The one thing this world needs more of right now are men and women who can build healthy emotional connections.
I was listening to a podcast the other day, and as the interview began, the interviewer began a barrage of “me, me, me.”
The interviewee had little input because each time they spoke, they were again bombarded by the “me, me, me.” Then they did the only thing they could do: they remained predominantly silent.
I instantly recognized that the interviewee was solid within their own emotional state, and they recognized that the interviewer was clutching.
There wasn’t just a desire to talk about themselves—this was an unmet emotional need within them, which should be sourced from within.
At times, it was unpleasant to listen, but I was interested in the small tidbits of wisdom the interviewee had a chance to share. They were few and far between, but they rang with clarity and depth.
The simple truth is that we are starving to be heard, to be recognized, to be liked, to be seen. But how many of us can actually say that we know how to develop healthy emotional connections?
Is there a manual?
Is it titled, “Emotional Connections for Dummies?”
Separate tab to check out the infinite possibilities, but, in the meantime, these are my three humble offerings of how I believe we can start to foster deeper, healthier, and genuine emotional connections:
Make People Feel Heard
Storytelling for humans is as important as the air we breathe.
We connect intimately by sharing stories—this is how we develop emotional connections with giddy cries of, “Me too!”
In the days of old, we would do it beside the hearth, the flames licking the sky. But what I have noticed lately is that while we love to share our stories, there is a lopsided imbalance.
People are talking, shouting, and screaming for their stories to be heard, but how many of us are listening? Really listening?
Most of us are too preoccupied with sharing a similar story in rushed excitement.
There’s nothing wrong with that kind of sharing. In fact, it should be encouraged, but we need to be a little more aware of how we are making others feel heard.
As with all things in this life, it requires finesse to find that sweet spot of balance.
Don’t Be Afraid of Depth
Wading out of the shallows of small talk can feel daunting.
Brené Brown so eloquently stated that “shame dies on exposure,” and most of us have become quite accustomed to the safety of the shallows. It keeps us in our comfortable, little worlds where nothing can hurt us, and, at the same time, it doesn’t let anything else in.
Go bravely into deeper water.
Remind yourself that deep questioning or conversations that are difficult—or maybe at first uncomfortable—are normal. This is how we strengthen emotional connection.
I’m certainly not saying find a stranger, spew the depths of your soul, and ask them questions that will have them reeling. Please god choose your moments.
But know that when you open up in a deeper way or allow someone to open up in that way with you, you create emotional magic.
It’s also interesting to notice some people’s pushback to this. It’s a telling sign of how emotionally open or receptive they are to particular topics.
If they want to only talk about the inane, well, you have your answer as to how deep they have met themselves emotionally. And before we can be open emotionally with others, that sh*t has to start with ourselves.
Practice Empathy and Non-Judgment
I specifically used the word “practice” in the heading of this because quite honestly, we are all passionate as f*ck (my favorite unit of measurement).
We hold our beliefs dear, and as the world becomes annoyingly more sensitive about so many things, we start to lose our ability to empathise with others or simply not to be a judgmental douche.
If we want to forge these beautiful and healthy emotional connections with one another, we need to respect that not everyone believes in the same things we do.
I once had a friend who believed we were only in each other’s good graces when we agreed with one another. Needless to say, the friendship ended.
An authentic emotional connection says, “I don’t agree with you, but this is a safe space for you to share with me, and I can offer my opinion if you ask for it.” Or, “I’m not here to fix anything—I’m simply here to listen.”
This is no small feat, but I wholeheartedly believe that with more empathy for one another, we can strengthen that emotional connection, and most importantly, learn from one another.