Being completely independent is overrated.
As a culture, we’re programmed to instill, praise and value a sense of autonomy and we often fail to promote and foster the importance of connection in our lives. In reality, connection is the foundation for developing healthy, secure attachments with others.
One simple definition of connection is that it’s the action of linking one thing with another. However, I prefer this Merriam-Webster definition concerning attachments:
“Connection is the placing of parts of an electric circuit in contact so that a current may flow.”
As an infant and child, connection with a caregiver works as a mirror to inspire emotional attunement. A baby cries, and in response, the mother soothes. The connection with another energetically sends the message, “I see You.”
However, as we grow into adulthood, we are bombarded with many mixed messages related to connection, making it challenging to relearn this authentic primal connection with others. The cadence of our daily interactions and greetings are mostly robotic. For example, “Hey, how are you?” is a common – often superficial — greeting. But what would it be like if we walked around saying “Hey, on a scale of 1-10, how are you?”
This shift begins inward. Connection sprouts from feeling our feelings. If we have trained ourselves to disconnect from our feelings and emotions, how can we genuinely connect with others?
First responders are trained to just “be” with the person after a traumatic experience. The mere presence of another human being sitting in attunement with you is that powerful. This is an extreme example; however, it is possible to have real connections with others daily if we become more aware of our interactions and attachment with others.
A deeper definition of connection is:
“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
Connecting to oneself is the fastest pathway to being able to connect with others. How? Start by playing the feeling game with yourself throughout the day. It’s simple, and it requires you to investigate and be curious about what’s going on inside you.
How am I feeling? Build and expand your feeling words. Here are a few to get you started:
Happy and Joy: Peaceful, proud, content, interested, curious, loving, engaged, valued, intimate, relaxed, elation, zeal, euphoric.
Love: Desire, passionate, tenderness, affectionate, longing, satisfied
Surprised: Awe, startled, amazed, excited
Sad: Shameful, sorry, agony, powerless, remorseful, disheartened, lonely, hurt, guilty
Angry: Bitter, frustrated, skeptical, numb, betrayed, withdrawn, dismissive
Fearful: Anxious, inferior, helpless, overwhelmed, worried, nervous, rejected, insecure, pressure, panic.