Making friends in adulthood and other relationships horrors
So, lovely as it is that everyone bangs on about how connection is vital to human happiness and fulfilment, it's not always that easy to connect with others, especially as adults, and, well, especially when we feel disconnected from ourselves.
Weird as it may sound, all connection comes from the way you think about another person. If you are thinking about how dreadful someone is, chances are you are not going to feel too warmly about them. On the other hand, if you are thinking about how brilliant someone is, you are more likely to feel more connected to them. Even if you don’t know them very well. Think of a musician you love and have never met; you probably feel connected to them on a soul level in some way. Yet how can this be if connection is all about genetics and meeting and sparky electricity we cannot see?
The reason is because that is not what creates connection at all; our thoughts do. And you get to decide upon your own thoughts, and that's where the power lies.
Which may sound like a strong statement – that we can control our thoughts. But the patterns we think about absolutely everything are things we have been taught or picked up from the world we live in, the experiences we have had, our family, our history… with all of these lessons being programmed into our little skull sponges, it is definitely possible to programme in some new thoughts which are more aligned with who you want to be and the lie=fe you want to live.
So how can we manage our thinking to become more connected with others? The first step is to become aware of our thoughts. Pay attention to the thoughts you have about others. Are they based on assumptions or facts? Once you are aware of your thoughts, you can start to challenge them. And most importantly, do you like the way they make you feel and the way they make you behave?
Just noticing whether you like the results is sometimes enough of a pause to allow ourselves to step back from believing that our observations are the out-and-out truth. And when you are able to take a step back from thinking the other person is chewing that loudly to irritate us personally, we have more chance of finding things like empathy. And when you practice empathy, you are more likely to feel a stronger connection to others.
It's important to remember that all this stuff takes time and effort. And often, that can be a reason we choose not to do it. But it is worth recognising that getting all stressed up and having nowhere to go about someone also takes time and effort. And that is dead energy.
Creating connection is not something that happens overnight. But, by beginning to manage your thinking, you create more opportunities for connection in your life. And if that is what you are seeking, it is worth investing the time into.
If you'd like to learn how to improve how you feel about the people in your life, join up for the Stress-Free Relationships course this July