We have become really good at being really shallow.
We flit around connecting more electronically from behind screens than we do in person.
We don’t make eye contact. We don’t hold eye contact.
We don’t touch each other.
Handshakes are weak and flimsy.
We step back to keep our distance.
This is how we treat strangers but it’s also how we treat people close to us.
We are all craving connection.
We are wired for it from birth.
Just because you’ve been hurt or burned doesn’t mean you don’t.
Don’t kid yourself.
It just means you’ve become guarded and afraid.
But you’re not the only one.
Everyone has been hurt.
Can we stop walking around thinking that our wounds are unique?
Can we start having the courage to do our own personal work and fall deeply in love with ourselves so that we can fall deeply in love with others?
Let’s stop being the walking dead. Uninspired, passionless, afraid to connect, unable to love. It’s boring.
Shallow people are boring.
Random acquaintances, casual sex, guarded and afraid mentalities, meaningless conversations.
Boring. So boring it makes me restless and agitated. And it should for you too.
Your history of pain? Let it make you stronger. Let it build resilience.
Learn from it and realize that you made it through that.
Allow it to be in your history of victories. Allow it to bolster you up. If you survived that, what can’t you survive?
We are all hyper-connected and yet suffering from a lack of connection.
Because we’re too lazy or afraid to be vulnerable and honest in creating depth.
So we’re missing out on the best of one another and huge essential need and reason for existence.
Here are three ways to start creating depth in your relationships …
1. Use your senses.
Start by being intentional.
Make a decision that this is going to be a higher priority in your life.
Notice where you’ve allowed your relationships to become shallow.
How many hours you’ve spent talking about nothing.
Or how you pick up your phone habitually to check for updates even when your friends are sitting right across from you (picking up their phones in to mirror you).
When was the last time you made eye contact…with a stranger, but more importantly with the people closest to you?
Grab this sense first – start forcing yourself to make eye contact.
Not like a predator sizing up it’s next meal with unbroken focus, but bring awareness to how often you look away from people.
Notice how uncomfortable it feels good to make eye contact more often and hold it for longer.
And do it anyway.
There’s a “knowing” in that gaze – an acknowledgement.
A connection that stirs, inspires, and bonds.
The same thing happens when we smile.
With someone you’re close to… when was the last time you touched someone, got close enough to smell them, lingered in that hold?
Your senses connect you to others but you have to be intentional about it.
You create room for depth when you slow down and give your full attention – all your senses.
In your relationships – romantic or otherwise – look at people and hold their gaze, smile, be present.
It’ll feel awkward at first – a reminder at how little you pay attention to those around you.
Let it make you feel alive.
Make this top of mind every day.
Look for ways to connect with people, strangers and those you know.
Start bringing awareness to simply connecting.
Phone down, eyes up.
And then take it deeper with people close to you – your relationships and your families.
Dig into it – pay attention to the response you get from people you love when you focus on this.
Pay attention to how it softens you – how it changes your physiology and how you feel.
2. Use your voice.
Tell people what you value in them.
Tell people that you love them.
Tell people what frustrates you about them.
Either way – stop holding back in your life.
Because if you’re holding back in your relationships, you’re likely doing it in other places as well.
People want to feel valued.
Not for their physical appearance which we spend so much time focusing on, but for who they are.
When was the last time you complimented someone on their character?
Think about what you value in others and when you see it speak it out loud.
In the moments when you carve out presence with intentional focus – use your voice.
Your words can speak life to someone.
How often do you use yours to speak death? To their face in criticism or in quiet whispered judgment, or behind their back in both?
Choose to speak words that reaffirm value and gratitude of the people you’ve chosen to partner up with.
Do it at work and at home.
This will radically change your experience with others.
This will radically change your relationship with your partner and your children – with these people this goes the furthest.
Have meaningful, open, honest conversations.
Be ok with being misunderstood, even rejected.
If you can be fallibly vulnerable with others, they will start to be the same with you. No games. No guessing.
You will begin to develop relationships where you can be 100% your authentic self.
Others will cherish that in you because they will be able to do the same.
Suddenly we’ve dropped the bullshit and just get to be – good and bad in one big acceptable package.
Your relationships will be 100% revolutionized as a result because we will be allowed to feel safe in the presence of others.
This level of authentic vulnerability is scary but essential to be fulfilled in any relationship.
This level of vulnerability will open you up for potential disaster in the form of manipulation or hurt.
Do it anyway.
You’ll survive it if it gets turned against you – and when it isn’t, you’ll feel a noticeable deepening of connection.
3. Lose your ego.
Let go of expectations.
They’re probably unrealistic anyway.
No one is perfect.
Accept that in others and in yourself.
Stop holding grudges and expecting people to serve you or cater to you or never disappoint or hurt you.
Allow people to make mistakes and be human so that you can too.
Stop placing unrealistic expectations on other people and on relationships in general.
People are not in your life to be a custom fit for what you need.
Or even what you think you want.
Our relationships are supposed to provide comfort and warmth, but they are also supposed to challenge us and encourage growth.
Stop being so afraid or resistant to people challenging you, disagreeing with you, not fitting into your perfect idea of what a friendship or relationships should look like.
You aren’t going to dissolve with some diversity in your life.
Good people are rare.
Stop being entitled and over sensitive and treating people like they’re disposable. Never let yourself be abused or taken advantage of, but people are not things to be discarded on a whim.
Healthy relationships are also rare.
Because we focus on what we want and what we deserve and what serves us in this moment.
And forget to look at a bigger picture – a wider lens.
People have become who they are so imperfectly because of many variables, including that we all have made choices on how to survive with the resources available to us.
And yet we’re really good at judging how someone else chose to survive the circumstances of their life.
But we don’t want the same judgment in return.
“Just accept me for who I am!” – we cry…
Yes… well you first.
So we create a hostile environment, bowing to the demands of our entitled ego.
And then we hide, because we’re too afraid to be vulnerable and open.
We don’t want to be seen, so we get really good at calling out others.
Success is nothing without the development of your character and the enriching of your own and others experiences in this life.
Your relationships are a huge component of your legacy here on earth.
How you treat others is what people will remember most about you.
Start challenging yourself daily to connect in deeper ways.
Feel the fear of vulnerability and dive into it anyway.
Toughen up to hurt and disappointment so that you can experience the depth of authentic connections and real love.
Instead of letting old wounds make you hard, be brave enough to find your softness.
Stop shutting people out, stop checking out, and start having conversations that mean something.
Exploring this kind of depth gives you a soft place to land while you go out and be fierce and conquer your world in the rest of your ambitions. Start being selective about the people you invest and spend time in. And with the ones that you choose – start going deeper. Be intentional about this process. Pay attention to people. Vocalize what you notice about them that you value with bold words, open emotional expression, tangible presence.