A Coaching Power Tool By Crystal Thompson, Transition Coach, UNITED STATES
Balancing Connection vs. Separation
The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers, and cities; but to know someone who thinks and feels with us, and who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden. Goethe
We live in a world where the pace has quickened, but the need for direct connection from others seems to have waned as technology offers new tools to encourage unassisted support. This new generation of people attached to cell phones and other smart devices often focuses on the next ping, liking their latest social media post. I work closely with young adults navigating through their first job and often come to me with little or no direct experience within the senior living industry. My primary focus is to teach these young adults how to connect with our guests (residents in our senior community) and offer world-class hospitality through our dining program. It has provided an exciting perspective to watch this dynamic unfold between the Generation Z associates and our Post-War Generation customers. I watch as two very different worlds collide.
The one consistent theme that continually arises is the ability to connect, stay present and offer openness for the exchange. When I explore more profoundly, I discover two primary forces exist, enabling a disconnect between people and within an individual. I want to offer a power tool, as a strategy to encourage people on both sides of a generational gap to find cohesion within these compelling times that we are presented with.
I have chosen to focus on the power tool Connection vs. Separation. This power tool is based on identifying and living a sense of connection to oneself and the world. If this sense of connection is lacking, we can fall into a life of solitary existence. There are two different platforms that I see this power tool applying to; the personal relationship that we cultivate within ourselves and how we view ourselves fitting into the world around us and the deeper, spiritual relationship that we may or may not have with a higher power.
The more isolated and disconnected we are, the more shattered and distorted our self-identity. We are not healthy when we are alone. We find ourselves when we connect to others. Without community, we don’t know who we are. When we live outside of a healthy community, we can lose others and lose ourselves. Who we understand ourselves to be is dramatically affected for better or worse by those we hold closest to us. Erwin McManus
Separation Is Isolating and Limiting.
Born of a sense that one is alone and lacks the support to participate in life engaging with others actively. Separation can lead to detachment from the world at large that can leave one feeling untethered. Within this space, the ability to truly thrive is restricted. The mindset of being separated from the rest allows only a finite opportunity to come together with other humans to create, explore, empathize and collaborate in life’s journey.
Connection Is a State of Being Part of Something Bigger Than Ourselves.
When allowing ourselves to be connected, we gain a sense of interrelatedness that builds confidence, instills trust, and strengthens relationships. Family life becomes more in sync, the workplace is more harmonious and productive, and our sense of spiritual belonging increases. The key to being connected is having a sense of belonging to something beyond ourselves. We need to feel comfortable and safe within the social groups (family, work, interpersonal relationships) we are affiliated with, trusting that our contribution is equally significant, respected, and appreciated. When we enter a state of fully feeling connected, we suddenly are allowed to emerge in new and unbinding ways by offering a structure around us similar to a safety net. This emboldens us to live fuller and more fortifying lives.
Power Tool: Connection vs. Separation
Individuals who live in a place of connection generally move through life with confidence and trust that they deserve their place in the world. When people feel connected socially, they can experience increased self-worth, faith, and belonging. The feeling of separation has an opposite effect: people lack a sense of self-value within one’s social structure and can find themselves isolated in several environments. This can potentially have a profound negative impact on one’s mind and body.
Connectedness creates a more positive outlook for the person, both physical, mental, and spiritual. The rope tethers us to the world beyond our thoughts and beliefs.
Although it may seem innate for humans to strive to develop and maintain, a connection is not always the natural way. The individual’s family structure and how the nature vs. nurture dynamic showed up in early childhood has a lot to do with a person’s need and ability to connect deeply. We also see how technology has changed the organic way people connect daily. As stated by Marina Rose, “Throughout history, human beings have inherently been social creatures. For millions of years, we’ve genetically evolved to survive and thrive through the ‘togetherness’ of social groups and gatherings. Today, modern communication and technology have forever changed the landscape of our human interaction, and as such, we often decline without this type of meaningful personal contact. Today’s highly individualistic, digitally remote, and material-driven culture is now challenging all of this as we turn to science to unlock the mysteries of human connection and wellness in a digitally connected world.”
Our way of viewing our contribution to our social environment influences our ability to set roots and begin to grow a connection with others. Connecting meaningfully with others requires us to be ourselves openly and genuinely. This starts with a feeling of trust and belonging.
Separation arises in life when we lack confidence around the worthiness of being connected to even one other individual. This leads to a sense of isolation, even when amongst people. “What’s missing for lonely people, after all, is not just social contact but meaningful contact-the bonds that come from being your authentic self with another person.” Says health researcher Jeremy Noel.
