Connection

Connection

Almost everywhere I turn my attention lately, I see a reference to Connection. Blog posts, Ted talks and even listening to people at work. Connection is a big deal but what is it and what is so important about it?

I’ve started reading Deb Dana’s book “Anchored” which is a discussion on polyvagal theory and befriending our nervous system. The first words in her Introduction are “We are wired for connection. Our nervous systems are social structures that find balance and stability in relationships with others.”  Kind of like no man (or woman) is an island. We thrive on interaction and belonging.

I remember hearing stories of babies in orphanages that were deprived of human touch in the first half of the 20thCentury. They failed to thrive and, in many cases, died. According to research cited on theconversation.com  “Most of these deaths were not due to starvation or disease, but to severe emotional and sensorial deprivation – in other words, a lack of love. These babies were fed and medically treated, but they were absolutely deprived of important stimulation, especially touch and affection.

Definitions

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “the act of connecting the state of being connected:”. That doesn’t help me much. When I add the word human though, it takes on a significant meaning.

I found this definition on ramseysolutions.com and it resonates with me. “Human connection is when two or more people choose to engage in vulnerable interactions where each person is heard, seen, known and valued.” That raises the stakes a bit doesn’t it? It means that there is an investment in the relationship – getting vulnerable and letting someone see who you really are can be a scary proposition. But it is also so freeing. You know how you feel with those people, who usually know you best, where you don’t have to wear armour. You can show up on the great days and crappy days and they accept you completely as you are – warts and all. Those are the people that I want to spend ALL of my time with! And that is the person that I strive to be – someone who never wears armour.

Technology is not always enough

The last two years have been unprecedented for most of us living today. And while I don’t know how I would have managed as easily as I did with technology – thank you Zoom! We need to be around people and I am seeing the effects of 2 years of lockdowns and roller coaster infections when I chat with friends and family. I am lucky enough to have found a couple of groups of women who have taught me how to drop the armour through their total and utter acceptance of who I am – all of our exchanges were on Zoom and they offered a place for deep and meaningful connections. Sometimes, the technical connectivity is not enough. Not everyone is ok and we can all do something about this. 

T.R.I.P.

I’m not a big fan of lists but I love acronyms so take a look at my list to help you connect. I call it TRIP, in honour of Round Trip:

  1. Tension detox. Take a deep breath. This is such an awesome way to relax a little.  We tend to breathe superficially as we go about our days. A few seconds of deliberate and deep breathing can clear your head. Some conversations will be difficult – people have forgotten the social graces or have had them replaced with such fear over the past months that we need to be able to forgive as we engage. 
  2. Reaction. Really listen to other people when they cross your path. We’ve all be deprived of what used to be normal and change is not easy. So listen to people with the intention to understand – not to answer. They might not be able to empathize with you ( or you with them) and that should be ok.
  3. Invite. Initiate a connection – call someone or invite them to coffee (or better yet – ice cream!) It can be really hard for people to reach out when they are feeling less than their best. Surprise someone and make their day.
  4. Praise. Give yourself credit for taking the time and give the other person some real appreciation for what they give back. It may not be much at first but a little’s a lot if it’s all you got!

What happens next?

You may be surprised by how much better you feel after you’ve checked up on someone.

One of the articles that I read noted that “You’re connecting with others if you feel better about yourself or the world after you’ve been with them.”  How cool is that?

So – who can you connect with today? Who is that person that you’ve missed chatting with at work or at the gym or where ever? Do you still chat with random strangers?

Today’s artwork is a piece I created when playing with watercolour colouring pencils – a new medium for me. I found a picture online that was classified as connection and went from there. Have an awesome week!

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