The Power of Connection: How To Shift The Dynamics to Empower Yourself and Those Around You
by JANIE LOUBSER
Reading Time: 5mins
This month ENLIVEN explores the power of connection, shifting the focus from your connection to yourself (which we’ve covered in previous issues from your desires and your well-being), to your connection with others. The aim of this article is to shed some light on how you can empower yourself and those around you to have healthier connections. By doing this, you will see how it helps fuel your happiness and that of those around you.
Connections are powerful. Yet we are becoming more and more disconnected from each other. We can blame social media but the two main reasons I see in my practice, for this disconnection, is stress and the complicated nature of relationships. If you are stressed and trying to sort out a complicated relationship it makes sense to hide behind your Facebook wall. On the other hand, trying too hard to improve your relationships can have the opposite effect and leave you and the other person feeling like you are tied into a Gordian knot*. What complicates this knot even further, is that we actually long for connection.
noun / an extremely difficult or involved problem.
We read that relationships can increase our longevity and we all long for the security and sense of belonging that relationships can bring. Couples, especially, end up in my room saying: I feel awful with you and I feel awful without you. This is not a couples’ problem only. As a society, we tend to approach our happiness and success as an individual mission, even a secret mission, as we deliberately exclude others from our dreams and dilemmas.
I want to suggest that the pursuit of happiness is an individual and a collective mission. It’s really two sides of the same coin – by taking responsibility for your happiness and reaching out to your community you can increase your quality of life. We have to acknowledge that we want closeness and connection. Our community is not just for socializing and relaxation, it is also to help each other live easier. By connecting with others you can change your life and those around you.
That’s why this month, we have shifted the focus from connecting with yourself to connecting with others. They are, however, not separate. By being interested in what makes you happy you are much more likely to be supportive of others’ happiness. By taking responsibility for your own happiness and well-being you are resourced – calm, energised, kind, compassionate, even inspiring – and this can mean so much more to others making them interested and actually want to engage. Connections empower us and even help us thrive.
For relationships to be empowering you first have to look at yourself. You are an individual with your own values and responsibilities. You also have the need to give to others and to receive from others. It is when these different dynamics are not clear that relationships become complicated and even abusive. By admitting that we all have something that we want we can soften power imbalances and unhealthy dependency on each other.
There will be times when you need to be on your own figuring out what you want and taking care of yourself; there will be times when you are flowing and can give to others; there will also be times when you feel hopeless and need all the help you can get. And as you surrender to these different dynamics and not try to control them you will find yourself living a life where all these dynamics are integrated and where giving and receiving feel like the same thing. And it will feel good.
We untie the Gordian knot by having honest conversations with ourselves and with each other. You have to be interested in your own happiness and those of others. You take care of your own well-being and then you encourage others to do the same. You also have to face your fears and then be willing to listen to others’ fears even if they come to you with blame and defence. We have to tell our stories and listen to the stories of others. The more we open up and the more we listen, the less fearful we will be of each other and the less we feel afraid. This makes it easier and more interesting to share because we feel genuinely heard. When we stop being afraid we can tune into ourselves and each other. This creates a safe space where we can connect authentically.
When I started writing this article, I intended to show how your relationship with yourself determines the quality of your relationships with others and ultimately your quality of life. Having thought about it more deeply, I realised there's more to it than this. Returning to the couple sitting in my room: If they decide to merely stay 'connected' so they can have an easy life, they could run into more trouble. You see, connections are not just there to make life easier, but to change you. If however we choose to stay connected with the willingness to be changed by the connection, miracles can happen.
Stay tuned over the next few weeks where you can learn practical tips on how to improve your ability to really listen to connect. If you feel ready to improve your connection with yourself and others, but could use some guidance we've created a quick and powerful Guide that will take you through the questions that will cut through the static and get straight to the heart of connection, helping you unlock what it is you want for yourself, others and get clarity on any dilemmas you may be facing that are making you feel stuck right now..