How do you connect with the people you love?
Some of the best relationship advice I can offer, is showing HOW you connect (or don’t) with the people you love. As a therapist, this is some of the best information I have ever received and offer.
Some of the best relationship advice yet.
You’re hardwired to connect with others. In fact, all mammals are. The problem happens, when this is at odds with the fact you’re also hardwired to protect yourself. Protection from both emotional and physical pain are hardwired. Like the rest of us, you probably desperately want to avoid embarrassment, situations that feel scary, and probably difficult feelings. And you also want to be close to others, feel accepted and know that you matter. Especially with the people you love the most.
And physiologically speaking, you can’t do these at the same time. It’s one or the other. Sometimes this works just fine, but other times it can create a whole lot of problems in your most valued relationships. Let me explain.
It’s Connect or Protect.
You want to connect with him, right?!
Connection feels like:
Relaxed and Calm
Excited or Happy
Protection looks opposite.
Protection feels like:
Rigid or Chaotic
Emotionally Checked Out or Angry
Tense or worried
Anxiety or Depression
Why Does This Matter?
You protect and connect in various ways, just like George. And for survival reasons, we are all more likely to go into protection mode, rather than connection mode. You have a negative bias, meaning that negative things, like unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or social interactions have a greater effect on you than do neutral or even positive things.
Throughout your day, in a millisecond your brain decides if you should protect or connect with others. And this is just as true for everyone else in your life. When you’re in either mode, mutual regulation of the nervous system happens. Your limbic brain regulates the other person’s limbic brain. When you’re in connection mode, the people around you are more likely to connect with you. When this happens, you both are likely to calm down and engage with each other. And when you’re in protection mode… well the people in your life tend to go there too.
How to Make Your Relationships Stronger.
If you’re struggling in a relationship with someone important to you, you’re probably in protection mode, a lot. And this triggers them to be in protection mode too. Sometimes people can describe protection as depression or anxiety. But if you want to make the relationship stronger, happier, and more connected, then getting out of protection mode can be a very good first step.
Do you smile and try to connect when you see them? Or do you ignore them and find that their not receptive to you either. Is your face and body open or closed? Is your voice soft or stern? Are your eyes soft, bright and engaged?
The way you say something, is often more important that what you actually say. And the way you say it, is determined in a large part by whether you are in either protection or connection mode.
If you’ve been in protection mode for a while, it takes some time to begin to feel safe enough to connect. And then it takes some time to get into the practice of connecting… but it’s often a very effective way to start to open up relationships. Clients have told me that this is some of the best relationship advice they’ve received.
You Can Start Today.
Consider sharing this post with someone you trust. You can send this post to them or ask them to read it with you. Sharing this info, will make it much easier FOR YOU to use it. And then the benefits can come faster and be greater.
One of the fastest ways to improve your relationships can start right here. For a video from a gifted colleague on connection and protection check this out.
If you’re struggling in a relationship, you’re probably in protection mode, a lot. And by changing what you do, you will absolutely have an effect on what they do. Promise. That’s how relationships change.
If you found this helpful, feel free to share it with your friends. Maybe, you could share it with someone really important to you?! The one you want a better relationship with? Because when you share info, it can make a bigger impact on you, as well as possibly them. Maybe it can even be some of the best relationship advice you’ve ever shared… I know it has been for me.
I’m a licensed therapist is the State of Missouri and I see clients in my office in St. Louis County. Very few things are as important as the connection (or disconnection) we have with the people most important to us. I specialize in helping people change their relationships. Helping them to create the love and connection that we all want and need!