Embracing “Fluidity” and Feeling Connection

I’m not sure others share in this experience, but there are many times I have interactions with people and cannot help but observe them—the way they talk, listen and present their ideas. These intriguing people are who I can only best describe as having a sense of “fluidity” in the way they are. Some characteristics of people with this “fluidity” are open, attentive, curious, shameless, spontaneous, and non-judgmental, to name a few that come to mind. I observe these individuals from the perspective of a student, yearning to adapt this more fluid way of being in my everyday interactions.

All of us, myself included, can be guilty of having our minds drift during conversation with a colleague, worry about a friendship or family matter in the middle of an experience that should be wonderful, truly not listening to someone who is close to you because we are distracted, ashamed to voice a more raw version of an opinion because we feel humiliated in its potential inappropriateness…

These sort of actions are indicative of not living our life with fluidity, something that seems to come so naturally for some and not for others. I have learned overtime that much of this hindrance comes from insecurity and shame.

Insecurity and shame are the feelings that have us retract from our real and natural self to adapt to environments and social circles in fear of turning others off or not fitting in. On the other hand, people who present themselves in this fluid way appear, conversely, to be secure and shameless, free of worry or care for the thoughts and opinions of others. As a result, they often seem to experience connection more easily. Now, whether or not that is true of them, I am not sure, but the more I am exposed to people I at least perceive to be this way, the more I am inspired to work on letting go of my shame and insecurities to live a more fluid life, regardless.

The one thing that does give me hope that the fluidity in these individuals is genuine, is the look in their eyes. I don’t know exactly how to explain it but the look in their eye is that of a portal, as if I can see right through their pupil with no wall blocking our connection. All of us are guilty of unconsciously stunting connection at times with small actions such as holding back texts you want to send, letting the mind adrift during conversation or responding with what your audience wants to hear rather than your own opinion in an effort to feel more accepted. Ironically, acting in this less-fluid manner has us feel less connected, more insecure, more self-conscious, and in turn… Still not feeling accepted.

I encourage us all to embrace the actions of the “fluid” by truly listening to one another, be genuinely curious of one another, act on intuition, say what you want to say when you want to say it, don’t hold back opinions and be more courageous to disagree (one I personally must work on the most). We are only forced to be ourselves this way and we have no choice but to prompt more connection.

Practicing Detachment

Recently I began to better understand what Buddhists and philosophers, such as Alan Watts, have explained as detachment. The meaning of detachment is not being attached to a particular feeling or pleasure (Also my interpretive definition). Conversely, we are encouraged to accept our feelings and let them pass, without having to question or reason them. We are not attached. They are not us. They are simply a feeling in the present time and only in the present time. Thus, it will also soon pass.

As advocates of this practice suggest, being attached to a positive feeling or an indulgent pleasure, for example, can only lead to disappointment due to our desire to infinitely feel this elation. Think about how often our feelings change in just a day’s time. We are constantly experiencing the fluctuation, yet rather than accepting this as normal, we beat ourselves up over not maintaining ecstasy.

I would have to argue that life would be much easier if we could recognize, accept and let go of the need to feel good all of the time. I mean, it would put so much less pressure on ourselves if we can understand that feelings are not infinite, they are contrarily meant to last for only a short period of time.

If we can detach ourselves from this unrealistic expectation we set for feelings we can often not control, we can have peace, be free from worry and even better, free from thought. Perhaps some might argue this is “setting low expectations” for our lives, and maybe it does sound that way. But rather it is about not having expectation AT ALL. Being free from expectation, not to have them low or high, just to not have it at all.

Expectation is a product of perception, something we anticipate, try to predict and try to fabricate as a result of this attachment to a desire to feel satisfied. Let me ask you a few questions….

How many times did something or someone not meet your expectations? I’ll take a guess and say….

Hundred, thousands of times.

How many times DID something or someone meet your expectations? I would assume…

Far less often.

