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Creating Authentic Connection

By June 3, 2020 June 4th, 2020 No Comments
Authentic Connection

What Is Authentic Connection?

Have you ever been on an airplane and found yourself telling your whole life story to a stranger, amazed by the connection you’ve made? 

Or have you ever been in a recovery meeting, and, in just a short few minutes with people you’ve just met, you realize, wow, these people know me better than my friends and family? 

Or have you ever been listening to music and start to really hear the lyrics, and all of a sudden you just have this energetic surge because you realize these lyrics are speaking to you? 

Have you wondered what this universal phenomenon is?  

Have you ever been on an airplane and found yourself telling your whole life story to a stranger, amazed by the connection you’ve made? 

Or have you ever been in a recovery meeting, and, in just a short few minutes with people you’ve just met, you realize, wow, these people know me better than my friends and family? 

Or have you ever been listening to music and start to really hear the lyrics, and all of a sudden you just have this energetic surge because you realize these lyrics are speaking to you? 

Have you wondered what this universal phenomenon is?  

This is authentic connection. While it might include an exchange of ideas, it is always heart-centered. It’s a feeling of understanding and kindness, or even love. It’s a beautiful, magnetic feeling that happens very naturally as if you’re being pulled towards someone or something. When it happens, you feel a part of something greater. 

Authentic connection is heart-centered

Why Does Connection Matter?

Understanding the role of connection in the addiction/recovery journey is key, whether you are:

  • a woman in recovery from alcohol use disorder,
  • a woman with significant active addiction,
  • a woman realizing you have an increasingly unhealthy relationship to alcohol, or
  • a family member or friend who is searching for how to support.

Addiction is total disconnection, and recovery is total connection. Without connection, we’re really limiting, confining, and constricting our sobriety experience, and ultimately we’re more likely to relapse and return to previous behavior that doesn’t serve us.

Isolation is Soul-Crushing

Addiction disconnects us from our bodies, minds, and spirits. It robs us of belonging to anything, including ourselves, our families, our communities, and the world at large. Addiction really dismantles a person’s life. And because we felt disconnected when we drank, one of the most common things that we did was isolate.

“Isolation is devastating to the human psyche.”

― Gary Chapman

Isolation is devastating to the human psyche.

― Gary Chapman

The behavior of isolating and hiding is nearly universal in alcohol  use disorder. We don’t want to be seen. We don’t want to be heard. We don’t want to be around people. Isolation is devastating to the human psyche. Social connection is a basic tenet of being human. So when we’re deprived of it, we truly suffer a loss of our humanity. And staying in isolation creates an environment for the mind to take over in ways that aggravate the situation. Tommy Rosen, an extraordinary recovery coach and author of Recovery 2.0, highlights the four aggravations of addiction as the following: 

  1. negative thinking
  2. self-doubt 
  3. procrastination
  4. resentment
Authentic connection isolation

Authentic Connection Is the Antidote

Authentic connection is the antidote for those four aggravations, assisting us in clearing old patterns of thought that do not serve us. We can shift from negative to positive thinking and from thoughts such as “I’m not worthy” or “I’m weak” to “I am lovable, I am strong, I am resilient.” We can move from “I’m stuck” to “I’m excited to proceed!” Self-doubt can transform into self-confidence. Even resentment can shift to forgiveness. The words of “I blame” change to “I forgive.” I forgive is such an extraordinary, beautiful statement. 

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet
sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”

― Mark Twain

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet
sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”

― Mark Twain

We need connection to ourselves and others to stabilize our early recovery, grow, and ultimately heal to transformational recovery. Compassionate connection with others helps dissolve the illusion that we are worthless. Connection is the remedy for isolation as we reassemble our lives.

Authentic connection is a remedy

One of the most helpful things to do in recovery, as soon as possible, is to reengage with people. And that is why Expand Your Communication Channels is my fourth strategy in my Stay-at-Home Sober Guide.

How to Form Authentic Connections with Others

Recovery Groups

The first place to start with connection, of course, is the recovery community. Because we are encouraged to show up authentically owning our truth, this deep level of true belonging and connection can happen seamlessly in the recovery community. In a matter of days, it’s incredible how tight you can be with people you’ve never met with before. It’s really true belonging. I love this quote by Sean Stevenson: “Communication is an exchange of information, but connection is an exchange of humanity.” 

