Q. I am 22, and for the last two years, I have started hating humans so much that I don’t see anything attractive in anyone.
This is hard and negative for me because I feel so much loss of community. It’s like I do not want to talk to anyone or make any friends. I’d rather talk openly with the old ones. I just can’t trust anyone. Can you help?
A. To begin, I would ask if you recently experienced an opening of your heart to someone who was not able to receive you?
To put it bluntly, were you emotionally hurt by someone? The renunciation of human interaction doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Nor does it happen overnight. Somewhere along the line—and not that long ago—it’s likely you reached out for connection and were denied.
What happened over the last two years?
The answer to this question is likely the key to your problem. Since I cannot sit with you and hear your answer, I hope that you will find a mental health professional you trust who will sit with you and listen. What I can do here is offer you a few general ideas about the lack of faith in other human beings that might lead you to the dissolution of trust—and how to create it again.
What’s love got to do with it?
First, I need to address that this is a relationship advice column. Perhaps some readers might wonder what the inability to connect to others has to do with intimacy. The answer is: everything.
In many of my articles, I stress that the first step to loving others is to develop love within yourself. Not an easy thing to master or even undertake as a project, but it is key. When we do not have self-love, we seek approval and connection with others as a substitute for the foundation of love. It’s a bit like building a house for humans using the base materials for a bird’s nest. It works well for the bird, but by borrowing someone else’s source of strength (in this case, bits of string and twig), your human house will become faulty and weak—especially as it grows in size and more strain is put upon it.
When we seek fulfillment from outside ourselves as the main source of connection to others, we are bound to be disappointed. No one person or group can reflect the positivity we need to see in the world. That basic fulfillment must come from within.
Inside out and outside in.
Once we are generally in communion with ourselves and our place in the world—using the anchors of connection to nature, the divine, the grand scientific schema, or whatever roots us in existence—we are ready to venture out into the world of communion with others. We bring on our hero’s journey the kitbag full of sustenance (e.g., self-awareness, joyfulness, healthy boundaries, values and morals). If we take this adventure into the world of others without these supplies, we are left defenseless and vulnerable to suffering.
With our self-developed strengths in tow, however, we can meet other human beings where they are. We can see their pain as different, but equal to our own. This is compassion. We move, in effect, from inside out to outside in.
The tried and true.
You mention that the people with whom you prefer to talk openly are your old friends. In all honesty, I see nothing wrong with this. In fact, I would count these tried and trusted friends as part of your armament of strength. These are the human beings (I’m assuming they are human!) who have been there for you, been your support and source of affirmation.
I will remind you that there was a time when you did not know them. In other words, they too were once strangers to you, just as the new people you are encountering now are strangers to you. Your approach may need to shift, your expectations may need to adjust. But you can make connections. You did it before and will do it once again.
Granted, not every person is able to meet us where we are. Not every soul is compatible with us on our path. That doesn’t mean we need to lose faith in all of them, however.
Be the seeker.
Your job, if you care to accept it, is to keep your feelers reaching out for those who speak your soul language. Find your people. It may take longer than it did in the past. That’s because you are older and wiser and the world around you has changed. Keep searching for your circle. Likely, they are looking for you as well. When you find each other, person by person, celebrate and cherish each other. Let your strength radiate outward and be a salve for those who are suffering.
Instead of expending energy in hatred of others, turn love inward on yourself. Let it fill you, spill out and move you on your quest to unite with like minds. Your gut will know which ones are worth investing in deeply as friends, which are better suited to gentle, distant acquaintanceships, and which are not ready to be part of your circle at all. Take this path deliberately and with love in your heart, and is likely that you will then rediscover community with your human siblings.
Author: Rachel Astarte
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina