Holiday Gifts That Matter
Deep down underneath it all, everyone wants to feel seen and heard, right? Isn’t it our birthright to feel safe and able to communicate freely, and to feel that our messages are clearly received? The answers to both questions should be a resounding ‘yes.’ Unfortunately, I’m sure it is easy for each of us to recall a recent exchange where we were left feeling unseen, unheard, and like we struggled to communicate honestly. It is common for these types of experiences to leave us feeling upset and unfulfilled. Even worse, these experiences give us good reason to avoid sharing our feelings with anyone at all. Communicating with authenticity is hard, even when we are blessed to be in the presence of another who is offering wholehearted support and safety for us to say what we feel. Even in the best circumstances, it can still be challenging to speak our truth.
Most of us are too preoccupied with being polite. We conform to social norms and expectations that are often downloaded to our mental programming without notice. It would appear that doing whatever we can to steer clear of situations that might make us feel vulnerable is the best option. These tendencies become deeply ingrained patterns. Without acquiring conscious communication skills, we can easily go through the majority of our lives feeling a dreadful lack of deep connection and intimacy.
Whether we know it or not, we are wired for connection and need love. Connectivity is an innate need. In the past, it was necessary for humans to work together in order to survive. Our existence literally depended on human connection! In our world today, we suffer from the opposite condition. Our modern times are more tailored to a DIY life. On one hand, this can be empowering, however, too much independence can lead to long, lonely roads.
We all long for in-the-flesh human to human connection.
Social bonding- in the truest sense of the word (NOT social media!) is about an energetic, authentic, and compassionate exchange between beings. It's two-fold in that the exchange is equal parts offering and receiving. Unlike the short-term gains that come with material accumulation, the long-term gains and lasting benefits from authentic bonding experiences are incredibly valuable. The benefits to our health when we are authentically bonding have been studied. Authentically connecting with one another:
improves physical health and psychological well-being;
boosts the feel-good hormones (dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, estrogen, testosterone);
strengthens and regulates the immune system;
enhances our capacity to return to homeostasis (inner stability and balance);
increases one’s access to creativity;
opens greater ability for learning and comprehension;
increases empathy and compassion;
and has been shown to positively impact one’s life expectancy!
Interestingly, our desire for connection is innate, but our ability to connect well with others is at best, undertaught, or at worst, not taught to us at all. At some point, we may wake up to the realization that we have to learn and practice how to be with others wholeheartedly. One of the ways to do this is through Authentic Communication.
The truth is that communicating well is a learned skill. Ideally, a skill that would be learned early in life through observation and experiences of good, honest communication in practice. If we didn’t have good wholehearted communication models growing up, it’s likely that those models could have used better models themselves too.
I was introduced to this practice during my studies in Relational Somatic Psychotherapy with The Three Fold Way. I didn't realize how much there is to unpack when it comes to how we relate. I chose to do the work to refine my interactions with others. Through awareness and practice, Authentic Communication has enhanced my life and has enriched my relationships immensely.
Eager to learn? I am teaming up with my dear friend and colleague Lisa Mitchell to deliver a comprehensive and practical workshop for those wishing to gain the tools necessary to be in wholehearted relationships. Click here for more details.