Were you more satisfied in the achievement of reaching an expectation or more disappointed by not meeting an expectation? I’ll take one last guess and say…

It felt much worse experiencing that disappointment than it felt good to meet expectation because of how much more intensely it is in our nature to remember a negative emotion greater than the positive.

With all of this being said…

What was the culprit of this feeling you so greatly tried to avoid all along?

Expectation and our attachment to the desire for it to be fulfilled.

Conclusion to this thought is, once again easier said than done, the practice of detaching from our feelings and pleasures allows us to just experience and move forward without judgment, thought or question.

Feel > Think

I recently heard an Abraham Hicks talk about relationships and connection. Hicks spoke about the relationship between physical distance and emotional distance, arguing there is no correlation. I suppose this can be illustrated by that friend you may not speak to everyday or see even every month, but we you are back together, it is like there had never been time apart.

However, in a romantic relationship, she mentions we sometimes have differing expectations to see our partner more, talk to them more, etc. in an attempt to sustain connectedness. It is understandable to feel some sort of disconnect or distance when there are lags in the time spent together, but she discusses the relation between energies and human connectedness to disprove such dire need.

She argues that the energies we have harbored from the initial spark in connection have been due to our own independent energy, which had attracted the energy of the other from the get-go. As a result, a common connectedness is formed. We have felt this connection inherently because it is our connection with ourselves, essentially, which allowed us to feel the connection to another person with a similar connection within themselves.

Her point being that as long as both partners are sustaining their own energies within themselves, they can only sustain a connection with one another regardless of distance and time apart. Ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low, right?

I thought this was such an interesting concept to think about. I believe this goes back to condition and how many times we wish to gauge the connection in our relationships by what we do for one another, what he or she bought the other, the hours spend together, when in reality, connectedness is within ourselves. Though these are important component to relationships, they are conditions of one person influencing another. Rather, Hicks is arguing that we must more importantly have that influence over ourselves and maintain our inner connection in order to feel the connection of another.

As a tip to people who are looking to feel more connected and loved by their friends, family and partners, Hicks encourages us to FEEL rather than THINK. What that means to me is, visualize your love for your partner, for example, feel that warmth, feel that jump in your heart, feel their touch. That is the love of your partner, and that is connection you manifested. If we could all channel this sort of intimacy in our relationships, how could we ever feel disconnected? It would be difficult to.

STILL! This practice alone is definitely a discipline and is not easy with all of the chaos that goes on in our daily lives, but it is our job to recognize that feeling of disconnect, regroup with ourselves, do not think question or worry about this feeling, but rather, accept it and begin the practice of feeling and channeling the energy and love being emitted from your partner, whether you are with them or not.

I almost picture it like a phone trying to get a signal when turned off. It’s not going to happen. If we cannot have a solid charge and connection with ourselves first, we cannot expect to be capable of sending out our receptors to find a connection with another. We must first GIVE power, strength and love to another in order to feel and ACCEPT power strength and love from another.

The Correlation Between Creativity and Vulnerability

It was interesting to watch an interview with Donald Glover (also known as Childish Gambino), who seems to be trending heavily right now, Issa Rae and other writers who were speaking about creativity and how they have cultivated their creative expression. What I found to be the most intriguing had been all of their mention of the correlation between creativity and vulnerability!

Much of the conversation revolved around the writing of their shows and movies, and how improvisational acting was completely different. They spoke about how improv acting is completely raw so it requires a NEED to be vulnerable or you will fail.

When you think about what improv is, it makes sense. Improvisational acting is unscripted, and instead, actors work off of the unanticipated dialogue between other actors and their energies. As Glover expressed, to be creative and succeed in improv, you need to be vulnerable and not think about how you look, how you should, act or what you should say. Rather, you need to get into a space where the mind is free to accept and work off of the energies of those performing with you.

He speaks of the writing he does for Atlanta, where he encourages many of his actors to perform improvisational scenes. He claims he provides two scenarios for the actors to work off of, and come time for the scene he encourages them to spontaneously choose to take the scene in one direction or another to create an unexpected need for improvising with the other participating actors.

