How To Build Meaningful Connections with Others
In today's world, where technology and social media dominate our interactions, it is easy to feel disconnected from those around us. However, research shows that building and maintaining strong connections with others is essential for our well-being and happiness. In this article, we will explore the many benefits of connection and how we can foster meaningful relationships in our lives.
What is Human Connection (& What is it Not)?
When it comes to connecting with others, it is important to first understand what connection is not. First of all, connection is not built through purely intellectual debates or conversations. For example, debating with someone about politics, discussing about sustainability, or about the beauty of nature does not necessarily mean you are connecting with the other. While these interactions may seem intense and interesting in the moment, they often lack the emotional element that brings people together. After such conversations, it is common to find that you do not even remember the person or may even be upset with them. Intellectual debates or conversations simply do not guarantee meaningful and deep connection.
Similarly, forming relationships through social media does not guarantee connection. You might see what they are doing, who they are, and what they like, but the relationship will likely lack the depth and breadth of a true connection. Likewise, mentorship relationships also fall short at creating authentic connections. Think about the relationship you might have with your teacher, coach, or therapist; while these relationships may be helpful and aid in personal growth, they lack the balance of a two-way relationship. In mentorship relationships, for example, one person is helping another but is not receiving any help back from the other person. For a relationship to be considered true connection, it must be two-way, equal, and balanced. Simply put, if a relationship is one way, it is not a meaningful connection.
What is Authentic Connection?
So, what exactly is connection? Well, it is more than just a simple interaction between two people. True connection is a relationship where both individuals share a mutual respect and trust for one another. They feel comfortable and safe in each other's presence, and they are willing to turn to each other for advice, support, and guidance during tough times. In these types of relationships, both parties have a deep understanding and knowledge of each other's personal lives, struggles, and challenges. It is a two-way street where both people share and contribute equally, resulting in a balanced and authentic connection.
To define connection, we can turn to the words of Brené Brown, who has extensively studied meaningful connections. According to her, "Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued. When two people can give and take without judgment and when they derive sustenance and strength from this relationship." In simpler terms, connection is not just about specific actions or behaviors; it is about the energy that arises between two individuals when they are fully present with each other and share a sense of mutual respect, trust, and support. This kind of connection can be a source of nourishment and empowerment for both parties involved.
2 Benefits of Connecting with Others
Now that we have a better understanding of what connection entails, you may be wondering why it is important to cultivate authentic connections with others. The truth is, there are many benefits to making connections, both for your physical and mental health. Some of the benefits include:
1. It makes you happier
Building authentic connections can have a significant impact on our overall well-being, including our mental health. Research has shown that even individuals struggling with mental health issues can experience improved mood and happiness when they establish meaningful connections with others. Connection can make life more enjoyable and fulfilling, and it is not just limited to personal relationships. Even in professional settings, creating a connection with your audience can be a powerful tool in building successful relationships. By valuing and understanding your audience, you can establish a deeper connection that benefits both parties.
2. It makes you healthier
Building meaningful connections with others not only positively impacts our mental health but also our physical health. When we have a strong social support system, we feel stronger and more resilient, allowing us to better cope with physical challenges and illnesses. Additionally, having a sense of purpose and belonging through our connections can lead to improved overall well-being, including increased energy levels, productivity, and a greater enjoyment of life. It is no surprise that studies have shown a link between social support and a longer lifespan, indicating just how essential meaningful connections are for our health and longevity.
How To Build Meaningful Connection with Others
You may be curious about how to cultivate deeper and more meaningful connections with others. Based on my clinical experience, I have observed certain key ingredients that can help improve the quality of our connections. Let's delve into them.
1. Be yourself
It may sound like a cliché, but the first step to building meaningful connections with others is to be authentic and true to yourself. When we put on a mask or pretend to be someone else, we hinder our ability to connect on a deeper level. When we pretend to be someone we are not or strive to be perfect, it becomes difficult to form a genuine connection. In order to establish an authentic connection, we need to reveal our true selves and not hide behind a façade. It is important to be honest about who we are and what we stand for, as this allows others to see us for who we truly are. By being our genuine selves, we open the door for genuine connections with others.
2. Be genuinely interested in others
To truly connect with someone, we need to be genuinely interested in them. This means putting aside our own desires to impress or show off, and actively listening to what the other person has to say. Quality over quantity is also important in building meaningful connections. It is not about how many people we talk to or how many friends we make, but rather the depth of the connections we build. We should strive to add quality to our conversations by being genuinely interested in the other person and seeing them for who they are, rather than just trying to make it through a list of people at a party.
3. Practice empathy
Another important element of building connections is leaving judgment behind and practicing empathy. This involves putting yourself in someone else's shoes and trying to see the world through their eyes. By understanding their perspective and emotions, you can establish a real and meaningful connection. Emotions play a crucial role in communication and building connections. When we approach others with warmth and an open heart, we can convey our messages and understand theirs. It is important not to underestimate the power of emotions and feelings in connecting with others.
To sum up, connection is a vital energy that exists between two people when they feel seen, heard, and valued. It is important to reflect on your relationships and see if they tick these boxes. If not, think about what you can do to add empathy, quality, and genuine interest in these relationships. And, if you ever need someone to talk to or guidance on how to build meaningful connections with others, we are here for you. Our doors are always open, and we will listen to you with an open heart and provide support in any way we can. Remember, you are not alone. Take care.
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