Home > Coping, Life in general, stress > Keeping An Eye On My “Sociostat”!

Keeping An Eye On My “Sociostat”!



Ever heard of the term “Sociostat”? It stands for our social thermostat and was coined by the social psychologists Bibb Latané and Carol Werner. They propose that we all have a need to affiliate with others and maintain certain levels of social contact. This tendency, however, is subject to optimal balance just like our caloric intake. We sometimes crave the company of others; yet at other times, we need to be alone. Engaging in a lot of social activities can disrupt our sociostat. That is why we seek some respite to adjust the imbalance. It reminds me of the extroversion/introversion personally characteristic dimensions proposed by Hans Eysenck. He suggests that extroverts have a chronically under-aroused nervous system; thus, seek social contact and novelty to uplift it to more favorable levels. The inverse is true for those introverts. Maintaining a state of homeostasis relates to many other phenomena and that is crucial for our well-being.

During this time of year (summer season), schools are mostly off. The trend here in Lebanon is that people living abroad return to their home country to spend all or part of their summer vacation. A vacation mode sets in even for most of us who resume their careers gracefully and set their own agendas for vacation time. Many would find themselves in an enforced vacation mode with an overflowing schedule of family and friends to meet and catch up with. Business appointments crossroads with a “lunch it” here and “dine it” there to accommodate for all. “Get togethers” has to be topped by friends you’re trying to maintain (wouldn’t want to dump these for the time). If you are a parent trying to entertain your (sitting at home) kids, you’ll have additional outings to organize. Guess what happens to the sociostat I’ve mentioned earlier? Does it resonate with what goes on around you? Are you freaking out because your threshold has gone awry?

Here is what you need to do: keep an eye on that sociostat. Extroverts and introverts can’t help it for seeking to increase or decrease their exposure to situations to adjust their under or over-aroused nervous system. Both are biologically inclined to “be” the way they are. You can, similarly, be attentive to your sociostat. For some, summertime is a golden opportunity to satisfy the incessant need to be with other people. For others, there life becomes topsy-turvy. They are guilt ridden if they listen to their own need of taking time alone; or are severely overwhelmed if they try to satisfy all ends. Still a third group lies somewhere in the middle; accepting the situation and going with the flow. Where do you locate yourself were we to construct a dimension denoting these three groups?

Obviously, those who do not aspire excessive social contact have a major concern to deal with. What might they do to buufer the incipient threshold burst? Few modus operandis come to mind:
1. Make time for daily “reboot”. You wouldn’t want to be a nervous wreck on the next social function. For every job well-done, there’s a reward. You bent backwards and disrupted your routines; schedule sometime for yourself to spend your day the “preferred way”. Remember, your batteries need constant recharge.
2. Be very selective in your choice of people to meet. If it is another obligation, or those involved are the dreary negative type, let the outing be very brief; else, invite more people to join (those who are more positive, or ones you truly prefer).
3. You strive on self-focus, so be mindful during these outings. Turn your interactions with others as a chance to observe how YOU deal with people. Make the best of it and savor these days to make them work for you (not against you).
4. Reframe those interactions from negative experiences you do not enjoy into more positive terms (e.g. it’s a temporary challenge, I love these guys, I am satisfying their need to be with me, I’ll soon be back to my usual routines, etc…..)
5. Prioritize. Don’t lose yourself in the hassle. Some things cannot be put off; and some people are not staying around for long. Re-shuffle your priorities while keeping focused on what mattes most to you (e.g. your goals, profession, family,…).
6. It’s a chance to learn to say “NO” (when you have to). You really don’t need to stress yourself to comply with the social pressure. If you don’t care of yourself, no one else will.

These are but few techniques for coping before exploding. Even the wisest among us can sometimes focus myopically on having a concern and lose sight of needing to effectively deal with that concern. Our sociostat is woven into our fabric, so in your mind’s eye, just observe: it’s not only the people, it’s not only the outings. It’s YOUR sociostat. Embrace it while keeping an eye on it.

Categories: Coping, Life in general, stress
  1. ReSet Coach
    August 12, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Totally LOVED this post, it IS so true.. I go through this everytime I go to jordan (I go for two weeks five times a year for my courses!!) and I arrive so enthusiastic and end up so stressed I couldnt wait to get back home, I always knew it was "over socialism" somehow, thanks for giving it a definition and some comforting solutions 🙂

    Like

  2. Rain
    October 1, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    that is so interesting, i didn’t know that !
    i heard about extroverted and introverted people before, just didn’t think it is a big deal, Now i have some back up information, next time i want to argue with mum, about my need to stay alone, and not go out often 😛

    Like

    • dddania
      October 1, 2009 at 7:19 pm

      glad to have added to your tank of life knowledge Reine 🙂

      Like

  3. April 25, 2013 at 12:30 am

    whoah this blog is magnificent i like reading
    your articles. Stay up the good work! You already know, a lot
    of persons are hunting around for this information,
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    Like

    • dddania
      April 25, 2013 at 4:51 am

      Many thaaanks 🙂

      Like

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