The Disease of Disconnection

don__t_belong_here__by_perhydrol

We are in crisis!

A crisis of disconnection.

True connection, real, authentic and deep connection is becoming harder to come by and frankly, it appears we are losing skills that are really too valuable to let go off.

In our fast paced world, where time is money and looking good is more important than connection, we have create a culture where authentic connection is no longer valued in the same way it once was. This certainly appears to have bought great change to our society, and in my opinion, not for the better.

Do you remember a time when you shopped at a store and knew the majority of the staff who you would happily chat with? A time where you would give your postman a present at Christmas  because he had been bringing your family the mail for the last ten years? A time when a friendship was about hanging out and conversation, instead of snapchats, insta pic’s and texting?

I was reading a great article this morning by Dan Schawbel , he was interviewing one of my all time favourite women,  Brene Brown on Why Human Connection will bring us closer and the article covered many great distinctions. One of the most powerful ones is around the fact that fear is keeping us separated.

Brene Brown said “We’ve sorted ourselves into factions based on our politics and ideology. We’ve turned away from one another and toward blame and rage. We’re lonely and untethered. And scared. Any answer to the question “How did we get here?” is certain to be complex. But If I had to identify one core variable that magnifies our compulsion to sort ourselves into factions while at the same time cutting ourselves off from real connection with other people, my answer would be fear. Fear of vulnerability. Fear of getting hurt. Fear of the pain of disconnection. Fear of criticism and failure. Fear of conflict. Fear of not measuring up. When we ignore fear and deny vulnerability, fear grows and metastasizes. We move away from a belief in common humanity and unifying change and move into blame and shame. We will do anything that gives us a sense of more certainty and we will give our power to anyone who can promise easy answers and give us an enemy to blame.”

I found this paragraph very interesting as it reminded me of the three universal fears that every human being is contending with each day.  They are:

  • The fear of not being enough
  • The fear of not belonging
  • The fear of not being loved

Whether or not you identify these fears within yourself consciously, it has been proven that they are in operation within all of us.  The variable though, is how we manage them. For some people, they are very small and have a low impact on their lives, for others, these fears dominate each waking moment.

It seems so topsy turvey that in pursuit of minimising these fears we have actually magnified them.  We portray ourselves as having tons of friends who we are constantly doing cool stuff with on social media yet we are more lonely than ever.

We dress in certain clothes and go to certain places to feel like we belong, like we are part of a tribe but really all we are trying to do is fit in, blend in and be enough. Its not true belonging at all.

Brown goes on to say “True belonging is not passive. It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer. It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are. If we are going to change what is happening in a meaningful way we’re going to need to intentionally be with people who are different from us. We’re going to have to sign up and join, and take a seat at the table. We’re going to have to learn how to listen, have hard conversations, look for joy, share pain, and be more curious than defensive, all while seeking moments of togetherness”

What stands out in what Brown says, is that it’s all about vulnerability, truly letting ourselves be seen, even if that brings up fear in us.  Until we are prepared to be uncomfortable, to take a chance, then we will continue to repeat the patterns that we have formed.

As much as technology is a powerful tool and there is certainly much to be grateful for, I am sadden that the cost of it has been a diminishment of authentic and deep connection.

If you would like to read the full article, check out Forbes Magazine

The Five Love Languages

 

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Would it be useful for you to know how to love your partner in exactly the way they want to be loved? Would you like to have your partner love you in a way that totally fills your tank up?

I imagine your answer is a resounding yes! I mean, we all want to be loved, especially in the way that is most meaningful to us.

Humans are such fascinating creatures. At times we all seem so very different and then at other times, we seem so similar. Often at the beginning of relationships, all we see are the similarities, then – as time goes on – we start to notice the differences. Sometimes the differences become so vast that the relationship struggles to stay together.

Doing the work that I do, there is one thing I know for sure – and that is that humans have patterns and those patterns become predictable once we have an understanding of them.

For example, a pattern of behaviour that you may already have awareness of is that of the extrovert and the introvert. If you know that your friend is an extrovert, then you can predict with a high level of accuracy that when you take that person to a party they will comfortably find someone to chat with and before long they will have made new friends. Oppositely, if you take your introvert friend to the party, you know that they will either want to stay near you for a while or maybe just chat to one or two people throughout the party. They won’t be drawing attention to themselves and will be less eager to tear up the dance floor.

When it comes to love (how we show it and how we like to receive it) there are also patterns. These patterns were discovered and made famous by a man called Dr Gary Chapman.

Dr Chapman has a background in the church and throughout his years as a minister and counsellor he worked with thousands of people – many of them married. Over the years he identified five distinct patterns in how people love each other. He also noted that often, when a marriage or relationship was in crisis, it was because the couple were showing their love to each other in different ways. Because of that, the partner would misunderstand an act of love and the moment would pass.

The Five Love Languages is one of the most simple, yet effective frameworks that I utilise in helping people create happier relationships. When we can communicate our love in a way that is desired by our partner we create stronger bonds and are more equipped to weather the storms of life together.

When we are miscommunicating our love (or our love is not being understood) it is like a person speaking Japanese to a Chinese-speaking person and then wondering why they are not being understood. They are two very different languages!

So what are The Five Love Languages?

  1. Words of Affirmation: This is all about expressing love and affection through words, praise, compliments, acknowledgement and appreciation. Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If your love language is words of affirmation then genuine compliments and positive words will mean the world to you. Being told “I love you”; “You are a great dad/mum”; or “I am blessed to be with you” will make your heart sing and you will feel truly loved.
  2. Quality Time: If Quality Time is your primary love language, nothing says, “I love you” like full, undivided attention. Being present for this type of person is critical – with the TV off, knives and forks down and the phone away. This will make your significant other feel truly special and loved. It’s all about being in the same place and focusing on each other.
  3. Receiving Gifts: This love language isn’t all about materialism. The receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift – no money even needs to be spent. It could be a flower brought in from the garden, a poem, or bringing home your partner’s favourite chocolate bar. If you speak this love language, a beautiful gift or heartfelt gesture shows that you are seen, you are cared for, and you are valued.
  4. Acts of Service: Can doing the dishes or washing the car really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service Person” is a powerful demonstration of love. Feeling supported through assistance and acts of service shows a level of thoughtfulness that fills up this person’s love tank.
  5. Physical Touch:  A person whose primary language is physical touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. They love hugs, holding hands, gentle touches on the arm or shoulder when walking past each other, as well as all of the more private moments of intimacy. Physical touch shows this type of person that they are loved and cared for. Physical presence and accessibility are extremely important.

Here is an example from the book that highlights the misunderstanding that can happen when we speak different love languages:

A husband said:

“I mow the grass every Saturday after I wash the car. I vacuum every Thursday night. I do the dishes at least four nights a week. I help with the laundry. I do all of this and she says that she “does not feel loved” – I don’t know what else to do”.

His wife’s response was:

“He is right. He is a hard-working man”. Then she began to cry and said, “But we don’t ever talk. We haven’t talked in thirty years”. She is dying for ‘Quality Time’, while he is speaking ‘Acts of Service’.

This example is such a great illustration of two people who are communicating through different love languages and it having a serious impact of how loved they feel. The husband has such good intentions and really believes that he is demonstrating his love by easing the household workload – yet it totally misses the mark for her.

Self-awareness and knowledge are power! If you feel that you could have a more connected and more loving relationship, then I highly recommend reading The Five Love Languages. Dr Chapman even has an online quiz you can do to work out what your own primary and secondary love languages are – and this could be the first step towards a more loving and empowered relationship.