Pursue What Matters
Episode 119: 7 Keys of Self-Connection
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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Are you disconnected emotionally, physically, spiritually? Well, if you listened to last week’s podcast, you should have a pretty clear idea if disconnection is an issue for you, and today I’m talking about seven keys to self connection. So what can each of us do to reconnect with life?
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:24
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the pursue what matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So with a recent podcast, are you disconnected, we took a look at the modern played of emotional disconnection, it is such an issue for all of us living in a connected world. And of course, this disconnection happens both within ourselves and in relationships. And one of the reasons this is a big issue, right? So there are two issues. The first one is that we live in an information society where we have so much information bombarding us and begging for our attention, right, like everywhere we turn. And then the second issue that really makes connection difficult is that we have these little distraction devices, usually in our pocket in our hands at all time. And so you combine these two issues, right, like so. All of this information, vying for our attention, and then a perfect device designed to distract. And is it any wonder, we don’t know what’s happening within ourselves? Is it any wonder we don’t feel connected to purpose or meaning or our relationships, even when we really love the individuals we’re in relationships with. And so that’s what we talked about last week, I will link to that episode in the show notes. And then today, we are doing a follow up conversation about reconnecting, right. So I’m going to be talking about seven keys to self connection. And really, the hope is to give you some practical skills to help you cultivate self connection in your life.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:29
So of course, every week with a podcast, my goal is to help you pursue what matters by strengthening your confidence to lead, I try to do that in one of three ways leading with clarity, which is all about purpose, leading with curiosity, which is all about self awareness, self leadership and self care, and then leading and building a community. And so primarily, today, we’re really going to be focusing on curiosity. So how can you increase your self awareness, so that you can lead yourself right self leadership, and take good care of yourself, self care, and so we’re really going to focus on the practical skills that you can do to take action every day to re Connect.
Dr. Melissa Smith 3:13
Okay, so if you struggle with disconnection, you’re definitely not alone. This is a plague for so many of us in our in our world, right? But so don’t get down on yourself. Don’t judge yourself, don’t label yourself, but do something about it, right. And so we’re all vulnerable to disconnection to a greater or lesser degree. And there are three things from the research from Dr. Kristine Klessman. I will link to her work and her book, connection. From her research, they found there are three things that you can do to begin reconnecting, and we’re going to be talking about these things today. So the first one is intention, right? You need to be intentional about reconnecting with yourself. So you can’t be passive. It’s not just gonna happen on its own, especially in the world that we live in. So that’s the first thing you need to be intentional. The second thing is attention. You need to bring attention and awareness to yourself to your experience to your life, right. So we’ve we’ve got to get out of our head, we’ve got to get out of our phones, and actually attend to what’s happening within us. And then the third solution that she has is she calls it one simple question. And this question is, am I feeling connected to myself right now? And when I think about this question, I think it is a really good combination of both intention and attention. And what I really like about it is it’s practical and it’s a specific way that you can take consistent action right as you set the intention to be more connected.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:52
You have these touch points with yourself throughout the day. Am I feeling connected to myself right now? What does connection feel like for me? Right. So maybe it’s Gosh, like I feel my shoulders are tight. Or my voice is a little bit hoarse, right? And so that this simple question can direct you towards what’s happening internally for you. And that, right like as you do that, over time, you’re going to start to identify patterns, you’re going to start to notice what’s happening with you. And so what we know is that self connection is the foundation for cultivating meaningful relationships. So learning these seven keys will have exponential benefits across your life, from work to family to friends and beyonds.
