“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”– Albert Einstein
I love that I was able to find a quote about connection from Albert Einstein. Hashtag Math Lovers unite!
Okay, let me start off by saying that I’m coining the term “connection priming” not because I’m a hipster, well maybe a little bit because of that, but because I believe that combination of words adequately describes a repeatable process I use in my every day life.
A lot of people know me as the guy that is all about connection. I wasn’t always that way, or rather I was that way and I lost my way.
Regardless, for most of my life I had a hard time connecting with people. I didn’t even have friends from the age of 10 to 19. I don’t know exactly why? I think it was because I was very sad, out of sync with myself, and in a constant state of feeling lost and alone. I felt emotionally deprived and, over time, I built a thick shell around myself.
My solution: I decided that if I couldn’t connect that I would choose not to connect. Over time this left me feeling socially hollow.
From the outside, my life looked great. Straight A student, did sports, was nice to others, polite, and took care of my shit. (Well all my logical shit. My emotional shit was all over the walls, unpredictable, and misplaced.)
On the inside, I was my worst demon. I felt alone in the company of others and lonely without company. I hit an all time low in my depression when I was 18; the type of low that makes you want to stay in bed forever, be numb, and give up on life. In my depressed state a grand debate was echoed across my mind and I came to the conclusion that if I maintained on my current course, I wouldn’t have much gas left in the tank to truly keep going. I needed to change.
Back then I honestly believed that I was the worst person in the world at connecting, the very absolute worst. I viewed myself as so incredibly weak at this skill that it was painful.
But if I was the worst, that means that I could get better. I was going to learn how to connect or I was going to die trying. And so began the first time I ever decided to redefine myself, and, as this was the first, it was the most potent.
Fast forward about 8 years later, and I am quite happy with the progress I have made. Connection comes quite easily to me thanks to years and years of hard work and my constant pursuit of understanding this topic. This is, to this day, my proudest accomplishment.
Most of the people who know me today wouldn’t recognize the young man I was then, nor would they have ever known him. Learning how to connect with the people around me has been one of the greatest journeys of my life which has also given me the greatest benefits and gifts.
So, let me tell you a little dirty secret.
Let me tell you one of the repeatable habit that I use every day to connect more deeply, more honestly, and more effectively with people. It’s easy to do, and, it works for me. I hope it works for you.
It all starts with a mindset
The following is my viewpoint on the world, and my opinion. This is also the mental basis that I operate off of in better understanding connection. I of course find value when I do not have to think of these ideas while meeting new people, and rather connect purely because I feel so inclined to do so.
On that note, here we go!
All of us desire connection, primarily to connect with certain people we deem worthy to connect with: people we find physically attractive, people who have fame, people who have things we want, people who have money, people who are happy, people we want to have sex with, people we admire, and people we feel can improve our life.
I don’t believe that it is wrong to know who we want to connect with. It might not sound honorable, but we connect with people that we want things from. I believe this to be a very human thing.
I started to notice that, whenever I focused on obtaining connection with one particular person, my level at which I could connect actually began to drop. This was unfortunate because when the opportunity to connect with that person arose, I would, without fail, fuck it up. Being hyper focused on connecting with one new person doesn’t work for me.
This is a pattern that I repeated over and over again. I went to a bar, saw someone who was cute, focused my energy on connecting with her, and would find myself stumbling upon words. I would feel completely unnatural, and you can be goddamn sure that she would feel that unease as well. Think I got her number? Think I made a new friend? The answer should be an obvious NO!
I had a mental block I had to get beyond.
Connection, like love, is not a finite thing. Connection is something that is additive. The more we connect throughout the day, the stronger our ability to connect with ourselves and others becomes. In this vein of thought, every person you meet is worth connecting to, albeit maybe briefly.
You start by connecting with yourself
Before you can honestly be present with another, you have to be present with yourself. For me, there are so many voices rolling around my head throughout the day, and, if I give them too much free reign, I find myself in a fog.
I meditate in a few different ways throughout the day.
For example, when I go to a bar, and I want to connect with new people, this is what I do:
- I turn off my phone.
- Order a drink, and talk to the bartender.
- Close my eyes and really experience the atmosphere of the room. What does my drink taste like? What does the bar sound like? Is there a sound pattern to the space? Is it loud, or is it quiet? How do I feel today? What’s on my mind?
- Rinse and repeat until I feel completely comfortable in the new space and connected with myself.
Then, here is where the magic happens.
I start connecting with people, one person at a time
I connect with the person that is closest to me. Right then, and right there. Seems a bit much? Maybe they will be made that I jumped in? Not necessarily. I wrote a really good piece a while back called “Intrusiveness? How you can meet new people every day“.
The only way you will meet new people and connect with them is if you interrupt their day in some fashion. Trust me.
Then, after I connect with that person, I connect with the next, and the next. There is something really cool that starts to happen, people will notice.
People will see you connecting with other people in a genuine way, and they will want to connect with you. They will look your way. They will smile at you. They will come up and talk to you and make sure that they get the chance to connect with you.
And, before you know it, you probably connected with that one person that you wanted to connect with when you walked in.
The interesting thing that I’ve noticed is that, a lot of times, I actually enjoyed a previous conversation more than the conversation I have with that “one person”. I find it easy to pedestal the people I long to connect with the most, but, when you get to meet them for who they are, maybe they are better left as a stranger that you only connected with that one time.
What I’m trying to encourage is an abundance mindset around connection
It’s easy to get laser focused on a certain person. Trust me I understand. Let’s play a gambling game real quick.
In front of you are two boxes.
Inside Box No. 1 is 7.7 billion tiny slips of paper. On one of those slips is the prize. You only get to pull out one slip of paper. If you pull that piece of paper out you get $1 million.
Inside Box No. 2 is 7.7 billion tiny slips of paper. 50% or half of the tiny slips have a prize of $100,000. You get to pull out 20 pieces of paper.
You only get to choose one box. Which do you choose?
Much love, as always,
P.S. Dear reader,
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