In our daily podcast, this week Spencer and I are focusing on encouraging our listeners to be separate AND connected. For some this very rare, once in a lifetime opportunity to be at home can bring up some things in our relationships that we may not have really taken a look at without this situation we all find ourselves in right now. Some of us find ourselves cooped up with people to the point of feeling a bit loony, while others are feeling very alone due to being by themselves. What if you are home bound with others and still feel alone? What if you are together, yet feel disconnected?
I am going to share some insights I learned in the past few days from Dr. Nicole Lepera (AKA The Holistic Psychologist) – that you may find helpful in understanding some confusing feelings you may have around your connections with family, friends, spouses or really anyone at any time.
There is a difference between a BOND and a RELATIONSHIP. A BOND is belonging through familiarity and or physical closeness. A RELATIONSHIP is a connection where both people express an emotional desire to deeply KNOW each other. To do this also, in my opinion, requires each person to also have a desire to deeply know themselves, their own emotions and the willingness to share that.
This nuance in language was quite eye opening and clarifying for me around some confusing feelings I have in relationships at times. What you may be experiencing is that you have a bond with family members or others – and not actually a relationship. You share physical proximity and a familiarity and maybe even history or blood lines, yet there is a disconnect perhaps. We can even end up shaming ourselves that we don't feel closer to someone than we think we "should". Bonds can feel very safe and still lack that authentic emotional connection we all crave.
Relationships are authentic emotional connections and Dr. Lepara says they have an important distinction: there is this emotional connection and a wanting to really KNOW the other person as well as know yourself. There is clear communication, boundaries, an openness and safety between you. A whole lot of us, me included, are not very skilled at creating these deeper emotional connections. The great news is that it is a skill set that we can learn.
For more clarity, Dr. Lepera shared some examples of a lack of authentic emotional connection.
They may include:
+Often incessant teasing or mocking as an attempt to feel close or a replacement for real connection. This is not to say there isn’t room for teasing or playfulness in relationships. Some people use teasing and joking to protect themselves rather than have to authentically connect – same could be said for being angry much of the time. It's a shield that prevents deep connection with vulnerable emotions.
+Lacking authentic interest in your inner feelings and the experience you’re having in life. This is a big indicator of whether you’re in a bond with someone or a relationship.
+There is a fear of upsetting the other person by saying “no” or disagreeing with them. Walking on eggshells. Rearranging yourself to keep the peace.
+Gossiping, venting or shared worry as a way to express love – hot wiring a connection through shared complaining or fear. This one is easy to fall into, it’s not authentic connection but instead using externals to create a connection.
Brene’ Brown in her most recent book “Dare To Lead” lists the biggest obstacle to courage and daring leadership is not fear – but how we armor up in our response to fear. Well – try this one on for size in light of what I’m offering up here on what authentic relationships… "Safety is not the absence of a threat. It is the presence of connection." - Gabor Mate'
Humans are hardwired for connection. If we choose to keep those connections surface based, either due to our own armor or a lack of interest in deeply KNOWING each other – then just know that you will have bonds with people, but not relationships. It’s certainly an option you can choose. There is nothing wrong with bonds. They serve an important purpose.
1. Am I trying to force a connection that is a bond - to behave like a relationship?
2. Where do I want to place my time and energy? Bonds or relationships?
3. If I want a relationship with someone, am I expressing a genuine interest to really know this person? Am I making an emotional investment in making that happen by being curious and not making assumptions?
4. What am I doing today to create an authentic emotional connection with myself?
5. Is the other person willing or capable of creating an authentic emotional connection with me?
For me, I am really clear that what I want are authentic emotional connections… AKA relationships. To do this I must have the curiosity, desire, & the willingness to really deeply KNOW others and to not hide myself or my own feelings in that process. This is all a skill set that takes practice. We CAN learn this and it takes willingness as well as awareness. I'm on the path with you, learning and growing.
Sandy Edie Hansen
I use this space to "Chat" about things I am working through and learning in my life currently. Join me!