Relationships can be the most rewarding and the most frustrating things in life. They reward us when they fulfil one of our fundamental human needs – connection. We are social animals and feeling connected makes us feel loved, worthy and together. Relationships frustrate us because when we are disconnected from one another we often feel exposed, vulnerable and alone.
We were born with a physical bond to our mother and since birth, when we were physically separated, we yearn to feel connected again. In relationships, whether professional, romantic or plutonic, we usually experience strife as a challenge; something that feels awkward, wrong or traumatic. This discord comes from that deeper trauma, that deeper disconnect that gets stirred up.
In a world of being plugged into social media, messaging, emails and phone calls it’s ironic that people are feeling more and more lonely. We may have many friends on Facebook but how many people know our darkest secrets and love us anyway?
The essence of connection is communication – the sending and receiving of information between us. Communication goes far beyond words and includes tone of voice, body language, facial expressions, breathing patterns and even the electrical activity of your heart. We broadcast this information every second of everyday – we can’t not communicate.
If communication is so prevalent why do we still feel so frustrated, challenged and alone? One of the reasons is that we are so busy with the conversation in our own heads we don’t pick up the signals the person is sending out.
Listening is the art of interrupting our internal monologue for long enough to receive and interpret what the other person is broadcasting. In that space of listening and not just hearing, of observing and not just seeing another person, magic happens. Life happens. Connection happens.
Dr Greg Venning