Dr. Melissa Smith 5:38
So the first step really is self connection, because that, that actually allows us to be open and available for meaningful connection with others. So it’s really a virtuous cycle there. And so, when, when Dr. Klessman, and her team talk about self connection, they, they indicate that self connection consists of three components. So first is an awareness of you of the self, right? So an awareness of yourself to an acceptance of oneself based on this awareness. And third, an alignment of one’s behavior with this awareness. So awareness, then builds to acceptance then builds to alignment of behavior. And so you can see with each of these components of self connection, they really lay the foundation for the next component. So awareness leads to acceptance, which leads to alignment of behavior. And so why is self connection important? Why does it matter? So from the research, what we understand is that the more mindful people are, the more self connected they are, okay? And the more self connected they are, the greater there will be. Okay, so in a very real way, self connection paves the way for well being in life. And that’s right, like that’s a global term, they pin that down a little bit more in the research, but think about happiness, think about peace, think about joy, right? Think about balance, these are all aspects of well being. And really, really very valuable to most of us in this life. And so what the research shows us is that self connection is an important result of developing a consistent mindfulness practice. So, you know, I’m always talking about the value of a mindfulness practice. And here we have another, another great reason to have a consistent mindfulness practice. Because it, right, like when we have a consistent mindfulness practice, one of the net results of that is self connection, we’re more aware of ourselves, we’re more aware of our needs, and right that can lead us to that intentional action where we’re taking better care of ourselves, which is always a good thing. So some of the other findings related to self connection. So the the higher self connection we have equals greater wellbeing, right? We know that and this includes both flourishing in life. So growing, reaching potential living to purpose, mindful awareness, right. So when you think about flourishing, think about growing. So it includes flourishing as part of well being, but it also includes life satisfaction. So when we think about life satisfaction, we think about having happiness with your life and with your choices, you’re at peace, you’re happy, you don’t live a life full of regrets. Okay, and so those are two components of well being that self connection is tied to and so, you know, self connection is a great thing. It’s an important thing to be cultivating in your life. And again, right the nature of life is it’s an uphill battle for connection. And so we want to be very intentional about this.
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:21
Okay, so are you ready to hear the seven keys? for self connection, right? So these are things that can really help you. And so this is from the research, I’m going to share one of the findings, right, and then I’m going to give you some suggestions, right? So some specific ways that you can take action for each of these keys. And so I hope that you will pay attention to what might be helpful for you, right? Don’t try and do everything for sure. Because that’s that’s not a thing, right? That’s a recipe for overwhelm and so on. But as I, as you listen to the keys, I want you to just take note of one or two things that could be helpful for you. So the first key, so this is, when we think about the keys, they are keys to cultivating self connection, right? So you are in touch with your deepest feelings wants and needs and take action aligned with those needs. Okay, so that’s one of the keys of self connected individuals. So right out of the gate with this first key, most of us are in trouble. Because many of us are clueless about our deepest feelings, our wants, and our needs. And as a psychologist working with folks, over, over a long period of time, I can tell you that this is true. Most of us don’t have much awareness about our feelings, we might be able to say I’m frustrated, or I’m tired, but to really connect to our deepest feelings, that’s hard, that can be very challenging. And one of the barriers to that is vulnerability. Vulnerability does not feel pleasant. And so there’s a lot in life that keeps us from really getting curious about those feelings. And so as a result, we’re totally disconnected from purpose and meaning in life. And so that’s, that’s the first part of what makes this tricky.
Dr. Melissa Smith 11:29
And then the second part is that most of us, even if we do have that awareness, really struggle with taking action, consistent with those needs. So you might be aware, like, I’m really frustrated about this situation, I’m upset, I need to have a conversation with this individual about it. But we stop there. We let resentment and frustration and anger eat at us. But because we’re not willing to take action consistent with those needs, we’re not willing to have a hard conversation. And so you know, how often have you heard someone say, I know what I should do? I’m just not doing it. I mean, that, in many ways is the human condition. How many times have you said this to yourself? Right? I know what I should do, I’m just not doing it. That happens all the time. And so there are so many areas of life where we actually do know what we want and need, but then we undermine ourselves by not taking consistent action in that direction. Some examples include getting more rest, balancing what we eat, exercising regularly managing our tempers, following through on commitments, and the list could go on and on. And so with this first key, I just want you to think about one way that you can increase your awareness of your feelings wants and needs. And, you know, for for an identified need, how can you take action aligned with those needs, so maybe it’s having a conversation, maybe it’s setting your alarm, so you get up and go for a walk in the morning. Maybe it’s setting yourself a bedtime, right? So there’s simple things that you can do to show respect for your needs and desires.
