The quote by Mother Theresa could very well be my favorite quote of all time. It captures my philosophy of what I consider to be my life work: helping individuals to connect to their true self more deeply, experience genuine connection with close others, and also come to know the divine in a true, intimate way. I see it as my work to not only help others connect in a sweet, meaningful way, but also to continue to do that work of digging deeper in my own life. It’s hard to help others go somewhere you have yet to travel.
If I were to think of this systematic connection in a picture, I see it as a stone dropping in the middle of the pond. The first ripple out once that stone hits the water is the connection you have to yourself. The type of connection you have to yourself will ripple out, effecting the type of connection you have to others. If you know how to mindfully connect to your thoughts and emotions, live life with emotionally intelligence and a sense of awareness of your true self, that will help you connect more fully with others. I see that second ripple of connection to others as the connection you have to your family, or the people who you live with most closely. After we spend time working on the connection to ourselves, it’s necessary to focus on our family. How we react to our life partner, any unfinished business in our family of origin, the way we go about our parenting, is all the work of this second level. It’s crucial, because we can’t move on to impact our greater communities (well we can, but not as effectively) if we have unfinished business at the first or second level of the ripple. But we can’t get stuck at either of those ripples. Getting stuck at the first would be leading a life of self-absorption, the second would be focusing too much on our family, so we need to allow the ripple to continue out so we can positively impact the society in which we live. We need to allow our love to overflow.
One trend I often see is skipping the first ripple. People want to jump into working on their relationships, or even are extremely active in community service and outreach, but there remains a lack of connection in the first stage: their relationship to themselves. I see this stage as a double-dip…when you connect to your truest self, that’s precisely when you connect to God. Your true self and God rest in the same place inside you. They go together. So, if you find your true self, you find God. Your deepest passions that come from the good, true place inside you are not in opposition to those of God’s. We just need to train ourselves to connect to that true place, because life has taught us to set up unhelpful defenses and ways of being.
Next week I will introduce how you can start to slow down and begin connecting to the first ripple, the connection to yourself.