There’s a lot to write about connection. And with connection I don’t mean connecting via all kinds of social media, of course. We know very well by now that these do not contribute to our happiness, on the contrary.
In essence, I easily recognize the feeling of connection when I am around the horses. I have learnt that they’re not particularly fond of me when I rush in with my focus on my to do list or with high expectations of what they should do for me that day. They often don’t even bother to come and greet me then and if I persist, I usually get punched or bitten.
But when I go and settle in with the herd to – let’s say – just read a book among them in the paddock, there they are, almost immediately. They let me in. With my body and mind fully present there and then, they welcome me as a safe member of their herd. I instantly feel connected with them, not by doing, but by being.
It always strikes me how much we can learn from these animals. If we really want to connect with others and even more importantly with ourselves, we need to quiet down our minds. Be truly present here and now. Be committed to focus our attention on what is, rather than on what to do.
Stress and hurriedness are lethal to connection and undermine any kind of relationship. No need to say what a challenge connection has become in our always switched-on, hectic and highly demanding society.
And still, we are all social creatures with an innate need to belong and be heard. That is why telling our story – whether it is the one of the day, the week, or that of our life – is so important. One of the great tools for connection is listening. Don’t underestimate the effort to acquire the skill however: for most of us listening is quite a challenge and needs learning and practising. Our egos very often get in the way and want to steal the show. Or our to do’s are leading the way.
It reminds me of my – at the time –6 year old daughter shouting at me a few years ago: “Mom, you are not listening !”. It was one of those wake-up calls. She was right: my focus was not with her, it was with the dishes and the pans I was stirring in. The horses would have bitten me for it. Meanwhile, I have learned to make eye contact with her when she needs it. She then knows that she has my undivided attention, which immediately calms her down.
Connection is a choice, not a coincidence. Whether it is with your colleague, your boss, your child or your partner.