As a result, Glover believes this vulnerability, this freedom to be expressive forced by the unanticipated conditions of a situation and the accepting of one another’s’ energies, creates for a more real and interesting portrayal of a scene. Issa Rae had then expressed she does something similar in her show, Insecure, which I happen to be a watcher of, so it makes a lot of sense when I found out that improv is also a critical component in her narrative. Much of the conversations, expressions and situations in the show seem so free-flowing and real-life, and it is because oftentimes they are.

Understanding the correlation between creativity and vulnerability sent me into one of those rabbit-hole thoughts, I so often mentioned. I thought about how such a high percentage of us with creative talent, and I do believe everyone has some sort of creativity within them, end up never expressing our talent because we refuse to be vulnerable. School teaches us to be invulnerable, to acquire a degree, leading us in a direction of obtaining a stable job and following all of the rules to lead a “secure” life.

Essentially, this conditioning is killing creativity everywhere. We doubt our talents and our capabilities. We not only want a parachute when we jump out of the plane, but we also need it to land exactly 100 yards away from our house or we don’t want to do it at all. As a result of this conditioning, we hide our vulnerabilities and, in turn, our creativity, some of which will be hidden away forever for no one to see… EVER.

If you are willing to be vulnerable, perhaps you will be able to discover a creativity you never believed to be there or perhaps it will give you the courage to express the creativity you always knew you had. I don’t think its matter of who is and who is not creative, it who is willing to be vulnerable enough to express new ideas and show themselves to others who will probably judge them. Many of us, myself included, rather not most of the time. But, let’s break though this conditioning and get creative! Woo!

Feel Like a Kid Again!

I never really noticed how little time I have spent around kids in recent years. Now that I have been spending more and more time around children, it might sounds strange, but I have learned so much. I see the way children express themselves and I am envious of their innate ability to be so present, free from thought and shamelessly expressive.

I see the way children tell their parents “I love you,” their grandma, “I miss you,” how they dance like no one is watching, express excitement that you can FEEL beaming from their eyes. It’s so beautiful, unplanned and unrehearsed. It is merely their instinctual emotion.

This is what it would be like if we were all able to be present, thought-less and shameless. Our thoughts and conditioning can hold us back from so much, it hinders the ability to express these instinctual emotions. As adults we rather torture ourselves and question our emotions, rather than act on them. We question whether we look ok, whether we said that right or what we should say next.

A child just does. That’s it. They are not yet consumed by the stress and conditioning the world brings them up in. They just are. Again, beautiful.

With this, how can we not trust a child? When a child tells us they love us or misses us, we have to take their word. They are not thinking about their expression being the “right thing to say,” “what they should say,” and they definitely had not been thinking, “Yeah, next I should tell them I miss and love them.” No! A child is present and acts in the present. They enjoy moments, which adults often take for granted because of the conditioning adults have experienced throughout their lives.

Children cannot help but be vulnerable but they do not see it as vulnerability. They see it rather as play, joy, fun. So, I encourage all of us to learn a thing or two from these children and act as they do. Embrace these moments free from thought, worry and shame and we can feel like a kid again.

The Expression of Joy

I have done a lot of thinking about “expressing joy.” In Brene Brown’s Power of Vulnerability (which I feel I need to give a second listen to), she speaks of expressing JOY and the fulfillment of happiness this brings. She speaks of a story of a man who lives his entire life like everything is just ok, not really getting overly excited or enthused about much. Then one day his wife of 25 years passes away, and he is regretful of never truly expressing the joy he had all of these years of life with her. From the day on, this man vowed to actively express joy every single day. I may have paraphrased that story a bit, but the lesson is conclusive:

Actively express joy for everything in life, big or small.

It is easier said than done mostly because life is so distracting and sometimes we do not truly see a moment as an opportunity for joy, rather, we may just see it as just another ordinary moment.

