Plug into Connection!
While chatting with a friend about the upcoming holidays, he shared that it felt like a death march and wondered what the point in all of it is. I was taken aback for a moment even though I realize that this time of year can be hard for many of us. We have to remember, among many things, those that are no longer in our lives, the goals we haven’t yet met as the year draws to an end, and some of us face loneliness due to lost relationships. I’ve experienced some of this at holiday time too, so with compassion, I asked my friend, if he felt connected to others. His response was that he feels he is connected to his family, but he seemed unsure. I wondered how connected he really is if he’s feeling so bleak about the holidays and life in general. Connection is a vital part of life and the ingredients of human connection towards others are to be open and available, to have compassion, and to be able to feel and express empathy. All of these ingredients create a feeling of goodwill towards the people we are connecting with.
How do we know if we are genuinely connecting with other people beyond a superficial level? Here are some of my ideas:
1. One way is to be in the moment, allowing ourselves to be who we truly are instead of who we think we should be. When we are no longer thinking about our future worries or things that have gone wrong in the past and are fully available in the moment, we can truly share an experience with another. This creates a sense of belonging and authenticity that fosters connection.
2. Feeling enough trust in someone to share a vulnerable feeling or experience can be a strong way of connecting to someone. Allowing someone to help you by listening or assisting with you a task that you cannot do alone is a way of opening up to someone and letting them know that you need them and trust them. This is part of being open.
3. On the whole, human connection is kind. If we feel empathy and kindness for another person, we should not engage in judgment or criticism of them. Sometimes it might feel like if we are joining in with laughing at someone, we are connecting but this usually feels bad or hollow during or afterwards, which reveals that it wasn’t connection after all. Rather, if we connect with others around helping a person that needs it, we can experience connection based on shared values of kindness.
This holiday season, as you are going about your life, try smiling and making eye contact with others. Invite someone who lives alone to join you and your family and include them in your traditions and festivities. Reach out to someone if you are feeling lonely and ask them to join you for a meal or other activity such as a walk out in nature, or a warm drink at the coffee house. Think about being open and share how you’re feeling in the moment. Connection requires work as do relationships. Not all people will connect with you nor you to them, but your life will be ever so much richer if you can bring yourself to try and keep trying to connect in meaningful ways. Here’s to wishing you a beautiful holiday season and life beyond.