By Dr. Ken Larsen
I have noticed a growing awareness of our need to be connected. We need the life that flows within and between us in relationships. Yet with this growing awareness, I wonder if many of us don’t see this as something that “they” need to deal with. I’m going to suggest that this is something that “we” and “I” need to deal with. I need to learn better ways of touching the lives of others, if not for my sake, then for the sake of the other. Loneliness within our culture has risen to the level of an epidemic. What can I do to help?
Even though we know we need one another for our mental health and happiness, many of us connect with one another about as well as bumper cars connect. We approach, we come close and then we bounce off.
As we choose to come to a place of wanting to make some changes in order to meet our need for love and belonging, we need to have a plan for “what” we can do differently.
One way to change would be to take a look at how our expectations of others cause us to withdraw rather than connect.
If I have a mental picture of who you “should” be in relationship to who I want you to be, and then you don’t live up to my expectation, we bounce away. Both parties can sense what is happening. The other sees subtle cues in the ways I express myself in body language, facial expression and in words. There is an awareness that we don’t measure up that may not find itself into consciousness, but it is there.
First of all, this is not fair to one another. How can I possibly be who you want me to be. I can only be me. If you accept me for who I am, and if I accept you for who you are, we can at least avoid bumping off each other and who knows, we might even find something in one another that is good and interesting and that brings us closer to one another.
I’m trying out a new word to express this shift. Instead of “expectations” let’s work on “acceptations.”