As I have been diving into blogging, I have loved exploring the subtleties of relating authentically to myself and to the people in my world.
And yet, I woke up a few days ago and realised I had never shared some of the gems that lie at the heart of authentic relating! In other words; the basic practices that are actually really easy to apply, both in the relationship with yourself, and in your relationships with the people in your world.
So, with summer coming on – and my holidays coming up – I thought I’d share some of these, to hopefully add some spice, juice and connection to your summer engagements!
1. Drop into the moment
This skill is at the core of authentic communication and a base level skill in all the work I do. If you have a regular mindfulness or meditation practice you will have a felt sense of this. It is a sense of letting go of thoughts and allowing yourself to arrive in the present moment, in your body, in your heart.
Your experience lies in your body, and allowing yourself land there will have you feel more here, in the present moment, in connection with yourself.
When I apply this felt sense to my interactions, and bring that presence and awareness to the connection, and the person right in front of me, I instantly feel more connected. I drop into what is happening in the moment and become aware of the subtleties at work in each passing instant. I step away from thoughts and stories and feel what it is like to be in connection with the person I am with. I ask myself: “how does my heart feel? What is my body experiencing? What stands out for me in this connection?”
This skill forms the foundation for all the other skills following below. To be able to relate from you own experience, you first have to know your experience. Get intimate with it.
Dropping into the moment is the way to get there: it allows you to slow down and to be here right now, so you can start pay attention to what is going on.
2. Check in
Checking in is an excellent way to start ‘weaving connection’. I often apply it when I feel I am not engaged in what somebody is sharing, yet I would like to feel more connected.
What I often ask is: “Hey, how are you doing right now?”
It might be that the other person needs a little time to shift, from telling a story to checking in with how they are actually doing. To help them, I sometimes share something that is happening for me in that moment, such as: “I was noticing I was loosing track of your story and yet I really want to know how you are doing. What is most alive for you right now?”
Remember: keep it in the here and now. Away from story, into the present.
I have yet to encounter somebody that did not respond to a check in with a waking up, a sense of dropping in, a little ‘o’ moment where they actually allow themselves to feel what is happening for them. And from there, share beautiful things. As a result I feel more connected to them and more engaged with what is going on for them.
I love this skill. It’s easy peasy, yet super powerful. It is the power of attention.
(You can also check in with yourself! Ask yourself: “what is going on for me right now?” I do that when things seem ‘busy’ in me, or I feel restless, or oddly disconnected from life around me. I pause and check in).
3. Follow your true curiosity
I have written about this before, and yet this one belongs in this list. This skill is the most fun and cheeky one to apply. It often brings lightness and a sense of aliveness to my conversations, as I am following where my energy is taking me.
In my experience; curiosity = energy = aliveness.
In other words, when I follow my true curiosity, I tap into where my life energy is taking me and as a result I feel more alive. Practicing this skill has a exciting quality to me, like tuning into the juiciness of life or flirting with life itself. Following your true curiosity can be a powerful gateway to connection.
So how do I this?
Again. I slow down. I tune into myself. I ask myself: “what, or who, am I most curious about?” And then I find that person or I ask that question. And I see what emerges. This skill always has me in touch with a sense that we are connected on so many levels, many of them non-verbal. What I feel curious about often tends to be something that is current for the person in front of me. Or something that leads in a interesting direction, an exploration of some sort. Either way, when we start following that track, it can lead to beautiful places, often ones never visited before, or from that specific angle. And because I have been following where my energy, my curiosity is taking me, a sense of aliveness opens up and I again feel more connected. I feel engaged with the person I am connecting with. And they respond to that genuine curiosity by opening up, and sharing something about their world – which always feels like a gift.
Applying this skill can be a little scary too. It is a bit like those explorers of the olden days, venturing out from familiar coasts into uncharted territory. But I promise you, it is very rewarding.
This skill also works really well in relationship to myself. Following my true curiosity in exploring my inner world allows me to explore with a sense of openness and wonder. A sense of spacious around ‘what I might find’. I find it a very gentle way of self-inquiry.
4. Share impact
Sharing impact is a skill that is often skipped over. We tend to forget that other people cannot read our minds, or hearts 😉 And yet sharing impact can be a beautiful gift, allowing another person to actually hear how they are impacting you. We do not often share this information, and it yet it can be such a powerful way to learn more about yourself – and it can also be really surprising!
This is how it works: when somebody shares something, or shows himself in a certain way, I share how I feel impacted. It is a simple as that. For instance I say: “when you shared about feeling lonely, I felt a tension in my chest and sadness coming up”.
This skill is one way to start ‘weaving connection’ between myself and another person. By sharing impact I am not just walking a one-way street, with one person sharing information and me listening, or the other way around. I am actually showing up too, bringing myself to the conversation, weaving my own experience into the mix and by that act allowing for the possibility of deeper connection.
Appreciation! This is one of my favourite skills. And one that has transformed my life and connections in a beautiful way.
Sharing appreciation is truly an act of generosity. I know that in my own life for a long time I did not share any appreciation. Out of spite? Fear of losing myself? Scarcity? Out of a sense that if one person had something and I acknowledged that, there would not be enough for me? Scratch that. There is more than enough for everybody. And the more I give, the more I receive.
When I started appreciating the people around me, things really started to shift, creating a lot more connection and open-heartedness in my daily interactions. It is like the honey in my tea, or the yumminess in my day-to-day life.
Appreciation is like WD40 for my relationships.
So how do I it? It is, again, simple: when I appreciate something about somebody, I share it.
And a little pro-tip: the more specific you get, the better it works. And when you can also add how this is impacting you, even better.
So instead of saying “that is a beautiful dress”, I refine what exactly I am appreciating and go for: “that dress looks beautiful on you. It really brings out your skin tone and the shape of your body. I feel more radiant walking next to you!” Or: “thank you for taking the trash out today and carrying the bags. I feel really supported by you and it allows me to relax more info my feminine.”
And, for added spice; when I see the ‘receiver’ not really receiving my appreciation and brushing it off, I sometimes tease them by pointing that out; “hey, it seems like you did not really receive that, could you allow yourself to let that in?” And then watch what happens.
So there you go: 5 ways to create connection this summer! (and always really).
My gift to you. Let me know how it goes!
And as a little reminder: all these skills are simple. And, they may be not always easy to apply. It does take courage, and a willingness to be vulnerable to stand up for more connection in your life. Yet, trust me, you will see: the more you do it, the easier it gets.
So if you are ready to take a little plunge this summer, these are some ways to dive right in. I hope they create some magic in your life.
Because really, what have you got to lose? Boring conversations?