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:18
Okay, now, let’s focus on key two. So the second key to self connection. And this is when you are in tune with yourself and can slow down enough to hear and listen to your gut in order to understand the next right action. So this is a little bit different from the first key so you’re in tune with yourself, and you’re willing, right, you’re willing and you’re able to slow down enough to pay attention to, to yourself right to pay attention to what do I need to do to help myself in this situation? And, of course, there’s so much vying for our attention, this one gets really tricky. So we live our lives out of our inbox. And what I often see is that we are we were living reactively rather than proactively right? So where we’re reacting to emails, were putting out fires. We’re dealing with the the current crisis at hand. But we don’t ever really slow ourselves down long enough to be intentional to be proactive. And the thing that’s tricky about it is slowing down does take time, but I promise you, it will accelerate your growth and your understanding because think about it as you’re climbing a mountain, right? We think about that mountain of purpose. And we’re so busy hiking or so busy making progress on the trail that were not willing to slow down to stop to consult the map. And to consider is is this the right path? Am I going the right direction? Am I heading where I want to be heading? Right? Like are we doing in, in alignment with purpose or are we just busy doing. And so think about slowing down and consulting the map consulting your inner guide, as, as the process here to really help you to stay aligned with, with the next right step for you. And so, you know, I want you to just consider the last time you were quiet. You didn’t have any earbuds in your ears, no music, no chatter, but just quiet. Right. For many of us, even when we lay down to sleep at night. Unfortunately, we have a lot of chatter in our head. And so if you have a hard time thinking about the last time that you had quiet or where you were alone, that would be my challenge to you is take some time to be quiet, take some alone time for yourself. I noticed so I love listening to audiobooks, I love listening to podcasts. But I have, I’ve tried to be really intentional about having some white space time to really get in touch with what I’m thinking, and what I’m feeling about situations rather than always having the input button on because I’ve got earbuds in my ears, right? Or I’m always listening to someone else’s beliefs rather than cultivating and developing my own. Okay, so with this, also consider the last time you were free from your phone, Oh, my gosh, this one makes me crazy. So I actually, I think do a pretty good job of spacing myself from my phone. And I think a big reason is because of the concern I have around disconnection. And I can I can see the impact that it has, and so right. But I, it makes me crazy with other people. And this is where I try to go back to my own work. So I can get out of judgment. But for many of us, we take our phones everywhere, like we take our phones to the bathroom, right? Like there is research about that. And it is not pretty. But we take our phone everywhere. So if you’re going for a walk around the neighborhood, leave your phone, right? And that’s actually a conversation that I’ve had with my family members, right? Like, do you really need the phone on a walk? Do you really need the phone while you’re watching a movie and snow but it becomes it becomes a security device for us right? It becomes comfort, it becomes a source of distraction and the the net result, right? So it can bring us comfort, because it gives us something to do think about the last time you were in a social gathering. And you were alone, and you didn’t know anyone, we find a lot of comfort in our phone, because we can look at our phone. And it looks like we’re busy. It looks like we’re important. It looks like we’re engaged. And so we use phones as security devices as comfort especially in social situations. Or just when we have emotions come up. And we never let ourselves connect emotionally. And so I want you to consider how long you are phone free, and to really work on building in some some time every single day where you are not attached to your phone.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:42
So the last time you were away from your phone, was it under duress Was it because you had no other choice. So remember that our phones and the apps on them are designed to keep our attention designed to keep us scrolling. And so if you don’t have regular phone free time, it’s really unlikely that you are in tune or slowing yourself down. And so some of the things that I do is you know, I I keep my phone in a in a nightstand drawer where it’s plugged in. And when I get home, I will put it there or I will put it in the kitchen basket and just be away from it. Have a break from it. You can set in set up regular check in times if there’s something that you need to be aware of, or you’re expecting a call or something like that. But remember, for most of us, not all of us, but for many of us we remember a time when we weren’t constantly attached to our phones. And you know what we got by just fine. People still got a hold of us. We still got things done. And so I think the biggest work is to challenge your felt need to have that phone on you at all times, and really just build in some phone free times. And I think what you’ll notice is that you become more present in your life. So that would be my challenge for that second key.
