5 ways to nurture emotional connections in your relationships
Sometimes the people we love most and, those who love us, can get into a downward spiral in our relationships. We can feel them slipping away in spite of effort to connect better with them on an emotional level. In such instances instead of love being shared, love is often being drained and eroded.
How are our emotional connections eroded?
The person in question may well have been someone we could not wait to spend time with and now we’re happier being away from them.
Navigating other people’s minds and hearts is a significant challenge for everyone. Today’s frantic, short-attention-span world makes connection harder still.
Below are five tips to help you foster a stronger, better connections with those you love. They will aid you in good times and during those moments when you want to turn around and scream (hopefully to a wall or in a park!).
#1: Breath and mantra
Two common reactions that often take place when negative feelings show up in relationships are:
- Emotional highjacking. This is where we feel taken over by the emotion because we feel hurt or disrespected in some way. We may yell, shout, get angry, or want to have it out with the other person right there and then.
- Numbness. In this case, the negative emotions are shutting us down. This may take the form of ignoring the other person, internal head talk on the theme of “I don’t care”, going silent or even ending the relationship in our mind. Of course, if we really didn’t care, we would not be so upset.
If you recognise these pattern in yourself, next time you’re in a difficult situation take five deep breaths and repeat this mantra or make up your own.
I am gentle, kind and patient.
I have found this mantra to be incredibly powerful. It has helped me love others in times when loving wasn’t easy.
As we return to a more neutral emotional state we return to our true power and resourcefulness. When we are calm and gentle, we can attend to our own needs and those of the other person far better.
#2: Express love, appreciation, and gratitude to the people in your life
Take time to tell people in your life how great they are. I mean it.
When was the last time someone told you that you’re special, beautfil or talented?
Practice connection with courage by complimenting others more often. Tell people in your life that you love them and what they mean to you.
Tell them what you appreciate about them and how much you miss them. If you express how you feel, you will most likely connect to the same feeling within their heart.
When was the last time that you wished someone else the best of things?
If you feel so inclined, ask someone you care about if and how you can contribute to their happiness.
As we live ever busier lives, we often forget to acknowledge people’s vital role in our lives, express love or appreciation for them and even say thank you.
Don’t let those sentiments die in the pit of your stomach. Air them out and often.
#3: Forgive someone who has hurt you
While this is not often easy to do, forgiveness helps us foster healthy connections. Even if you can’t forgive someone just yet, practice saying out loud
I want to forgive you. And, I want to forgive myself for not being able to do that just yet.
Notice what happens as you do this.
Current levels of stress are high and people often either expect too much or not enough. This can lead to conflict.
Examine your key relationships and notice which side appears needy and which seems needless. Self-sufficiency is great but it has a way of pushing other people away. Also, it is easy to appear ‘needy’ to a person who is scared of connection and who keeps to themselves. Consider what’s most likely in such a dynamic, unless one person spots what is going on and names it.
For example, the apparently “needless” person may end up needing to face the following: “I seem to be self-sufficient so what role exactly do I want the other person to play in my life?”
The apparently “needy” person may need to come to terms with the following: “I seem to have become over-dependent on this apparently needless person. However, I can find others who are better connectors.”
Notice how simply naming what is true, helps both sides pinpoint what may need to change.
There is little time to make comprehensive agreements about everything in our relationships. Also, relationships are not contracts. Where would be the fun in that?!
And yet, with the best intentions, it’s easy to offend or disappoint others, even those we dearly love.
This is part of life.
But once you know that someone has caused offence or suspect you may have, make amends and forgive yourself and them as quickly as you can. You will feel lighter, happier and have more energy to nurture healthy connections.
If you work through conflict with someone, your relationship will gain a new level of trust and respect.
If you carry the hurt, your burden will rob you of energy and willingness to connect with those around you. Worse still, it will leave you disconnected inside.
#4: Tap into the power of touch
The intimacy of a physical connection is incredibly powerful. Touch is used in healing for this reason. It has the power to soothe when it is given with a positive intention.
When was the last time you felt embraced by another person in a way that made you feel deeply loved or simply marvelous?
The mind will often play tricks with you. You may find yourself thinking “But why doesn’t he/she reach for me?”
Does it really matter who goes first?
Rather than wait for someone to make the first move, practice courage in connection. A lot is at stake in doing this.
Research shows that couples who hug on a regular basis have half the stress levels of couples who don’t. This alone is a great reason to connect more with people you love. And then, practice courage in conversation and tell your partner that you enjoy receiving hugs as much, if not more, than you love giving them. Aim to be honest about your needs and feelings. It’s where true connection dwells.
#5: Share a joke
Laughter helps us to connect with people in our circle. What better way to do that with those you love than through a joke or a funny film.
Don’t know any jokes? No problem. You can look up jokes online and share them with your family and friends in one of your gatherings or bring them to your next date. Plus, it’s a brilliant way to make use of those pesky phones that generally interrupt connection.
Share 5 or 6 jokes with the people you’re with and be amazed at how laughing together helps you all connect on a deeper level.
Whatever you do, keep in mind this wisdom:
“Be a good human being, a warm-hearted, affectionate person. That is my fundamental belief.”Dalai Lama
How can I connect better with people around me?
My experience as a coach shows that more often than not, the problem begins with us.
If you feel yourself harden inside in some relationships, pause and question what’s going on? Is there something I can do to create a better emotional connection. Chances are there is more to learn about how you:
- speak about your needs,
- initiate or sustain aliveness and connection with others,
- stand up for yourself and what you need from key relationships,
- love others and yourselves enough to recognise when you simply need to move on.
Let this blog be an invitation to make a willful intention to reconnect with yourself and your needs.
Allow yourself to find the power and grace of your core beautiful, gentle, loving and patient self. This is who you are deep within. Here you will find the love and safety you may crave to see reflected in the eyes of others. When we love ourselves enough it is easier to build healthy and strong connections with other people.
Coaching work on emotional connections
Coaching clients on how to stand in their full authority as integrated people, I have learnt that the truth of our experience is the perfect starting point for making positive changes in our lives and all relationships. Integrating our hearts and minds can help us connect better with our friends and family, as well as improving our working relationships.
If you feel or think that your life may benefit from working with a coach, please get in touch.