We all yearn for closeness…to connect
Frieda Fromm-Reichmann describes loneliness as “the want of intimacy”. Loneliness is often is associated with a feeling of abandonment; that that painful, scary feeling, which most all of us have experienced at some point. Whenever we are reminded of this feeling or anticipate it in the future, we get a twinge of abandonment distress that we experience as loneliness.
Feeling separate from others results from focusing on how others are different than us. When we look for differences, we will find them. When looking for similarities, you will find them as well. There’s nothing wrong with doing either; however, each has their own set of consequences.
When we spend time focusing on the differences, we begin to have thoughts about how “It’s different for him because he’s a man,” “She wouldn’t understand because she’s never had to struggle,” “He has kids so he wouldn’t have time,” or “She’s so attractive, she would never ‘get’ my situation.” We start to place others into all sorts of categories.
Most of these categories include all the things that make them different from us. With this sort of thinking, eventually, we will find ourselves standing alone against the entire world—us versus everyone else.
Although we all have different circumstances and situations, if we look beneath all the differences, we can see that we all share a common human experience. We all feel the emotions of pain, love, loneliness, fear, loss, sadness, and joy.
When we allow ourselves to understand that the human experience we share gives us more in common than the different circumstances we may be in, we can start to feel a lot closer to other people. This is the way to begin to mend feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Becoming curious about others enables us to connect to them. The secret to connecting with someone else and feeling a sense of bonding isn’t to simply fill up time up with idle words and pointless conversation topics. Connection is achieved through shared experiences or empathizing with others.
Allow your curiosity to naturally steer the conversation. Ask a simple question. If you’re paying attention (instead of worrying what you’ll say next), you’ll notice that there are many conversation topics embedded in a simple answer or comment that can keep you talking for hours and result in a much deeper connection.
If you’re hungry for a deeper connection with others, by pushing beyond your comfort zone and putting a bit of yourself out there, this can steer the conversation in a deeper direction.
The root of building a connection with someone is getting to know them as more than just a collection of surface level facts. Once we start to learn more about their feelings and opinions on things, we can begin to develop a bond.
It may seem vulnerable to put yourself out there. But sharing parts of yourself with others not only enables them they get to know you, it welcomes others to get more personal and share more of their feelings and experiences too.