Cultivating Connection With Yourself In Stressful Times
We are missing other people. We are missing physical contact and we are finding new and innovative ways to stay connected. However, our ability to connect with other people in genuine and authentic ways rests on one key connection not being talked about. How can we maintain and improve our relationship with ourselves during these uncertain times, and why should we be so interested in it? And what are tried-and-tested ways that we can re-gain lost connection with ourselves, especially when we feel we are falling back into old patterns of behavior we hoped we had moved on from?
Why Disconnection is a problem for many right now
When we are under any kind of stress or fuelled by fear, we retreat into our ego. Our ego is where we have stored all our strategies and coping mechanisms, learned throughout childhood, to keep us safe. Three outcomes inevitably follow:
- Our coping strengths come into play. If you are someone that is a natural giver, for example, you may be volunteering and working all hours, picking up others’ slack, being the listening ear to others’ stresses, and problems. Your desire to care and help come to the fore.
- The problems of our coping strategies also come into play! For a natural giver, that can mean that you don’t check in with your own thoughts and feelings, you become overwhelmed by over-working, your inability to say ‘No’ means you agree to do things but then either can’t or don’t want to follow through and your self-care goes out the window.
- You experience the loneliness of disconnection. Our ego builds on our separateness from others and from creating a false sense of self out of our coping mechanisms and patterns.
Why your relationship with yourself is so important
Our relationship with ourselves gives us the template for our relationships with other people. If we can’t really bear to tune into how we are feeling, we are not going to be able to have emotional intimacy with other people. If we have a strong inner critic and so we often blame and shame ourselves, we are likely to be harsh with other people too.
By contrast, a strong relationship with ourselves gives us safety, peace, and compassion. It lets us live from a place of love, rather than out of fear.
What you can do to re-connect with yourself in times of stress
There are three areas to focus on to re-connect with yourself in stressful times.
Self Care Comes First: You will probably be familiar with the saying “Put your own oxygen mask on first before you help others.” Well, it’s true! If you are a natural giver, you want to look after everyone else. Remember you can’t do that if you are exhausted.
So, a quick check-in for you: How is your sleep pattern? Has it changed? Has your routine fallen away? Then, how are your eating habits? Are you giving your body what it wants in terms of water and nutrients? Or has snacking crept in? And then movement – our bodies love to move! What can you do to get your body moving that you will enjoy and keep coming back to?
Re-Connecting to Self: If you don’t meditate, I highly recommend it. Even if that sounds too much, try spending just five minutes each day sitting quietly and simply noticing what thoughts and feelings come up for you, without judgment. This practice is so powerful in helping you connect with that part of yourself that is beyond the critical chatter or difficult feelings, into the true you that lies in awareness and expansiveness.
You can also ask yourself “Who is in charge?” Is it your inner child, who is trying to get attention by making everyone happy, or is having a tantrum because you aren’t paying attention to their needs? Or is it the ego, who has you running old patterns of behavior, is filling your head with stories and overwhelm so you can’t think straight? Or is it that healthy adult part of yourself that knows truth and love and real connection? Who do you want to be in charge? Ask and they will come.
The Present Brings Peace: For those moments when you feel stressed, drop into the present moment by slowing down your breathing and focusing on it. You can also try focusing on one object in the place you are and noticing every detail of it, relating to your five senses.
We all want and indeed need connection now more than ever. Our relationship with ourselves is the cornerstone of all our relationships. What is it that you will do today to stay connected to yourself?
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