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  • Hannah Hall

Connection with Others

Updated: Jul 29, 2022

I’m guessing many of you have heard the word “resilient” or resiliency” used in relation to stress and trauma, but it is something that is important for us humans to know about and develop no matter our developmental background. Why? Because life is hard sometimes, and our ability to “bounce back” after difficult, trying, and complex experiences (or during!) is important. There are three main categories that are talked about and emphasized when thinking about resiliency. One is connection with others (relationships, attachment), another is connection with self (self-regulation), and the third is achievement (competency). In today’s article we’re going to focus on connection with others, as it seems a hard thing to do recently!

We all need connection with others. Really, we do. I am speaking as an extrovert; however, how many of us can truly exist as healthy people without support, care, and connection? I’d argue no one. Relationships - caregiver/child, extended family, romantic, and peer to peer - are wonderful and difficult, life giving and stressful, complex and...complex. But that is what brings the wholeness, goodness, and humanity to ourselves and others. Being able to have joy AND experience conflict and difficulty within a relationship often makes it stronger as long as there is respect and trust.

As technology has grown and developed, it has both been easier and harder to connect with others. Add the pandemic on top of that, and many of us get stuck feeling isolated and disconnected. Here are some important things to remember in order to connect more with others:

1. If it’s not a two-way conversation/communication, it’s not a relationship. Whether over social media, text, phone calls, or in person, relationships should be a mutual experience. If you’re texting a friend back and forth, that’s a relationship and connection. If you’re scrolling through Instagram, you’re witnessing other people’s connections (or disconnections), but it’s not a relationship connection for you (you can argue that if you comment on a friend’s post, there’s connection, but it’s not as mutual as DMing someone…), and often causes anxiety and depression instead. If you’re in a romantic relationship and you feel afraid to share your opinions or emotions, it’s not a mutual relationship or positive connection. You deserve to be heard and have response from your friendships and relationships.

2. Be vulnerable. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. It’s messy. BUT it brings connection, deepens relationships, and opens doors. It might not be received well by others, but you can only control your own behavior - not another person’s behavior or response. Often, when we’re able to be vulnerable, it opens up the door for others to be vulnerable as well, making room for our common humanity. Vulnerability does not mean letting someone walk over you. Being vulnerable means being honest about what you feel, even if that means setting boundaries or expressing anger.

3. Don’t avoid conflict. Conflict is a part of life! It’s helpful to be gracious, caring, and compassionate in conflict instead of aggressive or passive aggressive (which is still avoiding conflict). I often think about conflict as the process of setting better boundaries for yourself and others.

4. Push yourself to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and awkward. We’re all awkward! There! I said it! You might think that girl in school or that dad on the PTA or that woman in the business suit have it all together, but they probably don’t. The people who have it the most together are the ones who know they’re awkward and embrace it! When we talk with others, even when we know them, it’s often uncomfortable and awkward, but it helps us to grow, connect, and be more comfortable showing our true selves. Which is the whole point.

5. Be yourself. As much as you feel safe doing, of course. Notice the people that you feel more comfortable and safe around, those are your supports, your people. They will be there for you when you need them. We all know how much better it feels when we can show more of ourselves - the good parts and the weird or shameful parts - to another and be accepted no matter what!

If you’d like to read more about connection, I suggest reading and listening to Brene Brown. If you are or know someone who is a young adult and is seeking connection right now, let them know about our new virtual Google Meet connection group for young adults (20ish-39ish) on Wednesdays at noon called “Shootin’ the Sh!t.” BYOLunch.

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