Connection with others is the elixir of life. The more we have, the better we feel. So you’ll probably find yourself looking for more of it and you will find more if you hold up love as your flashlight.
Connection is the reason why the holidays are so nice. You have many opportunities to interact with family members! Which can be a blessing…and a curse, too.
Why a curse? More likely than not, you don’t see eye-to-eye with every single one of your family members about world events. And then you step into one of those impossible conversations about politics, hunger, war, or the environment.
As you listen a relative sound off on their different worldview, you may find yourself disconnecting from that person. You wonder: “How exactly am I supposed to stay connected with this person who sure seems to be living in a completely different reality?”
I’m here to promise you that you if you feel like you’ve lost connection, you can find it again.
I’m going to explain how, and I hope you’ll take this new perspective with you into the New Year as you spend time with family, friends, and co-workers.
These days, it’s easy to lose that feeling of connection to your loved ones
Conversations like the one I described above can really divide homes and families and even end friendships. One of my clients told me his niece refuses to go to family functions for the next four years.
Don’t. Just don’t. Don’t be influenced by the political climate or media to divide and hate. We don’t have to be divided from family and friends because the overall media theme is one of division and difference.
Don’t refuse to spend time with family members, or unfriend our Facebook friends. Just don’t. We’re facing tough global issues in our time. We need each other through this weird and wonderful journey called life.
Sometimes it will be enough just to change the conversation to something like fashion, footwear, sports, your pets, or any of those other safe “nothing” topics. Sometimes you’ll need Love and the Self quality of Curiosity to re-find your connection.
First, use love as your flashlight to find your way back to connection
Stay connected this year and stay present by holding love as your flashlight, right out in front of you as if you were exploring a cave. Let it guide you through the darkness of difficult, unpleasant conversations.
Cultivate love in your interactions. Most likely you will not see immediate results. Do it anyway.
How we continue to stay connected with family and friends in a loving, nonjudgmental way is a living question we want to keep alive. It IS a skill you can cultivate.
We absolutely can advocate for the world we want while meeting Father-in-law Bert, Cousin Sean, and Nana Margaret as fellow human beings without abandoning our core beliefs.
Open your heart. Stand in a place of Love. And hold it high in front of you.
Next, bring forth your Self quality of Curiosity
Think of yourself as a modern-day explorer when you spend time with family who are different from you. You are in unfamiliar territory and you’ll need your love as a flashlight to keep you safe in the dark. What might you discover in your adventures?
Why does my caring, gentle Aunt Joanne want to defund Planned Parenthood? This person loves children and wants to make the world a better place. For some reason taking the above action is part of the plan of making the world a better place from her perspective.
WHAT IS SHE SEEING? Do you want to see it too? Get out your love flashlight and shine it on those intentions that are compatible with yours. And get Curious. Hold your love flashlight out in front of you.
Ask open-ended questions. Using the example of Aunt Joanne, I would ask:
- How does that help?
- What will happen if?
- What would you like to see happen?
- How do you think doing that will support that in happening?
You may have noticed these questions are circular (I call it listening horizontally). That’s intentional so you can meet your would-be opponent with Connection and Curiosity around and around.
(If you find yourself getting blended with parts who don’t agree with Aunt Joanne, take heart. Practice makes perfect. You may need to start learning how to make Calm your new normal.)
2 ground rules to making this connecting conversation work
There are 2 ground rules for you, modern-day explorer.
- Keep an open heart and mind. Don’t move to a pre-decided conclusion with your questions. Explorers had no idea where they’d end up or what they’d discover. Same is true for you. What would it look like if you just stand in awe of your discoveries? Shine your love as a flashlight onto this new discovery and behold.
- Stand together on good intentions until there’s no place left to stand. Assume the best until you can’t anymore (but see rule #1…don’t predict an outcome). Then leave with your new knowledge and your large or small connection until the next time.
Having this connecting and curious conversation does not mean you agree with Aunt Joanne. It’s not about whether the content is right or wrong.
It’s about showing up in Self qualities that promote love, positivity, and open-heartedness. Those qualities are contagious and provide natural antibodies for the hatefulness and divisiveness in the media. Showing up with an an open heart (love as your flashlight!) is what is required minimally to change the direction of hate and divisiveness.
Let your heart expand beyond its boundaries
If we just push away others for being different, our world becomes smaller and more insular. There is more division and “other” in the world
Loving Curiosity is Connection. When you’re Curious, you don’t turn away. Instead you turn toward the thing or person you want to know more about. That means more Connection elixir for both of youyou.
I’m reminded of the Grinch’s heart at the end of the movie.
Curiosity, Calm, Caring Compassion towards the person in front of you. Whether is it Uncle Bert who voted for the conservative party or Cousin Steve who lives on the streets of New York City or Aunt Dottie the fundamental Christian in your family stay connected.
It hurts the world more to build walls around your heart.