Or do we? Okay, I am about to get real with you all. WARNING, this might get pretty deep and vulnerable. The truth is, I desperately want connection. Correction, I desperately NEED connection. I mean, I know we all want and need it on some level, but I really really need and want it. Because of this, I have always fancied myself an open book, ready and willing to connect with anyone. But lately I have been doing some self inventory, and if I take a step back and look a little more closely, I see that isn’t exactly true.
When I step back and look at myself, I see a woman who deeply wants to connect but is deathly afraid to do so. She lets people get close, but only to a certain point and then shuts down. She is at times extremely insecure and afraid she will say or do the wrong thing and end up hurt. Her fears keep her from connecting beyond a certain point and then she wonders why she can’t develop close relationships. Am I preaching to anyone today??
When I look around, I see a people desperately lonely and isolated. We are reaching for anything to help us feel more connected, but all we can find these days are our phones. We hide our fears behind screens with text messages and social media “likes” and comments, and they masquerade as connection. We hope that the screens on our phones will shield us from the risks of real connection when actually they are KEEPING us from real connection. Our phones allow us to “connect”, but not put ourselves out there too much. A little “like” or “love” on Facebook, a post on Instagram, a text message here and there. The point is, I think we want people to see us and know we are out there, but not get close enough to hurt us.
But people, lets face it (no pun intended), this behind the screen connection is not giving us what we truly long for! This is a big lie we’ve bought into. That we are more connected than ever when actually we are lonelier than ever. And why? Why do so many of us want to connect, yet we don’t? We were absolutely wired for connection! Babies are born looking for a bond and literally die without one. Unfortunately, we have all been hurt, have insecurities, or have anxieties that keep us from connecting. Or maybe we don’t have any of those things and have just been a victim of the cultural shifts of our modern society that have created this isolation (that is a whole other post though and I have a whole bunch of things I could say here about how BADLY we need our front porches and our telephones that connect to the wall, but I will spare you my rant for now!) Instead, I’ve thought of a few roadblocks to connection and some ways that we can overcome.
There are a million reasons we have trouble connecting with others, from past hurts and traumas, insecurity, social anxiety, past loss, commitment phobia, the list goes on. I believe though that they all boil down to fear:
Fear of rejection - Duh, easy! We are afraid of being denied. Afraid of being seen for who we truly are and then flat out rejected. We are scared down to our bones that we won’t measure up and the very essence of who we are just isn’t enough. That someone, somewhere, will really see us, and then turn and run the other way.
Fear of loss - Maybe you have experienced loss in your past. Maybe it was due to a death, moving to a different town or city, breaking up with a spouse or partner, or you name it. This loss was probably traumatizing and nothing in you wants to experience that again. I feel you!
Fear of man - We are afraid of being judged! What will they think of me if I really let them in? What will they say about me? What if I say or do the wrong thing? This is a very real and strong fear and is closely connected to fear of rejection.
The first thing I want to say is, these are all VALID! I get you and I see you. We all have our unique trauma that we need healing from and it doesn’t happen overnight. But I want to challenge you now to really do the work. You will thank yourself in the future! The first thing you can do is take notice when these fears pop up. What are they telling you? What past hurt is presenting itself now? Then, unpack it! Maybe that means seeing a therapist or talking to a close friend or family member about what your experiencing. When we bring things into the light and out of the dark by talking about them, they lose their power over us! This step will bring healing to so many places in your life.
Lastly, face it! Face your fear. Step out and take the risk. Set some healthy boundaries, and then make a coffee date or just pick up the phone and call someone. Prepare yourself that people might not respond the way you want, but this probably has more to do with them and their fears than it has to do with you.
Ladies (and men), I am not minimizing anyone’s pain. There are some of you out there with serious wounds. It begins with baby steps, and I think that this blog series and the Palm Beach Women’s Network event on February 27th is truly the beginning of something big. I would love nothing more than to see PBWN plant seeds that become a connection revolution, where we can all bravely stand up and put ourselves out there. A world where we are not afraid to be kind, to make a coffee date, to let others into our homes and lives, and to finally start making the true connections that we were CREATED FOR!