Dr. Melissa Smith 20:15
Okay, so now let’s talk about the third key of this of the self connected, so you are emotionally aware and literate. So you would recognize an emotion if it hit you upside the head, right? So you understand emotional nuance, you have emotional literacy, meaning you can speak the language of emotion. So let’s think about what this looks like. You can recognize emotions in yourself and others, you can you can label those, right, like, Oh, it looks like you’re sad, it looks like you’re upset, you’re able to respond thoughtfully and reasonably, while resisting emotional reactions, and dramatic display. So when I think about this, I think about the emotional roller coaster, right, so imagine a roller coaster. And we’ve probably, you know, some of us have had times when we’ve been put on a roller coaster, either emotional or literal roller coaster. And it has not been a fun ride, right? Like there’s loop de loops is pretty, pretty miserable, and you are stuck on the ride, like you’re going for it. And so when we think about emotional awareness, and literacy, and really being able to respond thoughtfully, in a very real way, we’re taking ourselves off the roller coaster, and we are keeping ourselves from ever buying a ticket on the emotional roller coaster. And so this is related to again, this ability to slow ourselves down, so that we can think and we can consider and we can consider what the next right action might be. So the other piece of this emotional awareness is that you know, your sensitive spots when it comes to her feelings, and you take care of managing those, recognizing that we all have vulnerable areas, right? Like we all have tender experiences from our history that can surface for us, when we are interacting with others. And so you have awareness of what yours are, and you take responsibility for managing those, they are not anyone else’s responsibility. So you don’t cast your feelings on others. You don’t blame others for what you are feeling. You take 100% responsibility for what you are feeling in any given moment. This is a really hard one. Because when we when we have pain, when we have hurt feelings surface in a situation, it’s so easy to blame the other person. And the fact is, no one can make you feel a certain way. Right? So you don’t say she made me feel this or it’s his fault. That’s actually not accurate. What happens is we have situations that come up, and we tie those situations to our past experiences of hurt. And so we make meaning about the current situation. And if that if the meaning we make is tied to a historical pain, right, it’s very easy to create a story around that you’re trying to hurt me. No, like no one ever shows up for me, I can’t count on anyone, right, and we jump right into our storytelling, which immediately puts us and if we’re not careful, the other person on that emotional roller coaster. And so I’m going to repeat, you must take 100% responsibility for what you are feeling at any given moment. Right now there can be situations that are challenging, I’m not denying that, but you’re still responsible, you’re still responsible for your feelings, you’re still responsible for how you manage that situation. So you stick to the facts and you stay out of storytelling. You can be proud of yourself and the choices that you consistently make. So those times when we’re able to keep ourselves off the emotional roller coaster. That’s great. That’s something to be proud of. And of course, we’re present and connected in our relationships.
Dr. Melissa Smith 24:31
Okay, so now let’s talk about the fourth key of the self connected, so you are aware of and respect your body. So this boy, this is a big one for so many of us so you know the kind of movement you crave. So you know when I think about my own experience with movement, I have had quite a journey. So I spent years as an endurance athlete and it was really fun, but I totally exhausted myself over time. I did A lot of fatigue, I developed overuse injuries. And eventually I had an injury that was so significant that it ended Endurance Sports for me. And when people ask me about that, they assume that I was devastated. And honestly, I wasn’t. So at the time, I certainly was sad, because there are aspects about the sports that I was engaged in, that I really absolutely loved. But I wasn’t devastated. And as I got curious about that, right, because as I talked to people, there’s kind of this assumption that like, I should be devastated. But as I got curious about that, what I realized is that I was ready for a change, and my body really needed that change. And so in many ways, it was a relief, it was an absolute relief to be done. And, of course, when I look at that, I, the thing that I feel sad about or the wish that I have, is that I would have had more awareness in that moment, more awareness and more commitment to listening to my body during those years. Because first of all, they totally could have prevented the injuries, it could have helped me to have a little more balance with those sports, which by nature, are unbalanced. So I think I think it’s hard. It’s possible, but I definitely struggled with that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 26:26
