Connection has many different meanings and connotations. It can mean that we have connected to wifi so we can use our devices. It also means that we are looking to bond with another human being.
As I meet with people, I hear the cry of their heart to want to matter to someone. We want to have a connection with family members, a girlfriend or boyfriend, a husband or wife, even just one single friend. Connection means that I matter. In a world where we are striving to connect through social media, where it feels like we matter when we get a certain amount of “likes”, what I hear is a yearning for someone to think that we are worth their time, effort and attention.
In the book, Created for Connection, Sue Johnson shares four behaviors that are key to feeling connected or attached to another person. They are: “that we monitor and maintain emotional and physical closeness with our beloved; that we reach out for this person when we are unsure, upset, or feeling down; that we miss this person when we are apart; and that we count on this person to be there for us when we go out into the world and explore” (Johnson, 2016).
In John Gottman’s language, this means that we turn towards another person. We know that the majority of the time that we turn towards our partner or friend or family member, they will respond in a way that is affirming and available. Gottam notes, “each time partners (or friends) turn toward each other, they are funding…their emotional bank account” (2015).
Practically these moments would happen when, for example, we find something interesting on social media and share it with our partner. The hope is that they will turn towards us, that they will respond that they heard us. When we come home from a particularly productive or frustrating day at work, we want to feel heard by our partner by them expressing excitement or consolation accordingly.
It also means that when we are walking through our deepest and darkest moments and it feels like there is no hope at all, the people that we are connected with can sit with us in those moments. They might not have words to say, but we know that they are there and caring for us through a hug, holding our hand or reading our texts.
Some of you will read this and struggle because it feels like there is nobody in your life that fits the definition of “connection.” How do you get through that? One way is to try counselling.
While it may feel like it is a construed relationship because you are paying for services, it often is a healing relationship. If it is done right, counselling provides a safe, accepting environment, where there is no judgement and you are accepted just the way you are.
The goal of a counsellor is, strangely enough, to work themselves out of a job because you find healing and strength to move forward. They can help you learn more about yourself and what types of connection you are looking for.
If you are interested in exploring more about what connection looks like for you, or just want to have a space to be yourself, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, 604-359-4470 or book an appointment through www.canvascounselling.com/appointments. I really look forward to connecting with you!
Gottman, J.M. (2015). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. New York, NY: Harmony Books, p. 88.
Johnson, S. (2016). Created for Connection. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company Hachette Book Group, p. 25.