Mental Health

Connections

“Life is a tapestry woven from the threads of our connections”

I attempted to muse thoughtfully via my usual outlet – a Facebook status update.

Recent output on this ‘channel’ had ranged from cheese and wine emergencies, failed attempts to adult and sharing of inspirational memes.( I wonder how many other people spend a great deal of time considering their personal Facebook page as a ‘channel’?) Perhaps this update didn’t quite fit.

What I thought had been a profound and a rather nice metaphor was quite quickly shot down by no less than two family members, I suspect for use of the word ‘tapestry’, in a poignant reminder that maybe social media isn’t the place for these kinds of things. People won’t always read the intention behind a message or feel that yearning for connection.

So I started the day thinking about connection and then ended up really thinking about connection.

The desire to form and maintain meaningful connections fuels everything I do. The fear of disconnection is the single root cause of all my anxieties, fears and shame.

It really does feel that simple. 

I feel like every time I recognise the potential for some kind of connection I should pursue it lest the opportunity be wasted. Furthermore I make it my goal to be open and welcoming to the connections of others. I do sometimes worry I am a little over zealous in these pursuits.

This is why I share on social media. By being open, vulnerable and honest I put myself out there for the potential of connection. When I write, something short and silly or something longer and thoughtful, I want someone to connect with it in some way.

Seeing ‘likes’ lets me know people are reading and enjoying or at least acknowledging my writing. Comments are an invitation to further engagement. Private messages have lead to fantastic sharing and conversation.

Social media and online connection is a wonderful gift that technology provides. I have devices and access to tap into that signal at any given time and forge those connections I so crave. 

But I want to compare these online connections to junk food. They are easily obtainable once you know how and they give a quick fix and a decent high. I do wonder how nourishing they are. 

There is something different in interpersonal connection, something that only comes with eye contact, body language and shared space that just can’t be delivered by technology.

A ‘like’ and a “yes, I agree” comment pales into insignificance when compared with the face to face reaction you get when you realise you share a core value or interest or idea with another person. The excitement, opportunity and promise as those threads form between two people is mind-blowing. When a single conversation weaves thread after thread you can feel the genuine connection forming.

Not every connection has to be deep and profound. By being open to connection you can find it with people you share space with or who’s paths temporarily overlap with yours. These temporary connections are just as important as the lifelong ones.

It’s not just people. You can find connection with a place or even a moment of time. The key is being present. These opportunities are missed when you live entirely in the past or the future. The mindful awareness of what is going on right now is the way to notice those threads and pursue them.

I’m trying to be mindful on my quest for connection. I’m wary of attempting to force a connection where there isn’t a thread or for over zealously pursuing a thread I perceive. I usually have quite a good sense of these things but part of being opening to connection is a certain amount of vulnerability. Often judgement can suffer in a vulnerable place as it can be a scary place to be. The desire for connection can also potentially cloud the observation of the potential.

Some of you may be amongst the people who in the last year I have informed will be my friends. I hope the fact that you are still around is testament to me reading the connection right! I think for as many connections I have pursued I have let others fade, be temporary or never form.

The reason I put extra effort in is because I think that, ironically, fear of disconnection makes us miss the opportunity for connection. We think that if we show vulnerability or openness we might be shunned or teased or rejected for it. Past experiences of pain and hurt can make us wary of opening up to new connections. Not everyone is ready to be a little bit vulnerable or to make the leap so I feel it is ok for me to demonstrate first that I am.

There is hard science behind our need for connection. We are hard wired for it. (I’ve googled it for you) I am going to keep seeking out and keep picking up the threads when I find them.

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