When it comes to connecting with others and projecting an energy that makes them feel safe, welcome and sincerely excited to be around us, the intentions we hold and thoughts we are thinking about people matter way more than we might think. When someone thinks the world of us and is beaming love and gratitude about us, at us, we feel it.
Just as we can feel it when someone is looking right at us, but using the masterful, biological supercomputer between their ears to judge us, to try and process how they are triggered by us, to put us in a mental box based on what they know about the world, or to look for faults in our physical appearance, as much as physical features to compliment. Or dare I say it, in terms of our secret inner biochemistry, get a hit of dopamine or oxytocin off, or not. Which is why the thoughts that we think about others and the energy that we send in their direction is so important when it comes to relating well with others.
If we are to be relatable, likeable and influential leaders and communicators, around whom others feel safe, retraining ourselves to look and feel for what we love about people and appreciate what makes them unique is such an important skill to master. It makes a huge difference between us becoming someone at work and in life that people feel comfortable to approach and want to spend a whole lot of time around, and happily work with and for. Or us becoming someone that, they can’t quite put their finger on why, but they just feel like sh#t when they’re around us and might start feeling like they need to manage how much time they spend with us.
The importance of taking the time to feel and see the inner beauty and uniqueness of what makes someone truly unique on the inside, as opposed to just the outside, was imprinted upon me very young. Yesterday was the anniversary of the day my Mum died. One of the memories that often sticks with me from that day, was the moment that we arrived to be standing or sitting at the end of her hospital bed, 5 minutes after she had just passed. One of the things that absolutely struck me in that moment was that, for how incredibly, advanced, intricate and beautiful this biological machine is that we call a body, suddenly it seems “screen door in a submarine” level redundant when you realise, in the total absence of this person you loved so much's energy, and their essence any longer lighting up their body in that moment, that it's not the vessel at all that you loved and were so attached to. It was the beauty and magnificence, and the thousands of unique intricacies and qualities of the consciousness, the presence, the personality that was them, lighting it up from the inside, that really mattered. That we were truly connected to and truly loved.
And from that moment onwards, when it came to relating with others, I became far less interested in people’s physical appearances and the intricacies of daily dramas and trivialities, and made it one of my missions (i don't always win) to always do my best to look and feel for who was on the inside. (That, and to try and make the most of each and every opportunity I have with someone, to appreciate the preciousness of that unique moment in time and show up fully for it. Knowing that, at any given moment, for any number of reasons, that person in front of you, might, one day, never be there again. And you might never get another chance.) So how can we do our best to get over our human “stuff” and show up for those moments?
I was watching an Eckhart Tolle interview on Youtube last week, in which he mentioned the analogy of how, from the moment you teach a child that a bird is a bird, the child stops seeing the bird. In other words, up until that moment, the child was experiencing the bird live in real-time in the moment. Feeling, seeing, hearing, experiencing the bird as it actually is, and drawing conclusions for themselves. But, the moment you implant a mental construct of what a bird is into their consciousness as learning, they stop experiencing the bird live, and start projecting onto the bird, a construct of who and what the bird is. Instead of experiencing and connecting with the bird itself, live in the moment.
This is a shame, because then we stop really connecting with the actual bird, and start engaging instead with, almost like a holographic image that the movie projectors in our eyes, projected onto the space about 1cm directly in front of the bird. That obscures us from seeing the real bird. Which, If we’re not careful, we can then mistake as the bird, and then start spending our lives engaging with and conversing with the projection image in front of the bird. Instead of with the bird.
How often in life do you think we are also doing this with other people? With what we’ve learned about who they are and how they work, instead of looking and feeling for who they actually really ARE, live in the moment, 1cm behind our projection? How often are we really looking for and relating with the real THEM, as opposed to having a conversation and playing out our “stuff” with the projection we lay in front of them, instead of relating with who they actually are? Is it just me, or when you realise that this is what we might often be doing, does it suddenly seem a bit “nuts” to be spending our time relating with "fake them?" While, meanwhile, the whole time the actual person is waiting RIGHT THERE for us to show up and engage with actual THEM?
If we want to be better leaders, better partners, better friends, better students, teachers, employers, employees, be better at what we DO, maybe we need to stop “projaculating” our mental projections all over them. And start seeing, feeling for, and engaging with who they really ARE, live in the moment. THAT is where the gold of engagement and true connection lies. And it’s not some form of “toxic positivity” to look for the love and cultivate appreciation in the process, for ALL that they are. I think it’s reconnecting with the highest, soulful potential of who we really are and what we are really capable of, when we relate from that place of authenticity, in the NOW. And the benefits and flow-on effects of us doing so, are vast.
Until next time….
Nat talks about Self Expression, Heart Centred Communication and Lifestyle for Leaders.