This week I kept learning about connection. I had a wild and precious conversation with Cate Baio and it got deep and really lovely, so we’re still talking about connection for this week, too.
Connection is challenging in the best of times. I am noticing that it’s getting more difficult for many of us now. I notice a lot of shaming words when I am out in the social media-verse. I can’t think of anything more isolating than shame. And in our increasing isolation, nothing can at times be more shaming.
But, and I stick by this, we’re hard wired for emotional connection. The humanity within us craves connection. If we’re not seeking healthy connection, though, we will find unhealthy pseudo-connection.
I know I fall into “fawning” when things get tense, because for me, breaking up tension and keeping everyone calm even if it means really giving up my needs, rights, preferences and boundaries is a survival instinct.
My gut feeling, as things become a bit more heated around us, is that we tend to break into two distinct camps: those who tend toward bullying “my way or the highway” and those who tend toward “fawning”. There are a tiny few in the middle who are dedicated to healing. I want to join them — and I want you to join me there, too.
See you on the other side.
— Nelson Mandela
Let’s work on authentic connection a little. Yikes, right? We’re in this together, for the long haul. I don’t see any vacancies in hermit caves opening up around me :)
Here’s what I suggest for this week. The Examen from Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits:
1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Look toward tomorrow.
Choose to journal by reviewing the day with gratitude this week and see how it feels for you. While you are journaling, pay attention to your emotions. I know gratitude often brings up it’s distant cousin resentment for me. And that’s a great signal that I need to dig a little deeper and figure something out. Keep writing. Keep writing.
If we want to be connected, ironically, perhaps the most important thing we need is good fences. Boundaries. Some of us trample over boundaries, breaking them down even when they are carefully built while others have such weak boundaries that they’re pretty hard to see — so when people do trample through them, well, it is kind of on us to rebuild them more carefully.
As you go out into the world this week, notice your boundaries. When things get tense, do you tend to trample them? Do you tend to feel trampled?
It’s a big quest :) I know I need to be so careful about boundaries and when I am not, man do things go sideways, fast.
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
Relationships are easy when everyone is feeling calm, on the same page, and pretty happy.
Boundaries are needed for the other times. And that’s when we notice whether they’ve been made well or not. And that’s also when we notice whether we tend to care about other people’s boundaries — or not. Often, there’s a power dynamic. If you’re a kid (and we were all once kids) your boundaries are often disregarded, unfortunately. This sets us up as adults to sometimes disregard the boundaries of people we feel are not as important.
So, this week, if things get harried, notice boundaries. If yours need repair, care for them by retreating (totally okay) or standing up for what you need (also okay!). If you trample someone’s, try to understand how human that is, and how it’s okay to make mistakes, and how important it is to let them know you see what happened.
I am pretty sure we’ve all been in both situations. We’re human. Beautiful and messy all at once.
6. POD Poem of the day Robert Frost: Mending Wall
7. Podcast (The Nod — Tyler Thrasher)
9. Hero: Nicholas Yung, Boundary Stalwart
Why? I just learned about this guy, who wouldn’t sell his land to Charles Crocker in San Francisco. Crocker built a 40-foot fence around Yung’s land, essentially blotting it out and showing what a petty, cruel person he was capable of being.
Fast forward through a very long story of a 40 foot fence that stayed — the Yungs moved but didn’t sell their land — to the time when the land was donated to charity.
It is now the site of Grace Cathedral. If you don’t know about Grace Cathedral, it’s lovely. A place that helps to break down boundaries, among other great works.
10. Take Care of Yourself This Week and Share if you know someone who might like this.
Wild and Precious Podcast, the audio partner to 10 Things, is available everywhere you download podcasts. Connection episode with Cate Baio, transformational coach, Thursday.