“I’ve been feeling disconnected from you lately,” I told a friend recently. “That’s strange,” she replied, “I feel very connected. You’ve been on my mind a lot lately.” This simple interaction got me thinking about how we all experience this thing called connection differently. What does connection really mean? What does it feel like? How many types are there? This week, let’s explore the answers to these questions and discover what you can do to create more meaningful connections with others.
This Thing Called Connection
We live in a coherent and interconnected universe. Connection is, in its simplest form, the glue that binds us – that feeling of being part of something larger and connected to its parts. We can feel connected to people, animals, ideas, places, and even objects. It’s often said that connection forms the foundation of any relationship – the basis upon which all else is built. Without connection, there is no relationship.
Connection is incredibly powerful because it helps us build trust and strengthen our relationships with one another. It allows us to create bonds that transcend time and space. In our interpersonal relationships, to be truly connected to others is to share something far deeper than mere acquaintanceship or friendship; it’s to feel a true sense of belonging with others.
Four Levels of Connection
There are four primary levels of connection we can experience with others: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. To my friend, feeling connected meant holding me in her thoughts – the mental type of connection. And there’s nothing wrong with that. This is one way of experiencing connection.
But your heart seeks a deeper level of connection; the same one Brené Brown refers to in “The Gifts of Imperfection.” In her book, she defines connection as “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
The type of connection she describes includes and transcends the level of our minds to encompass the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of our being. This, I believe, is the only place where genuine, meaningful heart-to-heart connections can be made, grown, and developed.
As Heart Leaders, our job is to create and experience more of these types of connections on a day-to-day basis. The way to do this is by giving top priority to those relationships we value most and showing up fully for ourselves and the other person at all four levels.
To be present physically means you’re there, physically, for others; they can count on your physical presence, your heartbeat, your gentle touch, and your warm embrace. “I am here for you,” you tell others.
To be present mentally is to hold others in your mind, thoughts, awareness, and at the center of what you know is that mental universe in which you and the other exist together. “You’re in my thoughts,” you tell them.
To be present emotionally means you allow yourself to be real and vulnerable with others, holding a safe and loving space for them to be themselves without trying to change them, heal them, or fix them. “You’re in my heart,” you tell them.
To be present spiritually is to be the witness of others’ existence. You hold a higher possibility for them and honor the greater reason you came into each other’s life. “There’s a purpose for which God brought you and me together,” you tell them.
How to Create Meaningful Connections with Others
If you’re committed to creating more meaningful connections with others, here are several things you can do:
- Start with openness and respect, allowing yourself to be authentically you in every encounter.
- Show interest in the other person’s experiences, beliefs, values, and dreams.
- Ask meaningful questions that go beyond surface-level conversation topics.
- Connect on a deeper level by offering insights and stories from your own life journey that are relevant to the conversation.
- Commit to really listening and hearing what the other person has to say without judgment or expectation of any particular outcome.
- Create moments of shared understanding by expressing your personal perspective and being willing to be vulnerable with them.
- Demonstrate that you care about their well-being by taking an active role in the conversation and providing support when needed.
- Respect their boundaries and take care not to overstep any limits they set for themselves or the relationship.
- Make space for authentic connection, growth, and transformation by being open to all that may come from even the most difficult conversations.
- Last but not least, always be generous with your appreciation for their presence and willingness to be open with you.
By nurturing a strong bond, not only will you deepen your connection, but also cultivate a safe and secure space that encourages meaningful conversations to flourish. Genuine and heartfelt conversations are the foundation upon which meaningful relationships are built.
Looking back on the conversation with my friend, I wanted to tell her all this, but I didn’t. I wanted her to know I needed to feel seen, heard, and valued. Not from a place of neediness, but from the basic human need to feel more connected to each other, not just mentally or electronically via Social Media, but also physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
I needed to feel more of this thing called connection.
From my heart to yours,