Do you feel like you’ve lost connection with your partner? With your kids? With yourself?
Have no fear–this one’s for you.1) BREATHE.
Yes, all in capitals, because it’s that essential. And strangely, so easily forgotten! I’ve had clients who tell me that they haven’t taken a deep breath in days.
Shallow breathing actually makes you feel more frenzied and less in control. Deep breathing will make you feel more grounded and present, both of which are key ingredients in connection.
2) Take some time for yourself.
This might seem surprising if your goal is to connect with your partner or your children. But self-reflection is important, because there are all sorts of ways to be disconnected. Is it that you’re just not talking at all? Are you talking and not feeling heard? Are you talking too much when what’s really needed is just a hug or some other form of touch?
While you’re giving yourself a time-out, you can consider where you’re really losing touch with yourself and others. Sometimes it’s that your life is so frantic and you have so little left for yourself that there’s just nothing to give. Or perhaps it’s that you’re feeling depressed and you’re isolating.
Until you really consider the how and the why, you won’t be able to design a course of action. Which bring me to…
3) Once you figure out what’s missing, think about how to provide it–for yourself, and for others.
This might be something best done in conjunction with someone else. It could be a friend who acts as a sounding board, or perhaps the person with whom you’re feeling disconnected. Sometimes it’s as simple as just reaching out and saying, “I really miss you. Can’t we spend some time together?”
Or if there’s a lot of anger, it might be a whole lot more complicated than that. But you don’t want to marinate in anger, frustration, and/or resentment so if that’s what’s keeping you far away from someone you love, then it’s really time to take action. I see couples who can exist in that mode for months or years, and by the time they seek couples therapy, it’s too late. The chasm is just too big to traverse. Don’t be that couple.
If the problem is with your kids, consider whether you’re expecting too much of them developmentally. Are you treating them like they’re already adults, with all the coping skills and resources that implies? Are you trying to connect with them on the appropriate level, given not only their chronological age but their maturity?
Lastly, are you just too spent and depleted to want to do anything, or be anything, for anyone? If that’s the case, then where you start is with yourself. Determine how you recharge best, and prioritize that. Don’t assume it’ll just happen. You have to make plans for your own mental health, and commit to following through on them. The primary relationship is the one you have with yourself, and that’s where it all starts.