BLOG (January) May the Force of “Social Support” Be with You
I recently saw the movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you are in the 1 percent of people who haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend you see it, and DON’T READ FURTHER because serious spoilers will be revealed in this blog.
However, for those of you who have seen it, I was wondering if you gave any thought to R2D2’s miraculous awakening? R2D2 is seen in a coma-like state midway throughout the movie, presumably because he misses his master, Luke Skywalker. So the question is, why did R2D2 wake up and, more importantly, how was he able to wake up right on the heels of Han Solo’s death.
Although I read an article indicating that the writers chose to have R2D2 wake up in order to lighten the dark mood following Han Solo’s death, I think this is only a partial explanation. On a psychological level, I believe what caused R2D2 to come back to life was his drive to connect. This desire to connect with others is hard wired in all of us during times of stress or challenge.
I often see during times of sickness or death that individuals and communities come together and create a sea of caring and connection. It is through this sea of caring that resilience follows. How does this play out in Star Wars? It is only after the death of Han Solo that R2D2 comes alive, and the necessary part of the map to finding Luke Skywalker becomes available. Then, the final mission of finding Luke Skywalker can be and is accomplished.
So what can we take away from Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Not that you’ll be fighting intergalactic missions, but rather that when faced with stress or a challenge, our body has a natural mechanism that drives us to turn to others. And, through this social support, we actually grow and become stronger, allowing us to ultimately cope effectively with stress and accomplish the missions we set out for ourselves.
If you are interested in learning more about the power of social support and the upside of stress, I highly recommend Kelly McGonigal’s Ted Talk on “How to Make Stress Your Friend.” https://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend?language=en. This Ted Talk has been viewed by over 9 million views (less than the number of people that saw Star Wars, but still quite sizable). Dr. Kelly McGonigal in her Ted Talk summarized Dr. Poulin’s important work on how caring creates resilience.
Also, if you are interested in learning more about resilience and caring, I highly recommend, Dr. Robert Brooks’ “Continuing Thoughts About Resilience: What We Can Learn from Military Veterans.” This November blog as well as many other terrific blogs can be accessed by going to www.drrobertbrooks.com.
May the force of “social support” be with you, Caren
Please check out my website at drbaruchfeldman.com for additional blogs and upcoming events.