After yet another delicious dinner, prepared and enjoyed by us all, we settled down to explore the power of Human Connections, and to better understand just how important connections are for we humans.
As Tisiola reminded us, the subjects chosen for this year’s format are the result of our combined requests at the end of last year’s Focus Groups.
She also re- affirmed, that her goal is for all of these learnings, to be transformative. That we take the parts relevant to us home, and use them to improve our lives. And to do this, we need two things; Intention, and Permission. What do we want to learn from the discussions and Permission, to be real and present to ourselves and others.
An overview of how we were going to approach the evening’s subject looked like this:
· What is Human Connection?
· What are the Benefits of Connection?
· What are the Barriers?
· How do we Connect?
· How to Transform these Barriers.
All of us understood very well what human connection was, because we had experienced it from the day of our birth. Mother, Father, siblings; family. Later on, friends, work mates etc.
We also understood some of the benefits of connection, because we knew how good we felt when others appreciated us. How being in contact with others often brought us much closer to them and things like that. It lifts our spirits, and makes us feel good about ourselves, and encourages our growth. Something we hadn’t really made the connection with was how beneficial it is for the growth of our Collective Consciousness.
And on the flip side, few of us understood fully, just how detrimental to our health and well-being, social isolation and exclusion is!
This was explained very clearly in a video by a Neuroscientist of 15 years, Dr Matthew Lieberman, who had seen how much smarter, happier, and more productive humans are when they are connected to others. Contrary to that he had seen first- hand, the very real pain, suffered by those experiencing loss or rejection.
In fact, MRI studies very clearly show that the same brain region where the distress of physical pain is registered, also shows far greater activity when people are suffering from rejection or loss. Interesting too, the more someone talks about how bad they are feeling about that, the stronger the response shows in those regions of the brain.
So, is this some sort of human design fault? After all, how on earth can this be beneficial for us?
Well, believe it or not, this capacity for social pain, is in fact one of our greatest Super Powers! How? Because as mammals, who are born immature, what we need to survive, more than anything else in those early stages of growth, is social connection. And as social pain, causes pain in infants, neither Mum nor Dad, are going to let this noisy, howling little bundle of joy out of their sight. Or ear range either. So this very real survival mechanism motivates us to live, play and work together in a most unassuming and unusual way.
Of course, having survived, and grown into an individual identity, we then have choices about how and who we want to connect with. And this is often when we begin to see barriers being built to thwart the development of those connections.
One of these barriers is Fear. Fear of being judged or hurt or trusting people. Another is, Limited Consciousness. Some people have a very limited world view. They can only see themselves in it. Whoppeee. No over-population there! However, unfortunately, genuine connection needs a minimum of two participating people, so the reality is, the one-sided conversation with someone who has limited consciousness, will only go around in a loop, it will never actually lead anywhere meaningful.
And then there are those awful times when you’re not connecting, you’re actually only ‘trying to fit in’. Oh, we’ve all done it, and it feels dreadful! You can feel it, adding years to your age, and taking years off your life. Seeking to be liked, not seeking to connect. Which means we need to be aware of our environment and to set healthy boundaries. To know that we don’t have to connect with everyone, but we do need to be very mindful about who we choose to give our power to. Be very discerning. Become aware of why you are making the choices you are making, and choose to spend your time with people who make you feel good. As Oprah Winfrey quoted: “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”
Misconception is also a barrier to making meaningful connections. Listen. Find out what people are really like, really saying, before you take flight. And in fact, a lot of misconceptions are born from our fear, limited consciousness, and also because we all too often work from the land of - Habit.
All too often we use small talk, reactive responses, and habitual language, because it’s easier and more expedient to do so. No thought required, and very little awareness of what the other person truly needs. If you really listen, however, you will probably have the right question to ask, which may very well help the person, and at the same time build a genuine connection between you both.
We also watched a very interesting video by an Ophthalmologist, Dr Starla Fitch, “Connect or Die: The Surprising Power of Human Relationships” who described the limiting way we view people, and how much better we would be able to connect with one another, if we took the time to really look at our fellow beings. Properly. As she said, ‘The real gift of sight, is that it allows us to really see each other and connect’. And social connection has been proven to greatly enhance the immune system, reduce depression, and therefore not only improve the quality of a person’s life, but also to lengthen it.
I thought this greeting, belonging to tribes native to South Africa, described her message beautifully; Sawubona, meaning “I See You”, and the response is, Ngikhona, “I Am Here”.
And with that in mind, we all agreed, that the medication we all needed to imbibe on a daily basis, in order for our human connections, with those we choose to connect with, to thrive, not merely survive, to transform barriers and connect, was to Talk and Judge less; Deeply See one another and Deeply Listen to one another.
And with that in mind, I’ll say no more,