We are all designed for connection. Period. We need each other. When we are born, it’s the love and connection to our mother and the rest of our family that provides the assurance and safety that we need in order to grow well and develop a healthy sense of self. Babies who don’t receive this loving connection don’t do well. And they often die because of it.
Our first relationships determine how our the neuron connections in our brains become wired in. Do we develop a relaxed sense of well-being, or do we learn that we must be constantly on alert, flooding our tissues with cortisol, without the physical exertion necessary to release it? Connecting with our family in a safe and loving manner creates the petri dish that we need to continue to bring in our own love and well-being as we develop.
As we grow and reach out beyond our family, our relationships and communities become the extended version of our family. It’s where we experience kinship of a different sort. It’s where we discover common wants and needs of people, even when they look different, sound different, speak a different language, eat different foods, espouse different values, and communicate in different ways. It’s where we find our people.
There are times when we don’t see beyond the differences. Only looking at the surface, we create artificial divisions, in the form of racism, sexism, and other isms. We are taught to fear that which is different, and to push it further away. We create artificial divisions in the form of us versus them, Seahawks versus Patriots, Red Sox versus Yankees, our team against theirs, our country against theirs. We create separation in the form of patriotism, or religion. We create separate political parties, each fighting to be the winner, the one, pushing against each other, enlarging the feeling of separation until we believe it’s real. But it’s not. When one person wins, what have they won? They’ve won an artificially created spot on the continuum of separation.
The artificial creation of anything that divides and disconnects us either from ourselves or from each other, causes pain. Disconnection is painful.
The real race is to figure out how to reconnect. How to find our common ground, our common unity. How to create community and unity.
As within, so without. As above, so below. What we see outside of ourselves is first created inside. That’s the bugaboo. We grow up not knowing this tidbit. We live reacting to our surroundings, instead of understanding that our surroundings are a reflection of us. It all starts from within. It’s truly an inside job.
The pain of disconnection from ourselves is killing us. And when we are disconnected from ourselves, we disconnect from the whole.
The gravest disconnection of all is when we block the part of us that is our connection’s transmission center: our heart. We unplug. We get hurt and pile up bricks, stones, boulders, sheets of thick steel, barbed wire, thorns, and more, in an attempt wall off and protect ourselves from becoming hurt again. We close our heart up tight, sealing it shut with Gorilla glue, and wrapping it in duct tape.
As a child, with a child’s mind, I did just this, thinking that I could protect myself from ever being hurt again. What my child’s mind didn’t know, is that we are quite literally designed to be able to be hurt and broken, and hurt again and again; and still be able to rise up from the ashes.
We are designed for our emotions to flow through us, not to hold onto them for dear life. We were made to experience joy and wonder, confusion and clarity, pain, anguish, and fear. Our physical and energetic human bodies are self-healing by design. We skin our knee and it heals. We were created to experience the entire range of our emotions, over and over. We experience an emotion and then let it go. Nobody teaches us these things.
When the flow of our emotions becomes stagnant and stuck, it leads to the creation of physical and emotional illness. Over time, our system becomes corrupted, like a computer with malware.
When we shut down the heart of our internal combustion engine, we are left out of gas, with no spark to ignite our fire, and with no air to breathe. When nothing is allowed to flow, the system completely shuts down. Nothing in, nothing out. Our beautiful eight-cylinder Caddies are left by the side of the road, useless.
Complete disconnection is excruciatingly painful. It’s depression. It’s despair. It’s hopelessness. In its most extreme form, we die.
When we block up our hearts, we are not protecting ourselves from being hurt by others, we are hurting ourselves. It’s like when we are hurt by someone’s words or actions, and choose to hold onto that anger for another twenty or thirty years. When we hold onto anger, it doesn’t do anything to the other person, but it sure fucks us up. (I know because I’ve been there, done that).
At an energetic level, when we hold onto disconnection, it creates stagnation, that leads to disease and dysfunction in our bodies and emotions, heart disease, anxiety, and depression.
To connect to others gives purpose and belonging: the sense that we matter. To connect to ourselves, and I’m talking about our truest, highest selves, reminds us of who we are at our core: love. In remembering this, we can once again embody that love. I’m not talking about fickle romantic love, or even the love we feel for our children and our pets. I’m talking about the most powerful, compassionate, totally accepting and encompassing love that you could ever imagine, times a thousand. That love that instantly reduced me to a bucket of tears the few times I really connected into it.
When we reconnect to that bit of ourselves that’s our core – love – we allow it to flow again. That golden honey drizzles into us and flows from our pores, sweet and delicious. That warm summer sun shines through us, falling on everyone nearby.
When we reconnect to who we truly are, what we are not becomes glaringly obvious. It’s then, that our eyes open to everything we’ve invited in, that isn’t really us. And it becomes that much easier to let it all go: our socialized programming of “shoulds” that dictate what we should feel, how we should behave, what we and our lives should look like, and the list goes on. It becomes easier to recognize when we’ve turned our “shoulds” outwards and they become darts of judgment we throw at others.
As we let go of fear’s death grip that walled off our hearts and strangled our connection, we reconnect to ourselves more deeply. It becomes easier to cast off coats of shame, blame, and other people’s “shoulds”. And before long, we are literally lighter. We discover avenues to reconnect to our limitless love and creativity, feeling when we’re in the flow and in the zone, when we’re tapped in and turned on.
It is through connection to ourselves that we feel better in every way. And it’s through our connection to others that we feel worthwhile and valued.
I was going to leave it at that, but having dealt with mental illness in my family, I know that things like depression are not this simple. Yes, disconnection at its extreme creates chronic depression and can lead to suicide, but that’s only part of the equation.
In my own life, depression showed up looking exactly like it did for my mother (she was bi-polar), as extreme exhaustion and inability to move forward. So I’m pretty sure there’s been a familial connection there. I know that there is a biochemical condition in my physical body that contributes to feeling depressed, involving my endocrine system (thyroid, hormones, etc.), and certain foods.
And I know from my own experience, that addressing physical imbalances, healing beliefs I created through trauma, releasing shame I carried, and especially dissolving the wall around my heart that disconnected me from myself, spirit, and others, has been the way to feeling better, bringing more peace into my heart, and experiencing shorter and few bouts with depression. My mind, body, and spirit, have all needed to be addressed.