Aspects of Healthy, Generative Relationships
Connection as an aspect of generative relationships is generally ignored by mainstream writings on relationships. It can be viewed as one of those “unseen” qualities of humans. But as spoken about below, it’s importance cannot be overstated. We look forward to hearing from you on this topic.
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”― Brené Brown
Connection, from a generative point of view, is having two strong individuals come together with presence and with the skill of deep connection without losing themselves. Either in your primary family or through your experiences in life, how often have you seen a couple and felt the strong, loving connection between the partners? This appears to happen much less often than seeing or being with partners that seem as if they are truly connected in a positive way, but are not. And this is different than partners that are overly enmeshed in their relationship. The ability to connect to others and to allow others to connect to us is a skill. How we approach connection is almost entirely defined by our historical shaping. Only a few people learn an ease and openness of connection, and this is vitally important in a thriving relationship. Done well and practiced, positive, generative connection with our partner develops and increases over time.
Let’s expand on the possibilities of generative connection. It is through connection that we are able to fully see, appreciate, trust, and be open with our partner. It is the willingness and ability to be seen, be vulnerable, and be fully honest and transparent together. On an energetic level, there is a felt sense of other; scary for some, exciting for others. The evolved (or devolved) state of our humanness in today’s world promotes separateness, but the natural state of humans is connection. Matthew Lieberman in his book Social, suggests, “Our need to connect with other people is even more fundamental, more basic, than our need for food or shelter.” Allowing the recognition of connection as a basic human need and practicing in a choiceful, generative manner paves the way for depth and fulfillment.
*Connection is happening anyway, so we might as well get good at it. Reflect on an experience you may have had in a conversation or when meeting someone where you could feel them connecting with you. What was happening? What did they do? What did you do? Cultivating generative connection is a learned skill, and during our formative years we learn to connect. The way we learn this may or may not serve us. The possibility is there, but not necessarily the skill. We are all potential energetic connectors, and generative connection happens energetically. We can physically reach out, touch, and connect, but that is not exactly what we are talking about. Humans are both material as in atoms, molecules, skin, bones, and organs; and also energetic beings as in awareness, consciousness, and the energy streaming in our bodies. All the healing systems such as acupuncture, acupressure, Polarity Therapy, and Reiki, to name a few, are supporting the energetic body. Quantum physics also suggest that everything is matter and energy at the same time, and that includes us humans. Energetic connection is happening subtlety all the time. The skill of connection is the ability to direct our energy and give it feeling by purposefully attaching dignity and a relevant positive mood. This is not as hard as it seems. If you use your imagination, “seeing” this happening, directing attention and managing your mood, you are doing it. Even though there are those for whom connection is experienced as dangerous or unacceptable, connection is happening between humans anyway. This is mostly done without choice and intention. When choice, intention, and an uplifting mood are in place, we feel strong, positive connection with others. Done well, this opens the possibility for authenticity, curiosity, compassion, and empathy as opposed to judgment.
Sit opposite your partner (you can also do this practice with any good friend) facing each other making eye contact. Notice how you are in this moment. What script are you running? What is your mood in this moment? Are you contracting or tightening in your body, or maybe you are relaxing and becoming more expansive. Also notice what it is to be in the presence of your partner without speaking. Are you present? Do you feel connected to your partner? What is your bodily response?From this starting place, imagine that your self, or energetic self, is extending towards and enveloping your partner. Is there a different feeling when you do this? Do you feel more or less connected? Please note: If nothing changes or you have difficulty “feeling” a connection, be easy on yourself. This just means that you have not yet developed this skill. There is nothing “wrong” with you.
For a stronger connection bring your seats closer (or stand up) and one of you reach out and gently place your hand on your partner’s heart. Make sure you place you hand flat with the palm of your hand in full contact with your partner and maintain an upright posture. Give yourself permission to feel the connection, leaving your hand placed there for about a minute. Notice if there is somewhere in you that is contracting or relaxing. Alternate this with your partner, one person extending and connecting, then the other, doing this 3 times. Notice what this is for you. How does it feel? Easy? Hard? Loving? Disconnected? After several repetitions, both partners extend each placing a hand on the others heart at the same time. Stay in this for a minute or so, again noticing your response. One of the things you are looking for is how it is for you to see yourself in the domain of “connecting with others.” Recurrence of this practice over time will assist in building a capacity for connection.
If you see a recurrent issue that is difficult or seemingly impossible to shift, the practice is revealing a place for your continued self-work.
Cartoon courtesy of Meredith Broome http://www.relevantelephants.com