Creating Connection through Joy or Turmoil?

Creating a deep, meaningful intimate connection with another human being is something most people cherish.  In fact, many hunger for these moments.   I know I do.   There is something sweet about being able to relate to another human being that goes beyond the superficial.  We love connection so much as human beings that we’ve adapted to a variety of ways to connect that aren’t even necessarily deep and meaningful.  Just “connecting” to another human being meet a fundamental need.  How do you typically connect with others?  What creates connection?

Let’s look at the variety of ways we have to connect — or to relate — to another human being.  We can talk about everyday events, facts, news, trivia, sports or politics.  We connect because there is a topic, experience, or thought that is in common. Commonality creates connection.  I would call this a more “neutral” connection.  But, it gets us talking, and that gets us connecting.Some people connect through sarcasm.  This is another means of viewing the world in a shared way.  If you “get” the sarcasm, the thought or idea is shared.  It seems to be a language in and of itself.

Sometimes we connect out of JOY, when a loved one graduates from school, receives professional recognition or promotion, has a baby or gets married.  Celebrating a moment in life, Memorial Day, 4th of July or Thanksgiving gives us a reason to come together and connect.  When the feelings are genuine, like seeing a friend finish their first marathon, it’s a beautiful connection.  When we feel obligated to show up for an event or holiday out of habit, the connection is lessened.  However, even then, there is something sweet about getting together for an obligatory event. Space and time is shared, there is still purpose in coming together.

We also come together in times of strife.  An ailing family member, divorce, accident, addiction, illness or even depression can trigger new connections or deepen old ones.  While these aren’t joy filled times, they are meaningful.  People often experience an added closeness with a family member after a serious accident, or going through the death of a parent, with a spouse or sibling.  People in Alcoholics Anonymous often create lifelong friendships because of the shared addiction and recovery.  Being there for each other during a crisis means a lot and can strengthen and create connections between all those involved.One of my favorite ways to connect with people is through growth.  Much like working through a tough period, those on a personal growth path find connection in sharing breakthroughs, insights and new levels of awareness.  Numerous communities all over the world have formed because of a concentrated effort on growing.  Coaching thrives on this type of connection (something I love!).

Perhaps on the opposite spectrum is connecting through what I call “lower energy” realms.  Complaining, gossiping, blaming or otherwise commiserating about life is often effective at creating connection.  Certainly, I’ve found myself stepping into this mode when wanting connection with another — and not seemingly having a more optimal means of doing so.Connecting is wonderful no matter what the path, and I don’t want to minimize any form — even complaining (let’s face it, sometimes we do this as human beings).  They are all a part of life, each creating connection in their own unique way.  These connections often stimulate healing and nurturing.  However, if given a choice — are there more healthy and optimal ways to connect than others? When meeting with a stranger or family member, do you gravitate toward one means or another?   Is it easier to connect by sharing a complaint about the screaming children three seats back on the airplane or to share your joy about family and your amazing life?  Fortunately, I’m blessed to have friends that connect predominantly from JOY, a “high energy”, positive manner.  I admire them so much!!  Sharing their joys, successes and breakthroughs puts a genuine smile on their face, and simultaneously allows me to enter their world.  They seem to get as much joy from my success, as I’m experiencing.  Their reciprocal joy actually enhances and deepens my own joy.  Happily, this was my experience at my recent wedding.  How wonderful to connect in this way!!

The friends that habitually connect in this positive manner are my role models.  Yet, even knowing I’d prefer to connect with someone in the “higher energy”, I notice my desire to connect with someone sometimes seduces me into connecting with another in those “lower energy” realms.  I’ve found myself being sarcastic when I’m not normally a sarcastic person.  I’ve found myself complaining about the screaming kids to create conversation.  I find myself sharing apersonal hardship story (lower energy) to bridge my world with another’s.   Isn’t it great when two people understand each other?

Connecting through Turmoil

Tony Robbins says it’s common, and even addicting, to connect with others by relating to the hardships of life.  When we can both relate to being victim, there is connection. Commiserating about government policies, having a partner who fell short of your expectations, going through a financial hardship, feeling frustrated in growing your business, or surviving a life-threatening disease creates a genuine human connection.  We may even continue to stay in a victim mode to keep this path of connection open.  Would we still have this sweet connection without our story of hardship?Conversely, one breast cancer survivor said she stopped telling others she’d had breast cancer because she didn’t want the empathetic connection — she wanted to relate to others in a more positive manner.

Why don’t we connect more through JOY?

In childhood, many of us learned that bragging about oneself isn’t a good thing.  Sharing a win could have someone feel bad because they weren’t experiencing the same joy in their life.  Maybe they weren’t making the kind of income I was, or weren’t in a great relationship.  Perhaps we’ve been conditioned to minimize our joy.  Perhaps we’re just not practiced in connecting through joy.  Perhaps this is a worthwhile pattern to shift.Everything is a CHOICE.  Bringing awareness to the numerous ways we can connect, gives us power.  How do you connect with others?  More importantly, how do you WANT to connect with others?

Soulful CHALLENGE:  I’d like to give us all more permission to CONNECT DEEPLY through joy, both in sharing your own, and in hearing the joy of others.  Notice how it feels.  Perhaps a bit uncomfortable if other means of connection are your default.  Stick with it.  With each joyful sharing, allow another to enter your world a little more deeply.  As you listen to another’s joy and successes allow yourself to experience an even deeper connection with this person.  May we all enjoy connecting through JOY a little more each day.