Most of us have a deep desire to care for people and to be cared for. It is our most innate longing to be loved and to love, to have secure relationships that are based on trust and that feel comfortable. One of the most profound ways to truly receive this is to learn how to give it first and then with the right type of people, the cycle will begin and will flow more naturally with less effort. When we learn how to give, we learn how to receive, and then we will open the door to the affection we hope for.
Here are some ways that may help you connect:
1. Learn to be an empathic and active listener: People are attracted to good listeners and they complain that there aren't that many of them around these days. People are also skilled at telling a real from a phony, meaning someone who is really listening or someone who is just pretending to be listening. The bottom line is one of the skills we need to learn when we want to connect to someone on a deep level is to learn to listen to them empathetically. Empathic listening means we put all of our baggage, distraction, need to control and beliefs as to how things "should" be outside of the interaction and attend fully to the person we are listening to. In other words, it will be about them not us. When doing this we need to focus on not interrupting and judging them, and we should not try to give them advise unless they specifically ask for it and we explicitly know the answer. If not, the most courageous thing to do is to simply say "I don't know" and continue listening; these three simple words can do so much damage prevention and many of us refuse to say them.
2. Learn to engage on a deeper level: Interacting with people has a number of components to it that is more than just small talking. It is a connection on an emotional level with the person. When we want to connect emotionally or in an in-depth manner, we need to learn how to do this. When we learn to just sit and give someone our full attention and really listen to them from our heart rather than hearing them just with our mind, the effects are miraculous. An exercise you can use to get into a deeper connection with someone you love would be to start by telling them you want to get to know them on a deeper level, by telling them how much you care for them and love them.
Then you can ask questions like these: Their name... I love you or I care for you. I want to get to know you more. I want to know what your views of the world are. Have you loved? If so, what do these feelings feel? Have you been hurt, if so, how did you bounce back and how did it damage you? Were you a confident person growing up? Were you happy most of your life? Was life hard on you? Did you feel loved growing up? Do you enjoy having me around you? Were you often scared? Why do you think the way you do? Help me understand you. What are you thinking when you look at me and why are you thinking that? What are your hurts, fears, disappointments? What were some of the main influences in your life? Why do you think the way you do? What do you think about life? What were your attitudes about the world? What did you think of other people, other nations, religious, sex, money, work, virtue and the soul? What is your relationship with God? What is God to you? What really bothered you in life? And what inspired and delighted you? How can I be better to you?
3. Respect differences: People's view of the world and how to live it may not be the same as yours due to their life's experience, their temperament, their personality, their environment, how they experienced love and support, how open their life was, how much security they felt in their life, and their accessibility to education and knowledge, their capabilities, and their mental state. Once you start to open the door to understanding that, you automatically feel more compassion and acceptance. When you accept, you don't judge, when you stop judging, people start responding to you and connecting to you.
4. Modify your need to control: When you want to impose your own views and "shoulds" on others, they start running away from you either emotionally or physically. If you want to invite someone to your heart, you need to respect their individuality and understand that they are separate entities from you and may have differences that you need to adjust to. This type of unconditional love is attractive to people and will bring to you the type of connection you are looking for.
While you're practicing these, you may want to also take into consideration that some people may not have the desire to connect as much as you do for different reasons like their personality, their life style, emotions like fear, personal preferences and a wide variety of other reasons. So, don't have unreasonable expectations when it comes to connecting. Things like "I should connect deeply to everyone" are idealistic and irrational and will disappoint you and deplete you of your valuable energy.
At the end, it is important to mention that if you are trying to reconnect with a person that has abused you in any way, or a person who may take advantage of you, then you may need to hold on to this type of communication and the tools mentioned above and seek an expert advice to make sure there are no more damages, boundaries are clear and communications are productive rather than not.
Roya R. Rad, MA, PsyD
Self Knowledge Base & Foundation
A non-profit dedicated to public education