The past year has been truly intense. I have participated to several workshops, summits, meetings in order to learn, evolve, grow in my business with other people. By the end of it I was exhausted. I also noticed something else. In the spiritual, coaching, emotional growth community, the focus is very often on the “I”. A lot of emphasis is placed on things that are directed towards “I” centered goals. Learn to “self” love. Learn to “self” help, “self” heal and take care of your “self”. Learn “self” empowerment. Achieve “my” wealth. Achieve “my” abundance. Get this or that goal for myself.
It’s very interesting because in the past century or so, with industrialisation, our society has moved from a structure based on community to a structure based on individuals and small nuclei. We have moved from communal living with several families and neighbours to single-family, single parent or just single living nuclei. We have moved ideas of success from community contribution to self-achievement, wealth accumulation, and so forth.
All these workshops and meetings have left me with a sense of dry-ness and I now see why. I realised that we are missing the most important discussion of all, to replenish the medicine that is most missing in our world: connection.
Instead of tackling the issue heads-on, we look for more creative ways for compensating with the most fundamental problem in our humanity: isolation.
Humans are a social species. We are not meant to function on our own. We are not supposed to be happy when we are not an integral and essential part of a community. That is the way we are designed, at the root of our DNA. Empathy is the glue that holds us together and makes it so that our self interest is not as important as the interest of all, and that we seek for win-win rather than win-lose scenarios.
It is such a key element to comprehend, and yet so little is said in the emotional-growth and self-development communities about this fundamental factor.
The disease of our humanity is literally that we have forgotten how to connect. We have become afraid of each other, and we started to put armours and shields in our interactions with each other. We no longer feel safe to express who we are authentically, for fear of being judged, rejected, unwanted. We no longer feel safe to be vulnerable for fear of being hurt.
We build self-preservation walls around us, with the purpose of not having to rely on each other. Having a lot of money sounds attractive, because it means we don’t have to rely on other people with our needs.
Yet we are not meant to function this way. This literally does not work. As we lose our connection to each other, we lose the ability to create win-win situations, and someone starts to lose. We also keep working to fill the void within us, where connection with other people should be, and we hustle to accumulate external abundance in order not to feel it.
Eventually this system is going to crack, one way or another. We have already seen the effects of this disconnect at a global scale. As our isolation feeds narcissistic leaders and codependent relationships, our focus is towards accumulating at the cost of our very Mother Earth.
So how do we get back to having these conversations? We need first and foremost to understand our most fundamental needs, not just the self needs of abundance, wealth, power. The need for true connection.
How do we even start to connect? If we understand that humans are beings that at a fundamental level cannot survive without each other, and that we are constructed in such a way that, by our own interactions, we can understand and fill each other’s needs in a way far greater than the sum of the individual parts, we can see why being vulnerable with each other and authentic about where we really are and need is key.
Judging each other for the place where we are at or for what we have and don’t have and need doesn’t serve us in any way. We are not meant to be fine on our own. A need is a chance for us to connect with another human and meet perhaps the most important need of all: the need to meet each other’s needs. Have you noticed how good you feel when you know you’ve been of great help to someone? Have you noticed how people in collaboration can achieve so much more than an individual? It’s because we actually need to help each other. That is the beauty of it.
We can’t connect as long as we have our shields and armour on. We need to see each other vulnerabilities, pain, needs, desires, wants, in order to meet each other’s needs.
And that means we need to be wiling to see our own as well. We need to be willing to be present with our pain, our unmet needs, our deepest desires, our heart, and listen to it and express it authentically.
It is easier said than done in a world where we have been raised to believe that there are some parts of us that are not acceptable, that are not normal, that are not ok. We want to hide those parts for fear of not being loved fully for what we are. Those parts are often the most painful, shameful, needy parts of us, because we had to separate those parts in order to conform in our childhood. We had to leave them out in the hunger of lack of connection. Yet it is by re-acclaiming these most vulnerable parts of us that we can truly, deeply connect with each other. And fill each other’s cups.
I want to end with a quote I just coincidentally heard today: “Good leadership is about rising up and coming onto the stage and saying “people, rise, up”, but great leadership and great mentoring, great love is always, not sometimes, always, about coming down. It’s about meeting people where they are, in their struggles, in their challenges, in their adversity.” Jogh O’Leary