If you are anything like me, vacations or promotions were always things I was appreciative and grateful for but did not necessarily induce excitement. Perhaps it is due to a modest upbringing or not wanting to come off as arrogant or haughty, but the converse of not expressing joy, is just as poor… We SHOULD be excited and be joyous for these small pleasures in life.

This thoughts has then led to my attempt in better defining “joy,” and also finding a way to intentionally express it every single day.

First, my definition of “joy” is essentially gratitude + excitement.

Gratitude is the expression of things in life that we are appreciative and thankful for but does not necessarily induce that explosive expression of how I (at least) visualize “joy.” The visual that comes to mind when I think of joy is then sun shining, beaming on my back as I skip through a field of daisies, wearing a great big grin. That is the visual I need to live up to in my mind.

So, in order to have that visual come closer to life, the second piece of this definition is then excitement! This is an action we prompt have to prompt for ourselves. We can choose to be excited about those moments in life we are grateful for. Ever hear the old saying, “Act enthusiastic and you’ll be enthusiastic”? It might be a motto you may hear at a Dale Carnegie Public Speaking workshop, but nonetheless, whether in public speaking, business or in life, we act the way we want to feel, more simply. I believe this intentional expression of excitement paired with this appreciation for moments big and small, helps us to feel JOY.

As a matter of practice, every day I do express gratitude but to further express joy, this morning I ask myself a simple question:

What am I excited for today?

Now, for the record, today is an ordinary working money, I do not have anything particularly unique going on, yet still I found moments to be excited about.

  • Excited to go to work.
  • Excited to finish my tasks for my project.
  • Excited to talk to partner about his day later.
  • Excited to go to the gym.
  • Excited to have dinner with my family.
  • Excited to read my book.
  • Excited to have my bean soup for lunch.

It sounds silly but we deserve to be joyous about all facets of life. Otherwise, why bother waking up, right?

Answer this question for yourself today and feel your mood change. I promise. That is joy.

“What is Love? Baby Don’t Hurt Me…”

Ahh, the classic question posed by a 90s one-hit-wonder, along with the rest of humanity.

Throughout our lives, many of us are both hexed and fortunate to experience love. Recently, for myself I have been experiencing love for the first time and it truly is unlike any other emotion. It is ambiguous, cannot be understood nor described.

If you’re anything like me, you might have previously thought, “I’m so fine with being the cool single aunt the rest of my life,” set on doing everything on your own, not feeling like you need anyone because of your independence. Well, let me tell you, if you come to find someone who challenges all of those inclinations, please give it a shot. It is easy to stay in your comfortable world where you only have to worry about you and there is no need to ever be vulnerable. Plus, the word “vulnerable” alone probably makes you sick. So, rather just avoid it, right? I get it.

However, at the same time (I have learned and am still learning) vulnerability is both critical to wholly love and it is beautiful. To be further sickened by the thought, listen to Brene Brown’s –Power of Vulnerability or read her book, Daring Greatly—(Listed in ‘Books’). Both of these journals have opened my eyes to the importance of vulnerability and also made me realize how much I unknowingly avoid it. The way Brene Brown describes, “Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.”

How beautiful is that? To share your thoughts and emotions with someone and allow them to accept them without judgement. Talk about being naked! Sheesh. Meanwhile, all this time I thought my biggest fear was physically being naked?! I don’t know. It sounds like no contest compared to the deep expression of vulnerability.

Honestly, love has no definition because everyone is different, every relationship is different, which is why so many of us go on 100+ dates in our lives to find no one who clicks. Yet, that same guy who showed up 20 minutes late in ripped jeans and a baseball hat on your first date found the love of his life a week later!

We are not all compatible, so we cannot expect love to be an apples to apples experience for everyone. It is unrealistic. All we can strive to do is embrace love, let love in, love love but most importantly love yourself. And, to quote Brene Brown one more time, tell yourself, “I am enough.”

So, what is love? Well… You’ll have to find out for yourself.