When I slouch in the front door after an exhausting and unfulfilling day, the first thing I want is a spine-cracking hug from my partner.
Why not just eat a doughnut? Or drink a six-pack of beer? Or watch videos of people being kicked in the nuts?
Because nothing beats an earnest connection to another human being. We all seek it, crave it, adore it. We are, in fact, neurologically hardwired for connection. And yet we spend more and more of our days isolating ourselves with compulsive, addictive behavior — tv, games, junk food — all to “numb out” and avoid the loneliness.
But we never fully escape.
Instead, we get lost in the “mindlessness”. We are afraid of rejection and failure; we are afraid that we are powerless and worthless. And so, we choose heads-in-the-sand rather than opening our hearts — i.e. making ourselves vulnerable — to the raw-yet-beautiful facets of another person.
And yet… that raw, uncomfortable connection between two imperfect human beings is the one true thing that nurtures and feeds our hearts.
We all have the power to connect to another human being. To drop our defenses and see how desperately everyone else also wants to be able to drop theirs.
Today, I ask you to just open your heart to one other person that you normally avoid. Connect through a hug, a smile, or a conversation deeper than “Hi/How’re you?/Fine, and you?/Fine.”
Allow someone to open their heart to you. That single connection will make the world a little bit warmer, a little bit brighter.
Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.
– Pema Chödrön
* As an aside, this TED Talk video by Brene Brown is absolutely worth 20 minutes of your time if you are hesitant about making yourself open and vulnerable to another person.