About, Musings on Life

Connection, at What Cost?

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One of the few things I have realized as I have started to dig deep is that connection matters. It may not be something that is universally agreeable but to me connection is important. I think connection is what I am here for, it is my purpose. I worry though that we as a society have started to connect in an unhealthy way. I have noticed this mostly in myself.

As a child, I wanted to know everything. I would listen in to my parents conversations and try to find out what was “really” going on. Looking back I realize part of me wanted to know because I saw that knowledge as power. I believed that if I only knew I could prevent things, protect myself, save myself from pain and every eventuality. Sadly, that is just not true. The more you know does not mean that you can prevent bad things from occurring. This doesn’t mean I’ve stopped being curious, but it does mean that I am not curious for the express purpose of preventing tragedy.

Eventually I developed a common enough habit of gossiping, I would share my sneakily gotten information with others. To be frank, I also felt some thrill of being better than the other person and gave myself full permission to judge their actions and blame them for the result. I thought by sharing we would then be tied in together. We would be connected. This just wasn’t true. It wasn’t until I read Brene Brown’s book Braving the Wilderness that I realized why.  In her book, Brown discusses the idea of a vault, the idea that being a vault for others and being able to share with others are connected. When we hear about the secrets of another, we learn we cannot trust this person. If someone cannot keep the secrets of another, what makes me think they will keep mine? I know in our culture gossip is common. We think it is harmless and fun, but in reality it degrades our relationships with others. By gossiping, we play jury, judge and executioner. We stop seeing others as human and we start thinking of them as a form of entertainment. When someone does this to us we understand how painful it can be, but we often do not consider how our own actions can cause that pain for others. I struggle with breaking this habit, but I am learning it is one I need to break. I need it for my sanity, and I need it to truly connect. When we start to see other people as human and to think of them as doing their best, our view of the world shifts and changes. We go from thinking someone is judging our actions to considering that they might be trying to help. We recognize that their hesitancy or negativity has more to do with them than it does with us. We recognize that our anger at others can be unjustified and harm us just as much as it harms our potential for relationship. As someone who cares about connection, I think it is important to consider the how. What are we willing to give up to try and connect? Is it worth it to throw someone under the bus to try and get to know someone else? Are we being the kind of people we want to? Are we acting from a place of compassion and kindness or a place of anger and fear? I am all for connection, but not at any cost.

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