In the first article of this series, Becoming an Agent of Hope, I posed the question: What if the most courageous and impactful thing you could do during these difficult times is to:
- Cultivate a daily practice of aligning with your humanity
- Embody a deeper level of resilience and avoid burnout
- And maintain and deepen authentic relationships?
The first four internal powers focused on the initial part of this call to action, preparing us for perhaps the most crucial of the powers within: #5 How and With Whom You Engage
After two years of a global pandemic and the need for social distancing, this couldn’t be more urgent. Even before the Covid pandemic, our culture was moving further away from engaging with one another in public spaces. With an increase in interacting with the world through our devices, we find ourselves more isolated and depleted. Because of this, we are losing our capacity to engage in the exquisite messiness of human interaction, intimacy, and collaboration. We lose out on developing the subtle skills of reading social cues, staying regulated when challenges arise with others, and finding empathy.
The pandemic has uprooted how we do holidays, parties, education, work, and intimacy. While online platforms provide some level of comfort and a solution to how to keep things functioning, this two-dimensional medium can only offer so much emotional satisfaction and the fulfillment of our core biological and emotional human need for connection. As the quality of our connection with others decreases, our anxiety and sense of safety increases, causing depression, isolation, and hopelessness.
Therefore, as an Agent of Hope moving through the uncertainty and anxiety of 2022, it is essential to devote extra time and energy to deepen your relationships (even through your devices) and take extra care of one another. With a renewed sense of vitality, resilience, and personal agency, your capacity increases to impact others in a beneficial way, helping others find their way back to their power and to their story of hope.
I am asked frequently, “Why are people feeling more tired and disconnected when doing work online rather than in person?” This has to do with a false belief that we are truly connecting during these meetings. We forget that just having meetings doesn’t mean that you are deepening relationship. It takes extra work to authentically connect with someone through a device or flat screen. Unlike in-person interactions where there is a give and take, online communication is a lot of giving and not a lot of receiving.
Deepening and maintaining relationships doesn’t have to be time consuming or draining. Sometimes the simplest things can go a long way. Here are some tips that don’t require much time and energy, but the impact can go a long way to enhance the quality of your connections:
- When someone pops into your head, send them a text. Maybe even just a heart emoji. That one small action could remind them they are not alone and might pull them out of severe depression.
- If you haven’t heard from someone in a while, reach out and set up a time to connect.
- Have the courage to ask for help when you need it
- Take off your earbuds and don’t look at your device when in public spaces. Look, listen, connect.
- Turn on your camera and don’t do other work when in online meetings.
- Take 5 minutes at the start of an online meeting to have everyone give an update on how they are doing. Establish some agreed upon non-verbal gestures and cues as a way to replicate the natural give and take of human interaction.
- Seek out people who share similar values and invest in those relationships
- Be discerning with whom you engage. Set boundaries with others who have differing political or social views. You can set the terms of challenging discussions. These conversations can be done with respect, compassion, and curiosity.
- If people you know are struggling, share with them these “Agents of Hope Internal Powers”
Empowering oneself is an effective way to navigate the challenges of our time; imagine how much stronger our impact of hope can be when, by intentionally connecting with others, we break through the structures that keep us separate and feeling powerless. While one individual may not at this time have the leverage to effect change, creating alliances with empowered, “renewed” people who share common values makes it easier to take back our story and overcome the power dynamics of volatility and opposition.
Every Tuesday, I gather with an international community of heart-centered practitioners for the Reviving the Global Heart online practice. Come and join if you are looking for ways to rest, restore, and cultivate resilience and fierce compassion with a community of people who share a common vision for lasting peace.
And here’s to a fiercely hopeful, easeful, peaceful 2022!