Finding Our Way Back
We were made for connection with one another—literally born for it. The architecture of our brains is built by human interaction or the lack of it. And all throughout our lives, that reassuring warmth of a hand on a shoulder, unguarded laughter at a shared joke, quiet companionship in grief, affirming words offered over a job well done, or simply the spark of recognition when eyes meet acknowledges that, if even for only an instant, we’re in this thing together.
But without those connections—with a partner, family member, friend, or community—it’s natural to feel isolated or as if you’re not truly known. And at this time of year, when the days grow shorter and colder and interactions may feel full in quantity but short on quality, loneliness can start to creep into the gaps.
Here, we’re sharing ideas for ways you can strengthen those meaningful connections. Starting with ourselves and expanding to our closest relationships, friendship circles, and broader community, we can rebuild those bridges. Because we know this to be true: The more we practice offering the gift of attention, of intention, the more we’ll be able to recognize the same goodness coming toward us. Little lifelines link us back to what matters, back to ourselves and one another.
STRONG CONNECTIONS START FROM THE INSIDE OUT
When we’re weighed down by the heaviness of feeling alone, it can be hard to even think about conjuring up the energy to be connective, much less actually reach out to others. But we can start small by making little investments in our own energy bank to build the internal resources we need to look outward.
Remind yourself of your worth by taking time just for you. Ask yourself: When was the last time I did something just for the pleasure of it? What’s a small thing I could do today for my own good? A nap? A trip to the park? Create something?
INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS: CHOOSING TO BE CURIOUS REKINDLES CONNECTION.
Our deepest emotional connections form with those with whom we feel the most known and accepted, whether it be a best friend, spouse, or parent. But as time slips by, we change, and so do our people. Curiosity chooses to notice and be genuinely interested in that change, and it’s the glue that restrengthens the bond with those closest to our hearts.
Think of a close relationship in your life. What do you know about their current job? What are they most excited about or most worried about right now? What have they learned about themselves lately? Whatever you don’t know, consider asking them next time you see them.
FRIENDSHIP CIRCLES: OFFERING (AND ACCEPTING) EASY INVITATIONS MAKES LIFE-GIVING GATHERINGS POSSIBLE.
The consistent connection points in our lives—our coworkers, buddies from college, or children’s friends’ families—provide friendships that hold a mutual commitment of care. But as life’s demands change, our ability to intentionally engage can dwindle. When we get creative about how we come together—mainly in the form of regular, low-pressure activities—those gatherings become a refreshment rather than an obligation. And when everyone plays a part, the lift is lighter and the collective sense of belonging is stronger.
Ask yourself: When was the last time our group got together? What is a simple, joyful way we could gather in the next couple weeks—something easy for everyone? Game night with popcorn? Caravan to see Christmas lights and end with hot chocolate?
SENSE OF COMMUNITY: REIMAGINING WHAT WE HAVE TO OFFER MEANS ALWAYS HAVING SOMETHING TO SHARE.
The desire to be a part of something bigger than ourselves runs deep in all of us. We find meaning in finding people who share our values and desires. This can show up in your neighborhood, a nonprofit with a cause you care about, or with fellow soccer team parents who want the kids to have a great season. But connection in community can also look like small everyday moments: offering a bottle of water to your postal carrier on a hot day. A firm hug. A genuine smile at the checkout. There are so many ways to say “I see you.” The invitation is to lift our gaze and notice those opportunities for eyes to meet.
In the bustle of the day-to-day, pause and ask yourself: What and who do I see in front of me right now? How can I help? What do I have to give in this moment?
Kathleen Geiger, MEd, LPC is a psychotherapist based in Central Texas who has been in private practice for almost 25 years.
(Source: Magnolia Journal)