By Kelly McDonnell-Arnold
If we find ourselves suffering — which as humans, we inevitably will, we can often chalk it up to a lack of connection — one that needs some fixing.
Connection is the human experience of harmony.
Connection is all about sharing experiences with others — Relating our ideas, feelings, and emotions to each other.
The most significant problem in most of our lives is trauma — which also affects our ability to connect with other people. It’s not solely used to describe horrific events either, but anytime something frightens, hurts, or injures us and we don’t do the inner work to move past it, we get trauma in its place.
Shocking events themselves don’t automatically translate into long-term connection suffering; it’s how these events affect our unconscious mind and keep us from leading healthy lives with others we care about.
For humans to be happy, we require a sense of belonging and purpose.
Cultures that practice communal practices are often more healthy psychologically. And the opposite is true for those who favor isolation. They may get sick and die before their more communal, connected counterparts.
Humans are a tribal species. As much as the most introverted among us may intensely crave some alone time, we’re not islands, and we need one another more than some might want to admit sometimes.
If you’re feeling a little (or a lot) lonely or isolated, here are some practical ideas that may help you foster deeper connections.
1. Get to know the feeling of connectedness
The experience of oneness is at the heart of connection and shared experiences. It’s about knowing in your bones that you belong to something bigger than yourself. If you’re enjoying a movie at the theater, you’re connecting with the other movie-goers through your shared experience. Same as when you pull up your chair to the dinner table with your family or friends and share a delicious meal and a few laughs, you’re connecting.
2. Connection in this digital world
In our digital world, we can connect with more people faster than ever before. Except, our communication feels inauthentic, and we’re still left feeling empty and depleted. Connection is a feeling, so the more we can use the digital world to help create and support in-person connections, the stronger our positive emotions will be.
3. Genuinely connect with others
Before we experience true connection, we need to first show up as our genuine selves. While our digital world keeps us connected, it also gives us the ability to filter what we share so that what comes across is our very own personal highlight reel that may not be entirely authentic.
Those who practice real kinship online and use it to stay in touch with others they care about often report a favorable view of social media and online connection tools.
4. Give more than you get
When we show up with our true selves and express our sincere emotions, we can connect on a more profound level with others. When we approach connection by way of seeking approval, attention, or compliments, we end up feeling more disconnected than ever before. So when it comes to connection, starting with ourselves and connecting to our inner selves will help us do the work of creating stronger outer connections.
5. Trust the process
We can trust ourselves so we can trust each other and ultimately trust life. Instead of waiting for others to reach out and spark a relationship, trust the process and take the first step.
Even if we’ve been burned in the past, deep connections start when we fully embody our ability to try again, keep showing up, and keep reaching out — even when it feels awkward and uncomfortable.
If our basic human need is to connect with others, then the most powerful piece of healing our emotional bumps and bruises is letting ourselves open up again. Let’s show up as we are and trust that we’re good enough — exactly how we are today.
If you enjoyed this article about connection, you might like these too:
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About Author: Kelly McDonnell-Arnold MA. MBA. RSW. is a Clinical Sexologist and Psychotherapist with a Master’s degree in Forensic Sexology and a sought after expert and personality in the field of human sexuality.