And so that’s, that’s one thing, right? Like, as I look back, I think that’s one of the lessons, but respecting the changes in our bodies, respecting your needs for movement. So now I engage in strength and power sports, which is so totally different from endurance, sports, sports, right, like way different. But I really think that my body was signaling the need for this change. And it was a really important one. But now I work with a fitness coach who totally keeps me balanced. Because what I know about myself, right, and this is part of self connection, is I recognize that when it comes to movement, I’m not always great at backing off when I need to, right. And so because I have that self awareness, because I know that about myself, I make choices to build in some balance. So for me, you know, the the, the ability to have a fitness coach, right, which I recognize Not everyone can do. That’s been really helpful for me, and so structure, right, it doesn’t have to be as formal as hiring a coach, but having some more structure to help you to build in awareness. Having pause points, of course, rest days, mixing up your activities can all make a really big difference. So what I have found is that this accountability has been really helpful in actually helping me to develop more awareness of my body to have more awareness of what I need. So some of the things that I’ve learned over this time is that I need to rest more, right, so I rest more, I don’t push past limits, I have goals, but they’re very reasonable. I enjoy the process. So it’s not about outcome. It’s not about a specific time, it’s not about getting a medal, right, I don’t move for medals. Movement is all about taking good care of myself. And for sure. What I have found is it is actually some of my best alone time. Now I have friends at the gym, and I really love saying hi to them and chatting with them. But my gym time is really good alone time I’m alone with my thoughts. I’m alone with my feelings. And it’s it’s me and my body. And it’s really good self awareness time.
Dr. Melissa Smith 29:05
So when we think a little bit more about the awareness and respect for your body, right, you have awareness of the food that will nourish your body. So we think about intuitive eating, which is a really great skill to help you in connecting with your body. We think about abandoning the diet culture, which if you think about diet culture, it absolutely pushes us away from self awareness and self connection. You’re also able to challenge messages that you should look a certain way and that if you don’t, you are somehow unhealthy, or there’s something wrong with you. This is a lie. And so being able to challenge these beliefs, so that you actually can connect with your body. So you also recognize when you need to step back from the world, right? So but a lot Time, quiet time, rest, recovery. I think another one that we want to think about with this is your ability to resist FOMO. Right? When you see what others are doing, or others or other people are making plans, can you stay grounded in what’s best for you, rather than getting pulled into boy, I really, I need to be out there, I need to be doing this, I don’t want to be missing out on anything. Right? So you’re alive, you’re present and you’re awake, and you get enough rest. In order to be alive and awake, and you are willing to protect your energy, you’re willing to think ahead and plan for yourself.
Dr. Melissa Smith 30:39
Okay, so now let’s talk about the fifth key of self connection. Right, you are thoughtful about time, and you use it wisely. So listen up, right? The more self connected you are, the more you plan your time, you know, what you’re doing throughout the day, and you have flexible structure. So you don’t need to be rigid, you’re not time bound, that you are aware of time, right. And many talk about this idea that time is our greatest commodity. And in many ways that is true, we are making value choices about our time, all the time. And I think one of the biggest mistakes we make is to be passive about managing our time. So I know when I did my MBA program, right I was. So I have, you know, busy mom, busy career, leading a growing business. And then of course, adding a full time MBA program to that. And I knew I needed to be incredibly intentional about the use of my time if I was going to be successful. And if I was going to maintain any semblance of balance and connection with my loved ones. And it was really wonderful because I, I was able to shift through the things that did not serve me and the things that were not a good use of my time. Very quickly. And what by the time I got done with the MBA program, I just I took a step back, and I just thought, you know, people generally, right, we waste so much time, we just like we are so much more capable than we give ourselves credit for. But here’s the thing, most of us like, we just don’t push ourselves on that. And so by the time I got done with the MBA program, where I really, I pushed myself and I was intentional about time. And I accomplished a lot, right, which was not the main point. But it’s also meaningful, right to be accomplishing things that are personally meaningful to you. When when after I finished that program, I just it made me sick to my stomach to think about not using my time wisely. Now, that doesn’t mean that you don’t rest, right, because resting is a very wise use of your time. But the key really is being intentional about your use of time and recognizing that time is a gift. Right? It is the most important commodity and so, right if if we’re if we’re at the mercy of time, we’re in big trouble. And it is absolutely a recipe for disconnection. And so you know, something to help you with this. One is use a planner, write down your plans for the week for the day, start with an hour if that’s what you need to do, be intentional about what you do, what you choose to do. You might not have total control of that. But you probably have a lot more control than you realize. So you could even make a list of everything you do in a 24 hour period. And that will be a really big reality check. Probably like how much time do I actually spend watching TV? or How much time do I actually spend scrolling on my phone? That’s usually not very comfortable realization but an important one.
