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How to Avoid the Disconnection Epidemic

How to Avoid the Disconnection Epidemic

reflection

    Reflection on disconnection

    In 2009 we are indeed a global community infected by disconnection. On many levels and in many ways. And as a planet and as a tribe living on that planet, it’s safe to say that the Disconnection Epidemic is killing us. Or perhaps should I say, we’re killing us. Metaphorically and literally. Just take a look around at the consequences of our global disconnected-ness. You and I live in a time when mankind is hemorrhaging on many levels; physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually and environmentally, and yet despite our condition, we seem to be resistant to learning. We have managed to both progress and regress at the same time. Quite the achievement. It seems that the more educated, informed and  equipped we become (as a population), the more selfish, short-sighted, illogical and destructive we become also. For a species which regards itself as the intellectual superior to all others, we have an amazing knack for stupidity and irrational behaviour. I don’t know of any other species that has the ability to wreak havoc on it’s own kind like we Homo Sapiens do. Modern Man; what an ironic term. If only the dolphins were running the show. Not only are we seeing disconnection between individuals in homes, schools and workplaces but also on a much larger scale, between cultures, countries, religions, generations, governments, political groups and so on. And no, I’m not talking about normal healthy ideological, philosophical, theological and political differences here, I’m talking about large-scale attitudes, choices and behaviours that continue to create division, devastation, destruction and mass disconnection.

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    When I’m the boss of the world, I’ll address it.

    Until then…

    That may take a while, so in the mean time… what can you and I do to create a greater level of connection with the inhabitants of our own little cosmos? Of course we probably won’t create a global shift or be the genesis for some kind of cosmic awakening in the next week or two (although… ), but in the interim there’s a bunch of stuff you and I can do to create a much greater level of connection, understanding and harmony with those lucky enough to be in our own personal orbit.

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    Talking with, not at

    While there are many variables that will impact on and affect the kind of connection we do or don’t create with the people in our own atmosphere, there is no more important “connection tool” than that of effective communication. And as obvious and fundamental as this sounds, it is often our inability to communicate effectively with those in our world (family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances and even strangers) which lies at the core of the disconnected reality that so many of us inhabit. Effective communication happens when we have a genuine desire to connect with people in a meaningful and productive manner. For too many of us, talking regularly equates to neither communication nor connection. Some people want to create a deeper level of communication, understanding and connection, while others simply want to talk at people and massage their ego. Ever seen what happens in parliament? Gold. Talking at people will create disconnection while talking with people will create connection – or at the very least, open the door on a healthier and more productive relationship. One is all about being heard and imposing one’s thoughts, ideas, beliefs and will, while the other is all about listening, understanding, empathising and of course, creating connection.

    Here are some no-brainer “connectors”…

    1. Work to build trust and respect. If there’s no trust or respect there can be no real connection. What often appears to be connection is in fact acting and/or manipulation on one person’s part. Simulated rapport I call it. We learn this kind of stuff in basic retail sales training. It’s not connection; it’s role-playing.
    2. Ask the right kind of questions. Ask questions that will generate meaningful dialogue; open-ended questions, not yes-no questions. Ask questions which demonstrate that you’re interested in what the other person has to say.
    3. Work to increase your awareness and to become an active listener. If you are serious about creating connection with someone then give them one hundred percent of your attention in that moment. Yep; all of it. Don’t be anywhere else (mentally). This is not always easy for us as our cerebral landscape tends be a very busy “place”. However, it is a very valuable skill to develop. Do your best to understand the other person’s perspective and thoughtfully consider the intended meaning of their words. Don’t be like many who simply wait for a gap in proceedings to launch their own self-indulgent monologue. As a general rule, listen more than you speak.
    4. Read the non-verbal communication. In any conversation, the words are only part of the message and sometimes, a small part. What people don’t say will often tell you more than what they do. Listen with your eyes as well as your ears.
    5. Speak their language. All the talking in the world will result in zero connection if you’re both speaking different languages. And we see this all the time; the boss and the employee, the mother and daughter, the teacher and the student, the tech-dude (Johnny) and the non-tech-dude (me). Lots of words but no understanding, no connection and no positive outcome. While most of us understand English, we all speak our own “language”. What will motivate one person will intimidate another. What will make me laugh will offend my neighbour. What will make complete sense to you could be totally confusing to your parents (think computer). Know who you’re talking with and learn their language if it’s connection you’re after.

    Acknowledge their feelings. You don’t need to agree with people to understand them, to respect their point of view or to create genuine connection. Having the same philosophy on everything is not a pre-requisite for connection; if it was, we’d all be in a bunch of trouble.

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    The Last Bit

    The disconnection chat, is indeed a much bigger one than the mere morsel I’ve given you to chew on today. It is something that impacts on virtually every area of the human experience (great and small), and something that I believe needs to be addressed in a practical, humble and honest fashion if we are serious about undoing some of the damage we’re living in today. One individual can’t save six billion, neither can she change the mind of the global power brokers or single handedly steer the S.S.Humanity. However, when enough individuals get together, the few become many and we begin to see a shift in power and a practical, positive consequence in our physical world. That is, real change. So if you’ve been impacted by disconnection on any level (and welcome to the club), my suggestion for you is, rather than allowing yourself to be a victim of disconnection (yep, it’s a choice), work to become a connector. Genuine transformation and connection works from the inside-out and today (like every day) is an opportunity for you to become part of the solution, rather than a perpetuator of the problem.

    Every day I choose to create connection and to be part of the solution because I have that choice and that power. I encourage you to join me.

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    As always, love your thoughts.

    More by this author

    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on August 19, 2019

    How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

    How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

    We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.

    When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.

    In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.

    Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.

    If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.

    According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.”[1] Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.

    No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.

    When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.

    Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.

    1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

    When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.

    Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.

    When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.

    Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.

    In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.

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    It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.

    You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.

    Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.

    What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?

    You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.

    That’s where we all should be.

    So, answer me this:

    How are you, really?

    And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.

    Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.

    Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.

    Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)

    Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

    It’s taking control.

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    2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity

    You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.

    You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.

    In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.

    Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.

    You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…

    Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’[2] When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.

    But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?

    It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.

    In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You

    It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.

    Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:

    Change will happen.

    Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.

    You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.

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    And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.

    You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?

    That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.

    You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.

    When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.

    There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.

    3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking

    Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.

    In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.

    If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.

    Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.

    Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable.  It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved.  It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.

    How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?

    Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.

    “Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.

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    Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.

    Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.

    It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.

    Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,[3]

    “If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”

    What would you do if you felt you were enough?

    By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.

    So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.

    Final Thoughts

    By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.

    Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.

    When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.

    You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!

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    Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com

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