There is no better place on the planet to have this exchange of humanity than in a recovery meeting. I have had an incredible life of personal connections from the day I was born through my 58 years, and I can tell you the deepest level of true humanity that I have witnessed routinely has been in the rooms of recovery meetings and with the recovery community. 

I invite you to make this a priority. There are several recovery groups. All of these programs have meetings that can be found online, because we just all went through the shelter-in-place. I value all them: 

  1. Alcoholics Anonymous is the first structured recovery program to offer a strategy to get sober. AA encompasses meetings and the 12-step program, and it offers sponsors. 
  2. Other 12-step programs such as Al-Anon. Everybody can learn something from Al-Anon, because we all have had some dysfunction in our families in the past. To heal that, Al-Anon is the place to be. 
  3. Refuge Recovery is a Buddhist perspective of the 12 steps. It’s a great place to search for meaning. 
  4. Smart Recovery is an amazing cognitive-based program. 
  5. Recovery 2.0, Tommy Rosen’s recovery community. His extraordinary work is based in yoga (philosophy and physical practice) and beyond. I highly recommend this latest recovery program, which now offers meetings.

Initially this can be difficult or intimidating, because it might mean that you’re meeting people that you’ve never met before. But the coolest thing is that all of these communities are hard-wired to love you if you can’t love yourself. That is their primary mission.


The coolest thing is that all of these communities
are hard-wired to love you if you can’t love yourself.
That is their primary mission.

The coolest thing is that all of these communities
are hard-wired to love you if you can’t love yourself.
That is their primary mission.

A Sponsor

Get a sponsor, especially if you’re relapsing. If you’re relapsing, that’s your consciousness basically saying, “You know what, self? You need additional help.” So reach out, get a sponsor, and think about other support such as, counselors, coaches, and more recovery meetings.

Family and Friends

Allow your friends and family to help you, even if you’re used to isolating. They love you and likely would be there for you the moment you ask. Chances are they have been waiting for you to turn a corner and open up to them in authentic vulnerability and connection.

Online Communities

It’s incredible what social media has become for the recovery and sober groups out there. They’re there for mothers, professional women, and women from all walks of life (of course they’re there for men too!). So join a few and get a sense of the culture. And if you don’t care for one in particular, no worries. Just find another. Engage with the other members. When you help another, you help yourself. Somebody will write something, and you’ll respond, and then they’ll respond, and you can see you’ve helped them. I don’t care if you’re two days sober, you can help someone, and then that helps you.

Technology

Get a Zoom account if you don’t already have one. They offer a great basic plan that is free. Use it to reach out to your high school friends, college friends, old neighbors, old friends from previous jobs, etc. You can even have group get-togethers on Zoom.

Email friends you haven’t seen in a long time, and let them know about your recovery. Be straightforward and honest: “Hey, you know, I had an issue with alcohol. I eventually realized that I had alcohol use disorder. I had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, and the hardest thing I’ve ever done was to put down that drink. And now, with courage, I’m reaching out to people because I feel like since you’re my friend, you might want to know that I’m going through this.” Oh my gosh. When I spoke about this in a recent Facebook Live video, I literally got the chills because I felt the love that is going to bestow you! Truly, please give this a try.

Go Out and Meet in Person

As things open up in our communities, reach out, meet for tea, coffee, or lunch, or get together at a park and walk in nature. Get a dog like my husband and I did! Instant friends! Instant gifts! It’s incredible. I was humored by how many people were knocking on our door,  giving us gifts, and welcoming the new member of the community. I’m not sure if I had a baby, I would have received so many gifts! 

Volunteer

As you feel more comfortable engaging in society (with the pandemic now hopefully calming down) consider service. When you help another group, for example, or an individual who doesn’t have the means that you do, that is service. This is a cornerstone of many spiritual traditions, and in recovery it’s no different.

Authentic connection is helping yourself

Use Discernment

“Connecting with others gives us a sense of inclusion,
connection, interaction, safety, and community. Your vibe
attracts your tribe, so if you want to attract positive and
healthy relationships, be one! 
Staying connected and getting
reconnected feeds the flow of goodness which empowers our humanity.” 

