PTSD Therapist

How Connected Are You to Your Life?

It is no coincidence that I called this blog “Addiction Connection.” The word connection was intentional for its many connotations. And for me, the goal of writing is to share ideas, create conversations, and ultimately, write something that also connects you back to yourself and others in a way that you may not have before. I don’t subscribe to one particular meaning of connection, but I’ve heard some pretty good ones recently.

Dr. Russ Harris, a leader in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), says that

“‘Connection’ means being fully aware of your here-and-now experience, fully in touch with what is happening in this moment. In practicing connection, we pull ourselves out of the past or the future and bring ourselves back to the present – right here, right now.”

He goes on to describe several reasons for its importance. He says that if you’re only half-present, you’re missing out on what life has to offer. The more present you are, the more power you have to take effective action. The more effective action you take, the more you’re able to move your life in the desired direction. He goes on to say that,

“Connection happens through the observing self. It involves bringing our full attention to what is happening here and now without getting distracted or influenced by the thinking self. The observing self is by nature nonjudgmental. It can’t judge our experience, because judgments are thoughts and therefore a product of the thinking self. The observing self doesn’t get into a struggle with reality; it sees things as they are, without resisting. Resistance only happens when we fuse with our judgments that things are bad or wrong or unfair.”

What Dr. Russ Harris is referring to here is bringing some awareness to your thoughts. So often when we get too caught up with what’s going on in our heads, we lose sight of what’s going on right in front of us. I know I’ve been guilty of this. But our minds can be dangerous creatures that should not be left without supervision. There are times when we get so lost in thinking “shoot, why did I do that? What’s going to happen if __________?” We get lost in the “what ifs.” 

It becomes a problem when we begin losing presence and sacrificing the relationships in front of us. We sort out the 10 options for what may happen and waste so much time on potential circumstances even though only one thing will ever happen. In doing so, we lose our connection with life and what is happening with those around us.

Let your goal for this coming week be to regain your connection with life. Connect back with the things that matter to you. To truly do that, you have to begin appreciating what’s in front of you. Here are a few simple mindfulness exercises to do (courtesy of Dr. Russ Harris’ book, The Happiness Trap).

  1. Connect with your body. Notice where your legs and arms are and the position of your spine. Scan your body from head to toe. Close your eyes for 30 seconds and just novice your body.
  2. Connect with your breathing. Notice the rise and fall of your rib cage and the air moving in and out of your nostrils.
  3. Focus on the sounds you can hear. Notice the sounds coming from you (from your breath and your movements), the sounds coming from the room, and the sounds coming from outside the room.

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These types of exercises may seem foreign to you, but just give them a shot. Take 20 seconds and just go through those quick exercises. Are you breathing shallowly or deeply? What sounds are around you? What things around you? What are you connecting to?

If you feel like you’ve lost some connection, just begin reconnecting with yourself – your breath, your surroundings. Reach out to someone you know or someone new. See where that conversation takes you. Don’t worry about how the conversation will go, just worry about making that connection. One step at a time. This will lead you to what Dr. Brené Brown defines as connection.

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”

I’ll leave you with another one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Russ Harris on connection,

“Connection is about waking up, noticing what’s happening, engaging with the world, and appreciating the fullness of every moment of life.”

For more information on Connection, check out Dr. Russ Harris’, The Happiness Trap and Dr. Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection.

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