Why invest your precious energy in nurturing connection?
You are stretched thin by the pandemic, trying to juggle a million balls at once. Or, you used to have a million balls to juggle and it gave you tremendous energy, but the pandemic has put a "halt" to all of that.
In the normal world, an important balancing tool for overwhelm or underwhelm was connecting with family and friends in familiar, time-tested ways; meeting for a glass of wine after work, getting together for a movie, catching up with others at religious services on the weekend, running into a colleague in the hallway, spontaneously dropping in at a neighbor's home to talk about the week.
But now? Nope. We are in unfamiliar, collective over/underwhelm and our regular ways of connecting are off the table. And many of us are suffering because of it.
As social creatures, we are made for connection. The need for connection is in our DNA, we need it for survival. And, intentionally creating it is a critical tool for preventing PTSD.
Connect, connect, connect.
True, many of our tried-and-true ways to connect are no longer safe. So it's time to get creative...
Here are three "frames" to consider as you create critical, life giving connections.
Send connection bids to others, focusing on process rather than outcome. Consider getting out pen and paper and stamps and send notes of gratitude to important people in your life. Or bake your favorite bread and drop it spontaneously on the doorstep of someone who will be delighted to be the focus of your attention. Invite a friend for distance tea in the park or Korean lunch outside on the patio before the weather changes - the invitation itself is what creates connection. The ideas are endless. Send out bids freely to others, and in the process of sending bids without expectation, critical, nurturing connections are made.
Say "yes" to receiving connection bids from others, noticing how it feels. When someone invites you, say "yes!" "Yes, I'll watch a Netflix show with you, even though you are in DC and I am in Minnesota. Let' figure it out." "Yes, I'll bring tea and meet you on the yoga studio deck." "Yes, let's set up a time to talk over Zoom." "Yes, let's take a walk and talk about the upcoming election." Yes. Yes. Yes. Freely receive the bids that are offered by others, and in the process of receiving bids without expectation, critical, nurturing connections are made.
Create space for hidden connection bids to appear. When our eyes are always on the ground, we miss what is in the trees. Create space for the unexpected, believing it is there. Create space for noticing the beautiful bird, which reminds you of the lovely friend who is birdwatching from her porch as she recovers from a serious illness, and then write or call and tell her about what you saw. The bird sighting is an unexpected link for deepening connection. Create spaciousness to notice the unexpected, and in the process, without expectation, critical, nurturing connections are made.
When I remember that connection is fundamental to being human, and an important tool for preventing PTSD, I make it a priority. A fun priority. A healthy priority. A hopeful priority.
Even in the midst of the pandemic.
Especially in the midst of the pandemic.
And I remember that I am in charge. My actions, aligned with my values, support my optimal health.