The art of authentic connection
In order to experience true connection with someone, we need to be tuned in to our authentic being. Only from this inner closeness can we effectively communicate our needs, desires, beliefs and preferences. It takes effort and work to get to know ourselves underneath the layers and layers of social conditioning. The process is not about going outside to find something new but about going within to uncover our original uncorrupted nature.
We have been taught that when something does not seem right, we need to fix it. We have been handed down many quick fixes that mask symptoms but do not offer any real solutions. The truth is that we cannot bypass our self-expansion. We must take all the necessary steps to evolve from the place we are at. And this changes for each one of us, depending on our karma and dharma (i.e. what we yet must learn and what we have already mastered). We learn experientially, the lessons we master, we integrate within our cells, they become part of who we are.
A great starting point is to begin to acknowledge all our feelings, the ones that are socially acceptable and the ones that are not, the ones we understand and the ones we do not. Each time we encounter a different aspect of ourselves, we can integrate it by saying out loud: “This is also me”. This will help us to get to know our inner landscape. It is a fun exercise, if you want to take it further, you can name the different aspects of personalities and imagine their voices and outfits, in order to be able to recognize them better. We seem to think we are one coherent individual but, we function more like a complete town. If we do not get to know our townspeople, we cannot run the show.
When we connect with others, our townspeople get together with their townspeople. If we are not emotionally aware, we will get very confused and chances are we will eventually become defensive and reactive. Next time you are distressed about someone’s behavior, chose to honor your feelings by not blaming or labeling the other person, instead express what your perception of the situation is from your unique point of view and allow space for constructive opportunities.
Let´s say Mary comes back home from work, she enters her living room, where her husband is watching TV. He looks at her as she opens the door and resumes watching TV without saying anything. Mary feels bad and decides to express herself by:
A-Blaming the other person and hiding her vulnerability:“Peter, you are the rudest person I know. How can you ignore me like this?”. This manner of speaking is reactive and assumes Mary as a victim and Peter as a perpetrator. There is no constructive opportunity here. Mary is assuming that Peter´s behavior is ill intended to cause her harm and is not acknowledging the fact that the feelings are hers to own.
B-Honoring her feelings and giving the other person an opportunity to do something good: “When I come back home from work and you do not welcome me home with a hug or a kiss, I feel ignored, sad and lonely. It would mean a lot to me if you could acknowledge me even for a little while and then resume whatever you are doing¨. This style of communication accurately expresses her inner world, while opening the possibility for Peter to understand her and if he decides, change his behavior accordingly.
When in communication with others, we must never forget that everything is about our point of view and perceptions are as unique as fingerprints. There are no two people that see the world in the same way. Communication is an art to be mastered and not a mathematical equation to be followed.