Our human need for connection is undeniable. A baby likely wouldn’t survive without human touch. It’s built into our DNA. It’s a nutrient that we absolutely must have in order to not only survive but to thrive.
Dr. Gabor Maté, a world-renowned physician, works with addiction and addicts in Vancouver’s lower east side. His research led him to discover that addiction issues are almost always a result of a lack of connection and loneliness.
He adds that there are four core areas to consider when looking at our need for connection.
Those areas are connection with the self, with others, with our work and with our environment.
If you are lacking in one of these areas, you can live a decent life. But, if you are lacking in more than one, chances are you’re not feeling very good.
You can sense that something vital is missing from life.
Let’s take a look at each area to get you thinking about your own life and where improvements can be made.
Connection with SELF
- Do you know the REAL you?
- Do you know what deeply inspires and motivates you?
- Do you feel lonely when you are alone? What about when you’re not alone?
These questions will help you get a base understanding of where you’re at in this area.
Getting to know yourself on a deep level can be one of the most rewarding activities this life has to offer.
Believe it or not, many report that doing inner work is one of the best ways to overcome feelings of loneliness.
Another benefit of getting to know yourself even better than you do now is that you are able to show up more authentically in business and personal life.
This is because your confidence also increases as a result of doing the work.
Connection with OTHERS
- Do you feel close with your family?
- Do you relate to your co-workers on a fundamental level?
- Do your friends support you and are they willing to call you on your bullsh*t?
Society seems to encourage us to hide our true selves so that we will be accepted.
Many find themselves feeling lonely in crowded rooms and feeling like they just don’t relate to the people around them. You are NOT alone.
Here are a couple of tips to help you move forward in this area.
First, make sure you are actively pursuing getting to know yourself intimately.
Then, surround yourself with the right people. These are the people who lift you up and support you. They are willing to call you on your sh*t, but in a loving way.
Finally, Brené Brown created the anatomy of trust, which is imperative to have in healthy relationships.
Without trust, there is no connection. Without connection there is no intimacy, which is what we, on a core level, crave.
Brené outlines what creates trust with a nice acronym, B-R-A-V-I-N-G.
- B - Boundaries
- R - Reliability
- A - Accountability
- V - (the) Vault
- I - Integrity
- N - Non-judgement
- G - Generosity
A good place to start with this acronym is to do an assessment of your current relationships and see how they fair.
Try taking the five closest people to you and rating each element of trust out of 10.
Connection with WORK
We’ve looked at who you ARE and how authentic you feel you can truly BE. Now let’s consider what you DO.
- Do you feel inspired by the work you do?
- Do you see yourself working at your current job for the next 5, 10, 25 years?
- Do you work with people that you trust and relate to?
Chances are, if someone refers to their job as the ‘9-to-5 grind’ they probably aren’t too excited to hop out of bed in the morning.
There’s a big difference between working a job to solve a problem (serving at a restaurant to pay off a student loan, for example) and working a job just to get by and pay the bills.
Working to solve a problem has an end in sight, but working just for the sake of working doesn’t carry much inspiration with it.
Again, getting to know your self will help in this area. Start learning about what you love to do. Make a list of all the things you would be doing if you didn’t HAVE to go to a job you hate.
Perhaps you love video games and organizing. Well, perhaps your local video game store is hiring.
Maybe you love talking to people, a fast pace atmosphere while being creative. Well, bartending fits that bill.
Certain industries seem to attract certain personalities, so that’s an excellent consideration too.
Connection to ENVIRONMENT
- Do you feel joy walking up to and entering your home?
- Do you feel connected to the food you eat?
- Do you enjoy the city and neighbourhood that you live in?
Your connection to your environment includes all sorts of things from the food you eat to the city you live in.
Connecting to the food you eat can dramatically increase the joy you get from creating and consuming meals.
What do I mean?
Well, let’s say you get your meat and veggies from the local farm fresh market. You’re going to start developing a relationship with those people and have a closer connection (quite literally) to those food items. They now have meaning and a story. You can learn about the farm and some of the animals, too.
What about connection to your city? Do you like the vibe of the city overall? And how about the community you live in? Are you close to nature? Does that even matter to you?
A very important connection is the one to your home. Does it fill you with joy to pull up to your place and walk through the door? Does it smell nice? Have you decorated in a way that puts a smile on your face?
This is an area worth exploring and considering all of the different connections related to what’s around you.
Take a quick assessment of where you are at with each of these four core areas. Answer the three questions at the top of each section out of 10 and then add each section up for a total score out of 30.
Begin by focusing on the lowest area, and work towards assessing and improving each area a little bit every day, week or month depending how you like to do things.
For example, if Connection to SELF scored the lowest 12/30, then start by exploring ways to connect on a deeper level with yourself.
This is just a great way to see where you stand with the connections in your life and then find a way to expand them.
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See you on the inside!