A thing that I encounter on a daily basis is what I like to call “Disconnected Connectedness”. I see youngsters and adults with their noses in their smartphone the whole time. Nowadays we seem constantly “connected” through Internet and social media.
How many times haven’t you seen a couple at a restaurant checking their phones instead of talking to each other??
One assignment that I take very seriously is the course Personal Development that I teach to 18-20 year olds at Thomas More University College. In the beginning the students wonder why they get such a course. By the end of the semester they are able to reflect personally on their lives and are able to identify talents, values, motivation, competences, etc. But most importantly they learn how to listen, how to communicate and how to remain open minded and curious towards others and their behaviours.
Many students were very grateful to have received this course and regretted they hadn’t had such a course earlier. Some found it very difficult to do self-reflection assignments, because the answers couldn’t be found on Google, like so many other subjects.
Others mentioned that they got to know their fellow students thanks to this course, because as shocked as I was in the beginning of coaching and teaching: many students or people don’t take the time to get to know their peers. They come to class/work, do their thing, connect on social media and that’s it. The most social beings still go out once in a while for a drink with friends.
I once had a student telling me that he didn’t know any of his classmates. So imagine this for a moment: second year bachelor degree students that are asked to form groups in order to work on a group assignment, and one person tells me how to form a group, as he doesn’t know any of his classmates. I stood there with my mouth open for 5 seconds and the replied: “Why don’t you start by talking to some classmates, present yourself, ask their names and ask around to see if everyone is already in a group. TALK, COMMUNICATE, DO something! Don’t just stand there waiting for me or God to solve your problem.”
This made me realise two things:
- we are often completely disconnected from ourself and from the world around us
- this disconnection causes a behaviour that makes a person NOT take his/her responsibility for his/her life.
Our “connected” society is creating even more zombie sheep that are so deep into their smartphone “social life” that they don’t know what real life is about anymore. And instead of trying to get out of that addicting system, it’s easier to ostracise everything and blame others / the world around us instead of taking our lives into our own hands. It’s easier saying “It’s not my fault, it’s because…” then to question oneself and change our own behaviour.
And yet, getting out of this “disconnected connectedness” is not difficult. I’ll illustrate this with my own example…
When I am a whole day behind my computer, in the car and having meetings or administration, my head feels heavy, I don’t digest well and I feel mentally tired or drained. When on automatic pilot, I am not immediately conscious of these symptoms so I’m systematically drawn to the couch to have a quick rest. It is then very tempting to grab my smartphone and start scrolling through the posts of others. – Which, if I may mention this in between brackets, causes a lot of depressed youngsters. Why? Because their friends only put positive things on Facebook and Instagram (such as a beautiful (fake or photoshopped) self-portrait, a new partner, an exclusive trip or vacation, a big smile with a fancy background). This gives an image as though all these people are constantly living the good life with nothing but luck and happy moments. In turn causing some people to think that their life is miserable compared to that of others. Which is just a wrong impression put out of context. –
If I give in to that temptation, my head becomes even heavier and I’ll have a disturbed night rest. But this can go on for days unnoticed. Many people are not aware of these daily symptoms until they get really exhausted and wonder why.
A second option – which is the one I try to do daily – is to be aware of the signs of my body and take care of myself. The moment I take some time to breathe deeply and listen to my body (body scan), I am connected to ME.
Then I go outside and water my plants and vegetables, have a moment with my horses, play a game with my kids, or just walk barefoot on the grass or watch the sunset. In these moments, I try not to think about anything but just BE there. BE ME. BE.
And then I start to see things and hear things, such as birds singing, an airplane flying over, a horse sighing, a cricket opening the evening concert, a breeze on my cheeks, the sound of laughter of my children, etc. At moments, I feel as if I’m connected to all living beings around me. I feel as though everything happens for a reason. I see vegetables growing and bugs doing what they are meant to do, and I can only think about how perfect nature is. Everything is in harmony, lives in harmony. Everything is connected! At that moment I can feel true connection.
Just like when I listen carefully to people.. Not to reply, but to understand. Then all of a sudden I get a hunch or an intuitive thought, a word to say to that person so that he/she can move on and grow. I am then connected. To myself, to the other person and to higher energies.
Because as it is said so beautifully in the Lion King 2: “We are more than we are, we are one.”
When we practice true connectedness, we live happier and healthier lives. We are tuned in to our body and we are connected to nature. This in turn connects us to our intuition and instincts, which helps us making better decisions. It lifts us up from modern society and brings us into higher perceptions. We see things from a different perspective and we feel calmer and more at peace. We don’t feel the need to go into discussion, or be aggressive or discriminate. We see everything fall into place and we see the (hidden) wisdom in mother nature, in religions, in our soul.
I’m not saying that we need to deny modern society. Social media and Internet can be a bliss: all the information is made available and social media are an easy channel to spread ideas, thoughts, share messages with the whole globe! But we need to find a balance. Sometimes we need to disconnect ourselves (from the digital world) to be able to re-connect (with ourself and our environment).