hopes, fears, intentions, motivations, emotions, and beliefs of people around you. Mirror neurons grants you the skill to feel what others feel and to even mimic unconsciously their facial expressions. This is the mechanism where you can say to someone, “You look sad/angry/down…etc.” If you have had Botox injections, you become worse at recognizing emotions in others because you cannot unconsciously mimic those facial expressions.

3 Harmonizing
To “harmonize” with others by allowing group beliefs and values to influence our own. The concept of self is not formed in isolation; we are influenced greatly by people around us, particularly those important to us, and by culture in general. We have a desire to fit in, to be liked, loved and included. “Our identities are formed by the values lent to us from the groups we call our own.”

Relationships and Effective Teams

You probably have experienced a ‘flow’ state – in this truly pleasurable state, you are super focused, lose sense of time, you perform at a high level, and you are highly creative. Teams can also experience a team flow state whereby their brains are synchronized, with similar patterns of brain activity in the temporal lobe, and the frontal cortex. Thus, their deep social connections and relationships make them an effective and optimally performing team.

Finally, relationships give life meaning while isolation, loneliness and failed relationships result in pain, real pain. If you need help to resolve pain from  relationships, and ex or trauma, do as others have done and resolve it rapidly and build new healthy relationships by using my SRTT process; you can do so without reliving the pain or being triggered: book a one-on-one session with me.

You can add to the conversation below.

I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D. Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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