By Raymond F. Angelini, Ph.D.
Most of us long for deeper connections, but are at a loss as to how to go about developing them. In my experience, there is no greater need than for human connection. However, while technology has made it increasingly easier for us to communicate through a dazzling array of electronic media, most of us feel more disconnected from each other than ever before. It reminds me of the old saying, “Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink!”
Over the last several decades, life has gotten much busier for most of us, and despite claims from the technocrats, email and the Internet are not connecting us with each other on a deeper level. Most people I know are not longing for more emails, but instead crave greater intimacy and an opportunity to share with others more of their truer selves.
When I ask my clients what they want in their lives, they routinely respond, “more time with my loved ones.” The quality of our interpersonal relationships is the single most important factor in predicting our level of happiness and fulfillment in life. People say that right before death, our life often flashes before our eyes. What do you think is contained in each frame of this slide show? It’s not our achievements, our possessions or our jobs. Rather, it is those very special moments that we have spent with those that mean the most to us. People, and our relationships with them, are truly what make our lives most worth living.
However, the reality of our daily lives often leaves us with little energy to relate to significant others on anything more than a superficial level. We are deprived of the soulful connection we so desperately need and want. By “soulful” I mean those connections that touch us at the deepest level of our being and make us glad to be alive and grateful for that particular person in our lives. They are those uniquely human moments that bring a tear to our eyes or put a smile on our face. However, these soulful moments don’t always just happen spontaneously; we must create the time and space in our lives for them to occur.
While fulfilling our need for a deeper relationship will be challenging, it is not impossible. In her book, Take Time For Your Life, Cheryl Richardson offers several suggestions on how to connect in our interpersonal relationships. She emphasizes that, “every encounter with another human being is a spiritual encounter.” If we remain open to this truth, it can make it easier to reach out to others and open our hearts to them.
So how does one go about making more soulful connections in their life? As with any significant change, it has to begin with you.
• Practice making eye contact for longer periods of time. This communicates to others that you are very interested in what they are saying and expresses your desire to connect with them on a more profound level.
• Smile at strangers and say hello to them. This expresses warmth and a sense of approachability that can lead to a meaningful relationship.
• Be present for others and slow down to take the time to connect. Dare to ask questions of those you care about. Find out what their hopes and dreams are, and you will invariably move the conversation to a more intimate level.
• Acknowledge and appreciate others. Don’t be afraid to compliment and applaud them for their successes. This shows them that you see them at a deeper level, which leads to a more meaningful bond.
The opportunity for deeper and richer relationships exists everywhere. Practice being present and keeping your heart open and then watch what happens!
Dr. Raymond Angelini of New Horizons Coaching has been in private practice as a clinical psychologist and business & personal coach for over 15 years specializing in helping people have more fulfilling careers and relationships. For more information visit www.newhorizonscoaching.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.