What Interferes With Developing And Sustaining Meaningful Relationships In Our Lives?
While it is easy to point to COVID as the primary culprit for the crisis I describe in an email, the diminishment of meaningful connection began long before COVID. The COVID pandemic incurred social distancing and isolation in our communities, which made the loss of social connection acutely visible. Prior to COVID, there are key aspects of modern living that contributed to the problem.
4 key contributors to losing a meaningful connection
- Shift away from small community living. We used to live in villages and small communities where people lived and worked side by side. Life was at a slower pace, and living was much less rushed. As we started to move farther away from multigenerational homes and into cities and added more complexity to our lives, we need to be more intentional to maintain connections with others outside of our homes.
- Our ‘busy life’ culture. Do you know anyone who seems to wear their busyness as a badge of honor? Could this person even be you? I know for sure it has been me in the past. What often gets squeezed out in the time crunch? Meaningful connection requires spaciousness, presence, and time. As we feel like we have less and less time, we become ‘doer’ bees, leaving little time for deeply connecting in the ways described above.
- Lack of modeling. Many of us may not have been raised in families where people took the time to connect deeply. Did people really ask about us? Take time to listen and hear what was in our hearts? The truth is that it is pretty rare. As a coach, I often hear clients talk about 1 – 2 people in their lives who were the most important to them. When I ask what was so special about these people, it is ALWAYS because this person had time for them, expressed care about them, and seemed to know them better than anyone else. They had a meaningful connection with this person. But many of us didn’t learn that through modeling. It doesn’t come naturally.
- Connection imposters. Social media in itself is neither good nor bad in terms of meaningful connection. It depends upon how we engage with it. For example, those battling illness who find each other on social media can have really meaningful connections. People who share common life experiences or circumstances of all kinds can meet and connect in ways that enhance their lives. This can be good.
But connections on social media can also serve as imposters. If someone ‘likes’ our feed, does that mean they really care about us? Just because we can’t stop watching someone else’s feed, does this mean we have a meaningful connection with them? Absolutely not. Meaningful connection is often not present in social media, as it is often not present in other areas of our lives.
Taking time to connect with others was more naturally a part of life before we became so busy, spread out, and distracted. With many factors threatening to reduce the overall quality of our most precious relationships, we need to become more vigilant about investing the time and energy to ensure our lives remain rich with meaningful connections. Next week, in Part 3 of this blog series I will share ideas about how to do this.
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