This article by Madilyn Smith originally appeared on Mindvalley
What does true connection look like today?
We seem to be in nearly constant communication with texts, comments, and emails buzzing going in and out of our lives at all hours of the day. Yet, despite our world being more interconnected than ever, rates of loneliness and depression only seem to be getting higher and higher.
Disconnection In The Age Of Hyper-Connection
A survey done by BBC Radio and Wellcome Collection reported that out of 55,000 participants, 33% of people overall felt lonely often or very often. And the rise of social media has only taken these numbers to new heights.
A study published by the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found that those who decreased their use of social media had an overall increase in their well-being while those who used social networks regularly reported higher rates of loneliness and depression.
But how can that be possible? With all of these opportunities to reach out and connect, why are so many of us feeling alone?
The Masks We Wear
Mindvalley’s co-founder, Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani says that this widespread feeling of isolation often comes from us losing ourselves in all of our “masks.”
Just to clarify, wearing a mask doesn’t mean being purposefully inauthentic or disingenuous. It’s all about all of the roles we play in different areas of our lives.
We act in a certain way with our parents, our partners, our children, our coworkers, and complete strangers. We are constantly molding our words, behaviors, and ourselves to fit into any environment or situation we find ourselves in at the time.
While this is inherently neither good nor bad… At times we try to play the part of an employee, parent, or friend so perfectly that we sometimes lose touch with who we really are.
This is one reason why it’s so painful when we lose a job, a relationship, or the kids move out of the house. Beyond the loss itself, we’re often hurt because our entire identity is wrapped up in being a “good” parent, worker, partner, etc. Then when that title is stripped away, it may feel as though we’ve lost ourselves along with it.
But the ironic part is, the deeper connections we want to protect can only grow stronger when we let our masks fall away.
Vulnerability Is Power
The truth is, regardless of how professionally you play the roles in your life, who you are at your core runs so much deeper.
So many of us work ourselves to the bone in order to seem like we have it all together and we can seamlessly juggle all the roles we’ve been assigned. Because sometimes it’s scary to reveal to the people around us that we’re struggling, confused, or (God forbid) imperfect.
We worry about how any and everything we say or do might be perceived. The fear sets in that if we let go and show our vulnerabilities and a less than ideal version of ourselves to others then they could judge or flat-out reject us on the spot.
But the funny thing is when we hide our faults and weaknesses in order to be liked, then we actually block what we’re all really searching for… Deep, honest, and genuine connection.
Because there’s nothing more endearing and appealing than rawness, realness, and authenticity. Other people appreciate it when you let go and show the parts of yourself you’re not as proud of because you’re giving them space to do the same.
When we try to uphold an image of how we want others to see us, then we rob ourselves and them of knowing the real us. Whereas showing up in the world unapologetically in all of our quirks, insecurities, and imperfections is undeniably the greatest gift there is.
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