The second best time is today.
The best time to create community, or real, deep authentic connections was 20 years ago, the second best time is today.
Many people have preconceived (and often unconscious) ideas about what ‘community’ means. When I say ‘community’, what I mean is simply connecting with the people you want to connect with, in the ways you want to connect with them. I’ve been teaching in the realm of intimacy, relationships and authentic relating for twenty years now. In all the years I’ve been working with people around connection, communication & relationships, one of the most consistent excuses I’ve gotten from participants when it came to building community, was that they felt they couldn’t do something, say something, or be something, with a certain person, or in a certain area of their life, because of one million different reasons.
I can’t do that at work because…
I can’t be that way with my family because…
I can’t say that on a first date because…
I’ve heard every reason under the sun for why a person feels they can’t have real, deep, authentic connection and community in their lives, and none of them are true.
Our excuses always seem valid and real.
People always have reasons why they can’t be real, or be themselves, or create the kind of community they most desire to be a part of. And the reasons always seem real. Right now you might be saying that since covid, shelter in place, and only seeing people on zoom, that you can’t have or make new deep connections. Yes, the virus is real, shelter in place is real, and the way we connec has changed—they all seem like legitimate reasons, but they are not. Just like every other reason I’ve heard over the past twenty years.
Most people want real, deep, authentic connection.
No matter the age, gender, color, or income bracket of the person, the consistent response I get when they share about their experiences in the spaces I create, is: “…well, you gave us permission to be authentic.” My answer to them is always: Great, so give each other permission! Not every human wants real deep authentic connection, but there is no type of person who doesn’t want to be deeply connected, ie. the people in my office, the people at corporate, my (whole) family, women, the moms at my kid’s school… More often than not, the person you want more depth of connection with, also wants it with you – and you’re both waiting for the other to give each other permission: permission to be real, to be silly, to share feelings, to laugh at fart jokes, to be honest about what’s hard in your lives, to share joys.
Now is the time to take a risk.
With so many of the ‘normal’ structures falling apart around us, now is the best time to create things the way you want them. Showing up differently, giving others permission to be more authentic, deeping connections with people you love… If you didn’t start doing this 20 years ago, now is the time to begin. It’s the same as the old adage about ‘how old will I be if I start learning to play the piano now?’ You already know the answer: The same age as if you don’t start learning to play the piano. There is no better time than the present to begin creating the relationships you most deeply desire.
Right now, in this moment, whoever you relate with for the rest of the day after you read this— how can you do so more authentically? Do you want to make more eye contact? Would you like it if there was more talking about things other than the weather?
How to deepen connection.
One of my favourite tips for deeper connection is, if somebody asks you how you’re doing, and you feel like you’re supposed to say, ‘fine, how are you?’ Really look in the eyes of the person, whether it be your barista or the grocery clerk, and answer with some slice of real, authentic truth. You don’t need to totally pour your heart out, though you can if you want it, but say something like, ‘today was ok, I’m having a really hard day, how about you?’
The other Jedi trick I love is to respond to the question you wish they’d asked. So if they say, ‘what’s new?’ You can say, ‘well, today I’m feeling really sad.’ If they ask a question you are not interested in talking about, try saying, ‘do you know what I’m really interested in right now?’ And then share about something you are genuinely interested in, and ask them a question that you would genuinely like to know their response to. Don’t make the other person wrong or judge them, just turn it around to the direction you want to go in.
Stop pretending that the kind or depth of the conversation is out of your control. This makes a huge difference in the quality of our relating.
As Ester Perel says, the quality of our lives is dependent on the quality of our relationships. If you’re looking for more community and real, authentic connection, my online women’s group The Collective is the perfect place to begin. I’m blown away on a daily basis by the way these women relate to each other, the things they bring forward from the depths of their heart and the full range of expression of what it means to be a woman in today’s world. You can check it out here.
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