Are You Connecting with the Person Who Matters Most?
At I2L, we believe in connection, and we strive to cultivate a spirit of connection in all the work we do. When you open yourself up to connecting, you open yourself to learning. You create exciting new possibilities for yourself as a leader and as a human being.
Connecting with yourself
When most of us think of connecting, we probably think of connecting with someone else, or maybe within a group of people. In our desire to connect with others, we often lose sight of the importance of connecting with oneself.
Interestingly enough, intentionally connecting with yourself on a more regular basis will naturally help you connect more authentically with others.
Perhaps this concept of connecting with yourself sounds like a far-out idea. What does it mean to connect with yourself in practice?
Connecting with yourself means being fully present with and for yourself. It means:
Noticing who you are, what you truly want, and what is going on for you at any given moment.
Creating space for whatever you’re thinking, feeling and experiencing, without feeling compelled to analyze it.
Shifting your awareness from the external (other people, events and circumstances) to the internal (your thoughts, feelings and perceptions).
Just notice it
You may feel curious as you read this. Or perhaps you feel skeptical. Maybe you think this idea sounds a bit selfish, weird or uncomfortable. What are you feeling about this idea, right now? Whatever your answer is (even if it’s “I don’t know”) – how interesting! Just notice it. Congratulations! You just connected with yourself. 🙂
Even if this idea of connecting with yourself feels weird, awkward or hard at first, I encourage you to remain curious. Open yourself up to noticing what is going on for you more often. You’ll learn more about yourself, and this will help you more easily navigate the complexities of your day-to-day career and life.
Why is it so hard to connect with yourself?
Connecting with yourself requires you to be fully present with and for yourself. Yet Life is constantly throwing information, pressure and directives at us. We are inundated by other people’s expectations of us on a daily basis. These could come from bosses, clients, team members, friends, family members, neighbors…or virtually any other person we cross paths with.
Then, add technology to the mix. Technology can be an incredible tool to connect us around the globe, yet it also creates barriers to connection. Check out this awesome 2 minute video from the School of Life about taking a digital sabbath:
Thanks to technology, we receive hundreds, probably thousands, of expectations from others in a single day. Add those to the expectations we receive from all the people we interact with in real life, and we end up accumulating some overwhelming (and often contradictory!) expectations of ourselves.
And you know what? Oftentimes, we don’t even realize we’re absorbing all these expectations! We plow ahead, with our heads down, determined to meet them at all costs.
When we strive to please too many people, we usually end up sacrificing ourselves in the process.
If you ever feel like you’re scrambling to keep up with life, yet no matter how hard you try, you can’t quite catch up, I urge you to notice it. Hit the pause button, and identify it as an exciting opportunity to reconnect with you!
How can you connect with yourself?
Carve out time in your schedule just for you – alone! Spending time alone allows you to reconnect with who you really are, because it strips away the needs, demands and expectations of the other people in your life. When you’re alone, you can step out of the roles you’ve created for yourself (e.g., friend, boss, team member, professional, wife/husband, partner, neighbor, etc.). When you’re not defined by the career, people and never ending task list that you’re usually immersed in, you can begin to discover what truly matters to you and what you really want. Plus you can have some fun on your own terms!
Take a “me day”
Carving out time for yourself could mean taking a “me day” on a regular basis. A “me day” is a day when you don’t have to worry about what anyone else wants to do! You call all the shots. Maybe you want to spend time in nature, reflect, journal, take a walk, meditate, read a book, try something new that’s exciting but scary, take yourself to dinner and a movie, or sing and dance by yourself with reckless abandon. Maybe it’s something else. Maybe you have no idea what you would do! That’s okay. You don’t have to figure it all out beforehand. The point is to relax and enjoy time with you, and only you (and yes, that means leaving your phone at home or in the other room for a few hours!).
If you don’t know how to do this, then now sounds like the perfect time to try! Experiment with some different things and see what you like (or not). After all, discovering what you want without the influence of others is an essential aspect of connecting with yourself.
During your “me time,” consider the following questions to help you connect with yourself:
What do I really want?
What matters most to me?
What would I do, if I wasn’t worried about pleasing others?
What is one thing I’ve been meaning to do for myself for a while, but I can never seem to find the time to do it?
You will receive the biggest benefits from this practice if you make your “me time” a non-negotiable part of your life.
Don’t wait to do it once a year (although I do highly encourage you to go big and plan for a solo annual retreat!). Find ways to connect with yourself on a monthly, weekly and daily basis.
As counterintuitive as it may sound, carving out some precious time in your schedule just for you is one of the most beneficial things you can do for others. When you are more present with yourself, you will naturally be more present with the other people in your life. Your career, leadership skills and personal relationships will blossom in ways you probably can’t even imagine yet!
Make yourself the #1 person you want to spend time with. I promise, you’re worth it!!