Dr. Melissa Smith 34:12
Okay, so now let’s look at key six of self connection. So you gravitate toward the meaningful and you avoid the meaningless now I think this really relates to how we use our time. So are you choosing meaningful activities? Are you avoiding the things that really don’t serve you? So choose activities that fill you up, rather than deplete you? choosing a Purpose Driven Life? You’re moving towards something greater than yourself, you are able to scrutinize the real value of things. will this help me? will this help others, right? You’re not tossed about by fads or shiny objects. So This is when we think about a clarity of purpose, you recognize what’s important to you, why is important to you, and you’re not going to be thrown off course, you resist consumerism, you have a strong inner compass and recognize when you’re off track, right? Because, sure, we can all get off track at times. But this inner compass helps you to recognize when you’re off track, right, those moments when you need to stand to the side of the trail, and reassess, take a look at that map again. And you can easily access your highest priorities in any situation, right? So when you’re in a situation, are you able to connect with your values? Are you able to connect with purpose, this makes decision making so much easier, because you’re able to get yourself out of situations that don’t serve you, you’re able to make better decisions for yourself intentional decisions. And so you avoid a lot of a lot of the grief and a lot of the friction by making informed decisions.
Dr. Melissa Smith 36:08
Okay, and now the seventh key of self connection, you check in with yourself daily to acknowledge and meet your needs. So this one’s a really important one. Do you have that check in process for yourself? You know, back in the day, when I was doing a lot of clinical work, one of the things that I often assigned to individuals who were working in eating recovery was to have daily check ins with their loved ones, where they just did a little accountability check on how is the day How are you feeling? What were the thoughts that tripped you up? Were there any behaviors that got in the way? What are you doing to help yourself cope? And so when we think about a check in with yourself, right, so whether you’re working on eating recovery, or you’re just working on more self connection, these daily check ins can be incredibly helpful. So it could be just what I described, where you sit down, and you take a minute, and you check in on those questions. They can be self reflection activities, journaling, that’s my number one. Daily check in with myself, I often say that I don’t know what I think, or believe or feel until I have journaled. And that’s really true. For me, it is a way of processing what’s happening internally. For me, meditation, meditation is incredibly important. If you remember what I talked about at the beginning of the podcast, a mindfulness practice which meditation is one form of mindfulness practice helps us to be more self connected, which contributes to greater well being. So we think about having quiet time, right? So my time at the gym is also a quiet time. For me, although the gym is not quiet at all. Think about food movement, sleep, you can do a quick check in about your functioning and your willingness to make better choices. So write that accountability, check with yourself, you’re honest with yourself and with others, you live in reality, and you’re curious about your experience when so when you notice something, instead of getting critical or judgmental, you can get curious about that so that you can understand and cultivate more awareness, which can also help to shift your intention.
Dr. Melissa Smith 38:29
So there you go, there are the seven keys to self connection. And so I gave you lots of suggestions. Hopefully, it didn’t overwhelm you. But my call to you my request, my invitation to you is to just choose one to two things from what you’ve heard today, to focus on, in an effort to reconnect and strengthen your self connection. So there’s no need to be overwhelmed. You can just choose one thing, just choose maybe one thing or two things. So maybe it’s you know what, I’m going to do a self check in every day, or I’m going to get myself to bed earlier at night. And then make sure you head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode. You can find that at www.drmelissasmith.com/selfconnectionkeys. Okay, so one more time, that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/selfconnectionkeys., I’d love to hear from you on Instagram. I’m @dr.melissasmith. And of course you can find the great resources for this episode at my website. I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai