Connection Heals the Divide
Disconnection is at the core of mental and physical disease.
Finding the path towards connection, especially when faced with strong emotions over an issue, is a lot to unpack. But connection is also the core of mental and physical well-being.
Flip on the T.V., scroll through social media, and meet new people; you can find words like these for your consumption.
These words evoke disconnection or connection depending on what part of the divide you sit with the subject at hand.
Recently while swimming with my granddaughter, another grandmother was out swimming with her grandchild. As grandmothers would do, we started sharing our grandchild's joys. She also did a quick check to see if we were politically aligned. When she determined we sat on different political sides, she moved away, and our grandmother's connection broke. The political divide was too much to cross to connect.
Over the last years, the increasing dialogue of disconnection has created a deep divide in our country that taps into our emotions, beliefs, perceptions, and how we live. It makes connection a complex expanse to travel.
Disconnection is at odds with human nature. Psychology researcher Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D., found that this disconnection is not only linked to mental illness but is the single most crucial aspect of mental health. In the book "The Body Keeps the Score," he writes, "Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives."
Disconnection results in dissatisfaction, depression, and even physical illnesses.
When I read these words, my world shook with clarity. The "us" versus "them" dialogue creates disconnection, and it is being carefully played in our country to destroy us. I know those are strong words. We have lost the art of collaboration or compromise, even at the pool between two grandmothers. This disconnection is tearing our families, friends, and country apart.
The divisive nature around us defines disconnection. The more this pot is stirring, the more you check someone else's politics, beliefs, or "team," and the more disconnection between groups grows. It feels like a switch in our world has been turned on to create disconnection. What does this serve?
What a dangerous path we weave when we allow our beliefs, perceptions, and behavior to shut down our willingness to cross the divide and find a way to connect.
The opposite of disconnection is connection.
The connection does not mean agreement. Connection is the willingness to listen and look for areas that align or pieces of the puzzle that connect.
At the beginning of the fun book "Bookshop on the Corner," by Jenny Colgan, she sums up the path to connection.
"The view from up here is different,' said Robert Carrier, extending his wing. 'When you look at things the same way you've always done, nothing changes. When you change perspective, everything changes.'
'But this doesn't look like the city at all,' said Wallace in amazement. 'It's all sky.'
"Quite,' said Robert Carrier, fixing his beady eyes on the slightly grubby boy. 'There are many different types of sky.'"
There are many different types of sky to explore. We don't have to like all of them. For instance, I am not fond of winter skies full of cold, wet snow. Yet, I know this sky and can navigate it when needed. And sometimes can even embrace it feeling connected to it on the level of loving nature.
A connection can be challenging. It can even be scary to step into unknown emotion-filled lands that push us. But connection is also healing.
What does it mean to feel connected for you?
What does disconnection feel like?
What bridge can you build from a place of disconnection to a place of connection?