―Susan C. Young

“Connecting with others gives us a sense of inclusion, connection, interaction, safety, and community. Your vibe attracts your tribe, so if you want to attract positive and healthy relationships, be one! Staying connected and getting reconnected feeds the flow of goodness which empowers our humanity.” 
―Susan C. Young

Keep in mind, we are susceptible to the energies of people, so choose your friends wisely. You are the sum total of the people you choose to hang out with. Cultivating authentic connection might mean you need to stop seeing friends that you used to hang out with. Some of those friends might have alcohol use disorder or other dysfunctional habits that aren’t going to serve you in recovery. Your recovery comes first. So if something is triggering you, making you uncomfortable, making you consider returning to a life you know was destroying you, then that’s not for you. It sounds simple, but it might not be easy. Think of it as pruning the garden of your life—this is a way to cultivate beauty and vitality.

How to Connect with Your Authentic Self

Breath

A wonderful place to start connecting with your authentic self is with your breath. Connecting with your breath settles your mind into yourself in the present moment. Chances are you will  something stir in your heart as you breathe in joy and energy, and exhale whatever does not serve you. Slowing down and breathing in and breathing out with awareness—that is authentic connection. If you can lengthen the exhalation, even better.

Growth

Meditation

Another way to reconnect with your authentic self is meditation. This can be very simple really. You sit quietly, hold self-love, and try to void your mind. Give your mind a break. Our brains are wired to think, so do not worry when thoughts arise. Just don’t hold on to the thoughts. When they arise, note that you can tend to them later, and, with love, gently usher those thoughts out and return to a quiet stillness. You can imagine placing them on a river, flowing away from you. You can start with baby steps. Two minutes. Over time you can increase it, but for now, even two minutes will feel like a breath of fresh air.

Yoga

Yoga means union—union of the mind, body, and spirit. Yoga is a complex system beyond just the yoga poses most Westerners associate with the word. It has many meanings and is widely misunderstood. The yoga I’m discussing here is hatha, meaning the physical poses (called asanas) you would see in a typical yoga center. Hatha yoga is really a moving meditation accompanied by mindful breathing. If you don’t have yoga as part of your daily routine, try to get to a class, either in-person or online. 

Movement

I don’t even want to say the word exercise, because it tends to imply sweating and developing muscle tone, and even slogans such as “no pain, no gain.” What I recommend instead is movement that best suits your body in order to help facilitate energetic flow. When that happens, it helps you connect with yourself more easily, because you’re aligning with your physical body, which needs movement for it to optimally function.

Journaling and Reading

Set time aside daily to write your thoughts on paper. It involves the senses, it helps to release and ponder things, and can help you express gratitude. This can be especially insightful when you record your dreams, because sometimes when you translate pieces of dreams into actual words, you might see clear messages and even wordplays that were meant to guide you or bring resolution or understanding to a situation in your lift. Writing your feelings will also help you express yourself honestly, something you might need to reprogram after the years of lying and deceit so common with addiction.

Additionally, reading loving, supportive material can be a sacred time of personal reconnection. The key is to find whatever inspires you. You can search online, go to a bookstore, or go to a library and explore to your heart’s content!

Nature

Even though we tend to forget, we are nature: we are both spiritual beings and animals who literally belong to the animal kingdom. We are biologically and spiritually wired to connect with nature. Visual exposure to natural environments has been scientifically shown to improve mood. What’s more, a 2014 scientific study demonstrated that exposure to natural environments results in decreased impulsive decision-making related to unhealthy behaviors. But more than just a safeguard (which is a tremendous asset in its own right), immersion in nature has the power to elevate your spirit and foster powerful awakenings within you.

Trust the Process

As you begin to explore, don’t worry about getting it right. The universe has a way of embracing our heartfelt intentions and manifesting them in our lives. Because of this, you might find it far easier to connect with others and yourself. In fact, you might start to notice beautiful synchronicities and sense that “What you seek is seeking you,” as the great Sufi poet Rumi said. 

Authentic connection Remi quote

At 58, I’m still on my journey, and it’s a beautiful process unfolding moment to moment. I invite you to join me on this transformational journey of recovering our authentic connections to ourselves and others.

Stay strong, Humble Warrior Women. Until next week, Namaste!

References 

Tommy Rosen. RECOVERY 2.0: Move Beyond Addiction and Upgrade Your Life. Hay House Inc., October 2014.

Meredith S. Berry et al. “The Nature of Impulsivity: Visual Exposure to Natural Environments Decreases Impulsive Decision-Making in a Delay Discounting Task,” PLOS ONE (May 19, 2014). https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0097915