Although the symptoms may vary – depression, anxiety, relationship issues – when exploring these further, one of the (if not the) factors at hand is a loss of connection of one type or another. From what are we specifically disconnected?
There are a triad of connections: Self, Others & Greater Than. It is worthwhile, especially when we are feeling ‘off’, lonely, and the obvious, disconnected, to take a closer look at these.
Connection with Self
Connecting with Self encompasses acknowledging and emoting our feelings, tuning into and acting upon our intuition, and the awareness of inner thoughts. It concerns us knowing our wants, values, purpose, and what brings us meaning and what matters. It requires honesty, humility, and effort.
When we are connected with self we feel self-love, self-worth, self-compassion, and even contentment, happiness, joy and peace.
Ways to deepen our connection to self involves being by one’s self enjoying whatever (hobbies, passions) brings states of peace, calm, and “I am ok!” It involves taking time for body scans, feeling our feelings, journaling, relaxing, and being still with our thoughts.
Connection with Others/Community
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
— Saint Teresa of Calcutta
Connecting with others involves sharing of our time, skills and items, service of any kind, attending group events or activities, volunteering, and supporting others. It also involves being vulnerable, expressing our truths and feelings, being open to learn from others, and gives us a sense that we do matter to others (made someone’s day or moment better in some way).
Ways to deepen our connection to others: For the most part, put down the ‘social’ media. Yes, we can call and face time people we connect with, yet for the rest of the time – get out, get out, get out! Even if we go out solo and know no one, aim for some eye contact, some greetings and perhaps some small conversation (even if about the weather).
Some of us may have to refresh or improve our reflective listening skills and perhaps even face some (social or other) anxiety to do this, but connection with others is key for our sense of belonging.
Connection with Higher Power – something greater than us
This is the connection to some ‘thing’ greater than us. It can be a God or god, nature, love, universal guidance or energy. It can come in the form of spirituality, religion, faith or other.
Here we often ponder the meaning of life, the purpose of being, ‘Who am I?’, ‘What’s the point?’, and other existential questions.
This connection takes the form of prayer, meditation, readings, and gratitude and appreciation to something outside us. These can be integrated into our daily life, deepening our purpose, focus, and energy. We often feel loved, protected and blessed in these moments.
When we lack connection we sometimes are drawn to finding connections in unhealthy relationships, activities (devices, shopping, working, eating, etc.) and even thinking (worrying, obsessing). These can lead to detrimental habits and even addictions [For more read this article].
Indeed, as Johann Hari (Check out his TedTalk, “Everything You Know about Addiction is Wrong.”) said, “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.”
“Such a desperate search for reassuring connection is the birth of addictions – through the connection with the other [person, substance or behaviour] there is a momentary lowering of the existential angst which the [person] has always lived.” ~ James Hollis
For further work on ‘the birth” or root of our lack of “reassuring connection”, we can explore our childhoods. Look for examples of how well were these three connections fostered or hindered.
- How were we taught to connect with our bodies and feelings?
- What emphasis was placed on social and family connections, quality time and good listening skills?
- How much value was placed on wondering about nature, wonders unknown, and existential ideas?
- Did we develop a true sense of who we were and how we fit in to this world?
What negative and limiting beliefs and habits about connections remain?