Human connections…the need to meet soul to soul

We like the feeling of connection, the feeling when someone ‘gets us’ yet we tend to avoid it.

I love my iPhone and how I can coach someone on the other side of the globe without even leaving my sofa. I love that I can have a group meeting in my sitting room without needing to change from my pyjamas, love seeing my friends’ new born babies before taking the trip to visit them and I love making purchases from a cafe or train or park. Write now, I’m writing this post in the passenger seat of my husband’s car whilst we thunder along the motorway. There are lots of advantages to holding a powerful computer in the palm of your hand…but doesn’t it mean we miss much of our present? Doesn’t it mean we miss opportunities that are right under our noses because our noses are pressed to the screen of our technology of choice? We make an order in a cafe and collect our drink without ever looking at the barista, we sit in a room with our family and, rather than discussing our day we each sit in our own little bubble on our respective electronic device.

How have we managed to forget how to look at our awesome world? To forget the very natural and beautiful connection we can share with our fellow humans? To forget the joy and empathy of pure and honest communication without hidden agenda?

Because we’ve lost the connection to ourselves. I go into this in more detail in my post Your relationship with you; love yourself

We are told that living in the now a powerful way to avoid overthinking (you may like to read my post Overthinking. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!) but it isn’t stressed enough how necessary simple, joyful, perfectly natural human connections are for our emotional, physical and mental health. Our hearts sing when we share a multisensory interaction with another person; we bask in the feeling that, in that moment, we are all that matters to them, we are the centre of their world and we feel reciprocally that our time is theirs and for the time we are together, they will have our full attention. In that space we hold together, there is a joy that we have practically lost under the piles of thoughts and overthoughts, and under the self criticism. We may still take the time with a new lover or new born but very quickly become bored and drift back to the speed, simplicity and scope of our handheld devices. Most of us are lucky enough to have the opportunity to connect to another living soul, several times a day…and we throw most of them away. It’s easy to forget, in our fast paced lives, that the people we meet along the way are just like us, with interests and joys, fears and insecurities, families and hobbies; with the craving for validation and acceptance just like ours. So we don’t even listen to what they say. We find ourselves muttering a response, hoping the sound of our non committal murmur is in somewhere near appropriate. This moment with them will never be replicated, it is a unique point of time and space, when we can choose to connect at a human level….or we can keep our smartphone blinkers on and let it pass by, unnoticed. If people aren’t walking around with their eyes glued to their mobile, they wear the glazed expression we have when our thoughts are elsewhere. I try to smile at people when I pass them on the street but even out of those that register my presence, extremely few return my smile; they simply aren’t looking to connect and that has become a habit. It seems very sad that we have become so scared of any interaction that could possibly cause them discomfort that we have thrown the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. I don’t see this as a reason to stop trying, I see that I should try harder.

What’s the worst that could happen?

What if we were to drop the insecurity and fear of human closeness and make ourselves fully available to the people we are with….whether they be friends, acquaintances, waitresses, fellow bus passengers or anyone else. What if we allowed ourself to feel the simple pleasure of holding someone in our attention. Once people feel the unusual and mostly forgotten interest you have in them, it gives them permission to extend that care to you too. The more we hold peoples’ eyes or actually listen to what they have to say, you’ll find it becomes easier and easier. If we don’t succeed immediately, because of people’s unfamiliarity with sharing, then we haven’t lost anything. Understanding that our eyes have not been met, our compliments ignored or our conversation initiation unnoticed because this type of interaction is unusual for them too, not because they’re deliberately spurning you, so there is no need for you to feel rebuffed.

There is nothing to lose by simply being friendly, and so, so much to gain. It is not just in everyday situations that we can grow from being present but in all the interactions we worry are going to be unpleasant; meeting our bank manager, being called in to see our boss, needing to explain to an employee that they are not meeting standards, to name just few. All these situations and indeed all situations, are improved when we accept others without judgement and truly listen to their point of view. By opening ourselves up to them so that they can see our vulnerability, they feel far less insecure by meeting us in that humanness. We come alive when we communicate, even if only for a few seconds, at a deep rather than superficial level with someone; the validation we give and receive, recharges our batteries; reenergises us.

I would never suggest that we give up our technology addictions or that our devices don’t add to our lives but there is a time and place for them and that experiencing the here and now is at least as beneficial to us. So let’s be approachable, be open, be caring, be generous with our time, and notice our stress levels and their associated unpleasant symptoms start dropping away.

Enjoy every bit of your week and next time, I’ll be looking at how we can’t move forward with our lives until we stop holding ourselves back. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Catherine x

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