From Hyper-connectivity to Real Connections
When I first saw the Maslow pyramid 2.0, the one where the most basic need for a human being is no longer physiological needs but “wi-fi”, I used to laugh and thought it was a good joke. Today, I am quite concerned about it as this looks true for so many of us! Nowadays, with the 4G available pretty everywhere we should rather talk about the craving for connectivity which entails: wi-fi, 4G, ethernet, fiber, cable, etc. Not being able to be connected to Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, our emails, Amazon, Netflix or Spotify can create the same negative emotions than not having food when we are hungry. We simply become aggressive. Have we really reached the point where we prefer to have access to internet than eating?
The worst is that many of us have also replaced the real face-to-face conversations with family members, friends or colleagues with digital communication. Thinking that it is more effective and we save time. What about the quality of these relationships? Is it becoming deeper and closer in doing so? The scary part to me is that we bring more attention to our smartphone, which is obviously funnier, more intelligent and attractive than our fellow human beings. As soon as it vibrates or makes a sound, we drop everything to check the notification, we quit the reality for a while, we interrupt the conversation we were having with someone, we disengage from the party we were invited to, we are not present with our children anymore, our connection to the real world stops simply because we think our phones are more important and mainly because our brain has got used to these shoots of dopamine which boost our mood. We actually can’t help checking because our whole life is in our smartphones, important emails, chats, posts, e-banking, photos, and all the apps that we use daily to save time, loose weight, meditate, shop, find ideas, be informed….and for the ones on social media, it is the fear of missing out (FOMO). What could we do otherwise?
Most people check their phones 58 times per day1. Yes, we are hyperconnected and it is a fact that we need to accept. Each time we check our phone, we shift our focus, and this is as bad as multi-tasking. It was also found that shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40% of our productive time2.
However, we will not be able to change this hyperconnected world we live in but we can manage our relationship with the digital world in a healthy manner and keep a balance with the real life. Here, I am not going to give guidelines on how to set up your phones to avoid notifications, or how to handle your smartphone use but I will rather expand on the types of communication that create meaningful connections which will naturally decrease our dependency to our phones.
You may have heard this a hundred times already but the most important thing in communication is not the talking, it is the listening. Remember, we have two ears and only one mouth – this means we have to listen twice as much as we speak. I am repeating this because I feel that we rarely listen fully to the others. Either we interrupt them before they have finished their sentence, we talk about our views, our experience or we think of our response while the other is talking. Are we being fully present to the other? If we listened to others until their flow of words are over, we might learn something interesting from them, we might discover a part that we were not aware of. Giving the others enough space and time so that they can fully express themselves is a way to connect deeply with the others. When parents communicate full attention with their children, they feel heard, they feel respected, they feel trust, they feel loved. There is no need to be a psychologist or a coach to adopt this type of communication, it is simply a matter of putting yourself aside for a while and be fully present in what the other is saying, without judgment, without trying to find the “right answer” but simply be there with your whole body, face and mind and listen carefully.
By simply asking: “How are you feeling today” we automatically create a deeper connection with the person we interact with. It requires the other to look inwards and name his/her feelings. Of course, there is a high chance that we get the polite: “I am fine” but here we should repeat the same question and listen genuinely with eye contact. As a Kids Life Coach, I regularly start my sessions by the “Inner Weather Forecast” where I ask the children: “What is the weather like inside you today?”. It is easier for them to say: “It is a bit windy” than “I feel agitated” but the link to their feeling is made and they open up to their inside world.
This technique should not only be used with your kids but most importantly with yourself. How often do you ask yourself: “How are you feeling right now?” – Try this several times per day and listen carefully to what comes up. Taking care of oneself starts with listening to oneself. This can prevent conflicts, burn outs, wrong decisions or accidents. I practice meditation every morning and have taken this habit of observing my inner state before and after meditating3. It is a way to connect to my inner world and listen to my body, my mind and my heart. During the day, I also listen to my self-talk and when I hear some negative thoughts or reactions, I pause, breathe deeply and readjust myself.
Finally, another type of communication that I find so powerful in terms of connection and regeneration is the communication with nature. Being outside, either walking or simply sitting in a beautiful spot and listening to all the noises of nature brings calmness and a sense of connection to something bigger than us. Nature has this capacity to send positive vibrations to our deeper self which feels this subtle energy. When I close my eyes in the forest and listen to the noise of the leaves in the breeze, the cracks of branches, the singing of birds, it appeases me and removes stress and negative thoughts. I feel so much gratitude and love for life in these moments. The last thing I want to do is to check my phone!
To end off, I would like to give some tips on how you can create hyper-connectivity with yourself, the others and nature in order to decrease the one with your smartphone. This will bring you more energy, meaning and balance in your life:
1) Connect to yourself at least 3 times per day asking: “How are you feeling right now?”, listen carefully and adjust your behaviour. If you hear: “I feel tired”, stop what you are doing and take a break or rest. If you hear: “I feel angry”, breathe some fresh air deeply 5 times, drink a glass of water and do something that you like (drawing, singing, playing an instrument or jogging).
2) Connect to the others in a more meaning and profound way by asking the same question: “How are you feeling today?” Wait for the answer and listen with all your heart. This can be transformative for your relationship. Do it with your kids every day, it will deepen your connection and you might even discover interesting things about them!
3) Connect to nature, ideally every day and listen to all the noises you can. 10-15 minutes are enough to regenerate yourself and connect with the positive vibrations of nature. It can be in a park or in the woods, the lakeside or your garden. Take this habit with your children and explore more places as you go. Don’t forget to mute your phone here!
4) Lastly, when all the above has been done, rushing to your phone might not be your first reaction anymore because you will feel fulfilled and connected to life. However, don’t forget your friends from other continents who are waiting to get some “likes” from you! This is how we keep long-distance friendship nowadays 😉
Kids Life Coach
Seeds of Joy Kids Life Studio, Switzerland
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