Have you ever had a friendship that leaves you feeling seen and appreciated for who you are? Or do most of your relationships feel like work these days? Sometimes the people we once felt so close to started to drift away for unknown reasons. Whether they stopped calling, or whether you did, doesn’t matter. There are ways to bridge the sense of distance and ambiguity that we all fall into from time-to-time, and consciously foster authentic connection in our relationships.
Why Seek Authentic Connection?
The desire for authentic connection is hardwired at birth. Our need for connection is actually as important as our need for food and water. We leave the womb totally dependent on others for our survival, and as kids, we usually find it quite easy to play with everyone we meet. Eventually, something shifts and our relationships become more complex; we get emotionally hurt and then try to protect ourselves from feeling vulnerable. Can you relate? I can. This is why I decided to write this article.
I have been yearning for a deeper sense of connection with the people in my life and it would be somewhat hypocritical if I wrote an article on authentic connection but didn’t actually apply it to my life, wouldn’t it? In some ways, writing this is a way of holding myself accountable. I also notice that the times I have felt the most connected are when I practiced the tools in this article.
Even with a ton of friends, it is possible to feel lonely and lacking in authentic connection.
People may define authentic connection differently. For me, authentic connection feels effortless and reciprocal. Most everyone has experienced moments when the connection with another person flows effortlessly and leaves you feeling lit up about life. The problem is that those moments can be fleeting.
10 Tools for Creating Authentic Connection in Your Relationships
Here is a list of 10 things you can do to deepen your relationships and create an authentic connection with the people in your life. Whether you want to rekindle a relationship that seems to have fizzled out, or are looking to deepen a friendship, the following ideas can provide a deeper sense of connection.
When we realize that the love we are looking for in another person actually exists inside our own heart, we stop trying to get love and start giving it. #insourcing
#2 Don’t Take It Personally
If you feel judged by someone, just remember that it is not personal, even when it seems like it is. We often judge others for the things we are afraid of facing about ourselves, or things we have been judged by others for. Those moments when we are able to deflect others judgments by not taking them personally are golden! Freedom comes when we recognize that only those who are feeling insecure would choose to be judgmental.
#3 Stop Judging
Easier said than done, I know… but you will be happier if you work internally on shifting your judgments of others into acceptance. No one is perfect. It also helps to have a practice of self-inquiry so that you become aware of your own subconscious fears and shortcomings before projecting them onto others and distancing yourself from them in order to try and get away from what is actually inside you.
#4 Practice Self-care
When we nourish ourselves in little ways, it helps provide a strong foundation of resilience in the moments of anxiety or stress that inevitably arise in our relationships. Take a bath, have a cup of herbal tea, take a yoga class, get acupuncture, go for a walk, take a nap, or eat a nourishing meal.
Meditation is one of those things that actually isn’t overrated. Sitting with your eyes closed thinking about the most recent movie you watched, or a conversation you want to have with your boss, unfortunately, isn’t meditation. Set aside a few minutes every day to sit and just breathe, allow the thoughts to pass without attaching to them, and let yourself bask in the rays of your own personal inner sun.
Really listen the next time you are with someone one-on-one. It might take a little work on your part to stay focused and interested in the other person at first, but you will be surprised by how interesting people are. Extra credit if it’s someone who you find challenging to connect with.
#7 Reach Out
We often wait around for our friends to text or call us. Instead of waiting, drop your resistance, send a text to someone who has been on your mind, and ask them how their day is going.
#8 Be Vulnerable
Vulnerability is the key to authentic connection. When we allow ourselves to be seen fully, it opens the door for something real to unfold between us and the other person. Brene Brown has done some amazing work on the topic of vulnerability, check out her Ted Talk.
#9 What You Appreciate, Appreciates in Value
Have you ever wondered why you can be completely in love with someone one moment and later on be totally annoyed by them? The person didn’t change, but our perspective of them shifted. The best way to stay in love with someone is to spend time focusing on what you love about them.
#10 Put Your Phone Down
When you are with a living breathing human being, be with them fully.
The habit of picking up our phone usually indicates we are looking for a sense of connection. The irony is that we miss out on the best kind of authentic connection when we settle for a quick social media fix instead.
Create the relationships you want to have
Humans are hardwired to connect with each other. It fulfills a deep need within us, just like eating food, finding shelter, and drinking water. When we realize that it’s up to us to create the relationships we want to have, then we become empowered to reach out and forge the kind of friendships we are inspired by.
Whether it’s with someone we have known our entire life, a stranger in a coffee shop, or someone we consider challenging, authentic connection is possible with anyone. Although sometimes it feels more comfortable to connect with certain people than others, if you apply these 10 tools, you may be surprised to find yourself surrounded by strangers who spontaneously become reframed in your mind as friends you haven’t met yet. Or you may rekindle a long-lost friendship you thought had fizzled out.