Learning to (Re) Connect – Mental Health Minute

By: Lisa Philippart
“I define connection as the energy that exists 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.” Brene Brown

In my last article, we discussed a disturbing trend of separation that I had been observing with my clients in my private practice. Since there has not yet been an app created that can replace human connection, I would like to share with you my thoughts on ways to connect not only with yourself, but to those around you. I am a list maker, so I’ve organized my suggestions in an easy-to-read (possibly printable, hint, hint) format:

1. Smile and make eye contact! Smiling at someone is one of the simplest and quickest ways to connect, whether it be with a stranger or a loved one. You never know when a smile will come at just the right time to have the positive effect that person may need. When you make eye contact, you are choosing to be completely present, which encourages a level of trust and safety.

2. Spend time in nature, or at least away from the phone, TV, and video games. Go for a walk, sit at the park, tune into your senses, or just BE outside. Make the time to connect to your breath, feel your heart beating, or the breeze blowing on your face. This is the perfect opportunity to observe and describe the smells, sights, and sounds around you. You might even want to take a friend with you to enjoy the moment of feeling alive.

3. Practice acceptance. Do you spend time judging yourself and/or others? Do you judge your judging?!? Over time, it will weigh you down. So, instead of trying to ignore that berating, negative voice by pretending to think happy thoughts, let’s try to focus on acceptance and eventually understanding. Acceptance is not approval. It is the willingness to hear and be heard without judgment.

4. Appreciate and celebrate. When we appreciate ourselves, we begin to celebrate those things we do well, or that we at least did better than yesterday! When we appreciate others by recognizing their talents and improvements, growth and change can occur. Making a sincere compliment about yourself or someone else leads to connection and positivity.

5. Be present! Are you a multi-tasker? Then please stop. Try to focus on one person or one job at a time. Give your full attention. When was the last time you really listened to someone by spending time relating through body language, facial expressions, and your overall quality of presence? Spend some time away from your phone, game, TV, and other mindless distractions. People + (FULL) Attention = Connection
Until next time…..Lisa Pilippart
Licensed Professional Counselor