With the divisive tone of our political climate, the endless winter weather here in the Pacific Northwest, and the lack of togetherness generated by way too much time in front of a screen – I’m craving some connection! In case any of you are feeling the same way, I thought I would do a little brainstorming on ways to foster connection as a simple reminder for us all. I hope you find it helpful! So let’s dive in, shall we?
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” – Brene Brown
1. Be Honest.
Honesty is the best policy… even when it’s really, really, hard to tell the truth. I know for myself, I have about 1000x more respect for and feel more connection with people who are honest and authentic. I know I can trust them and that goes a long way towards building meaningful connections.
2. Share your vulnerability.
Nothing connects quite like sharing a vulnerable moment with someone. Needing to ask for help, admitting a weakness, being the first one to say “I love you.”, asking someone out… We all know our own vulnerabilities so well, but often forget that others have them too. We compare our worst parts with what we perceive to be others’ best parts. As my shero Brene Brown says, “We are all imperfect and we are all wired for love and belonging.” When we can see each other as fellow humans – with fears, loves, hopes, traumas, joys – we can find moments of commonality and connection even with the people with whom we think we have the least in common. This can be a really profound practice.
I know for me there are variations to how well I listen. Do you make eye contact? Do you ask meaningful questions? Are you focused on what they are saying or do you interrupt them with your own experiences? Are you caught up in internal dialogue about what they are saying or what your response will be? As Deepak Chopra says, “When you can listen from your heart rather than your head, you’re able to be present while someone else shares. When you feel heard—really heard—by another, it deepens your level of trust and connection with them.” So, so true.
4. Create something together.
There is something about making something with others – whether it be music, a mural, a garden, a story, or a sand castle – that connects us. When you have a common goal, and you invite and value the creative expressions of each participant, a certain synchronicity of energy and magic results. We see it often among children in the midst of imaginative play. Look for opportunities to create with others and enjoy the benefits of the connections and friendships that unfold.
Not exactly a news flash, but minimizing screen time for ourselves and our kids is a really simple way to improve connection. How many nights do you and your partner sit in front of two different screens, side-by-side on the couch after the kids have gone to bed? How often do you check your phone in a day? When was the last time you wrote a letter to a loved one – like with a pen and paper? Try making a personal challenge to see how few hours you can spend in front of screen in a day. Make note of what it does for your feeling of connection by the end of the day. Go retro – instead of making a reminder in your phone, try writing it on a Post-It or your hand. Maybe challenge yourself to write a letter to someone rather than an email. Who knows what could happen? 😉
These are just a few of my favorite ideas that I’m going to try. I’d love to hear your ideas too! Leave a comment below to share your ideas for building connection in your life. Thanks for stopping by!