Connection vs. Separation Explanation
If you lack a feeling of connection, then you can be experiencing a feeling of separation. Can you recall when it seemed like everyone else was part of something and you were left out? Perhaps a group of friends made plans, or a work event happened, and you got a sense that you were not the first one on the list? Or even that feeling of not being tuned into yourself completely, out of touch. Do you remember the self-deprecating feelings and beliefs of your unworthiness that you attached to this? This is separation. If we don’t explore why we allow separation and move into connection, we choose to stay emotionally isolated. Can you recollect when you intentionally disconnected yourself from a group activity, assuming they did not want you, and it turned out that the social group didn’t even come forward to coerce you to join and soothe your sense of belonging?
I believe we can move from the separation space by considering the deeper elements of the “why” behind connection and what it requires.
Connection and Vulnerability
Consider this: Who do we become when we feel fantastic about ourselves and experience a sense of “being on top of the world”? Why does it seem that when we live our best lives, we are attracting more of what we desire as if there is a magnetic pull towards us?
Genuinely connecting with ourselves and others requires allowing oneself to become vulnerable. To sit in our truth and look at who we are and how we feel within our lives? To examine what we may have to offer others or ourselves. When we lean into this level of vulnerability, we open ourselves up to the possibility of receiving more; from the world around us. We charm the Universe into offering more of what we desire because we become a vessel for what feels good.
It begins with offering ourselves the space to be authentic and delve into what drives us. If we can operate from this genuine platform, we may discover that we have the right to be ourselves and show up in the world in a true capacity. We can come to trust ourselves. In this trust, we find confidence, and through confidence comes our natural right to belong.
Within the state of trusting ourselves, we focus less on the opinions of others and more on what we know to be our truth. We can decipher the distinction between our thoughts about circumstances and what may be the circumstance. There is a strong relationship between knowing the difference between the two. From this place, we can review the thoughts and feelings we created around the earlier social scenario around not being at the forefront of the invitation/gathering and see it from a different perspective. Suddenly we can shift from feeling isolated to maintaining connection because we have not placed untrue beliefs on the situation.
Why is it more empowering to allow ourselves to lean into our vulnerability? Because it offers us the opportunity to see a situation/belief from an unbiased place. It gives us the ability to explore facts versus make-believe, and it awards us freedom from unnecessary thoughts that may not serve us.
I define connection as the energy between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship. Dr. Brene Brown
Establishing a Connection
I believe that to connect with another, some level of connection to the world beyond ourselves as an individual needs to exist. Amit Ray says it very eloquently to me, “Remember your connection with the cosmos. Remember your connection with infinity and that remembrance will give you freedom.” Once we can embrace that we are not alone yet woven in as millions of threads into a garment of destiny, we are given the gift of being connected to everything. So many schools of thought on this concept; however, they all seem to lead us to the same truth. We are all connected by something beyond our capacity to understand.
The next factor is establishing a connection to our truth, for, without this, we are not capable of stepping forward with our feelings, thoughts, and needs. If we stand on solid footing, connected to our values and beliefs, we have the freedom to be ourselves comfortably, freedom from fear of judgment. This perspective contributes to heightened self-awareness in conjunction with increased self-esteem. An individual who owns their truth tends to exude trust and confidence.
When we say we will stay connected with someone and fail to make the appropriate effort to do so, we lose faith in those we are committing to be connected to, when we lack a sense of personal connection to the world beyond ourselves, our perspective shifts from possibility to a limiting arena that lacks abundance.
With integrity as a guide, maintaining the connection to self will encourage the actions necessary to maintain a solid relationship with others.
Create a Perspective of Connection vs. Separation
The first meaning of connection, according to Webster’s Dictionary 1828, is“The act of joining or state of being joined; a state of being knit or fastened together; union by the junction, by an intervening substance or medium, by dependence or relation”This is the same platform on which coaching sits upon. The coach and client join together to support the client as they navigate through bringing about change in the client’s life. Along with establishing trust, much of a coaching/client relationship hinges on the initial connection between both parties. The connection between the client’s needs and the coach’s niche, communication styles, cultural similarities, etc., all play a role in establishing this connection.
When we discover that our client sits in a state of separation, it’s helpful to find ways to shift their perspective into one of connection. One approach may be to explore areas where they have found success in connection. Another is to look at the core beliefs around why the separation exists. Within this space, we can allocate other techniques to approaching the situation from a place of connection. This will invite our clients to imagine the possibilities with support versus taking on change alone.
Explore with your client’s ways in which they can create a perspective of connection.
Some questions to help our client shift from separation into connection might be:
- “What does connection mean to you?”
- “What does separation mean to you?”
- “What has supported you in the past?”
- “What changes when you look at allowing support from others?”
- “What would it feel like to trust your team/partner, etc.?”
- “In what ways will support impact you?”
- “What needs to shift to approach it differently?”
- “What is your connection to the spiritual world?”
- “What do you feel connected to?”
- “What are the benefits for you to be connected?”
- “What opens up for you when you allow connections to others?”
- “How do you feel when you are deeply connected to something?”
- “How do you nurture your connections?”
Amit Ray, Enlightenment Step by Step