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The beauty of being true with yourself and others

Nurturing

BEING REAL To truly connect with others, we first have to truly connect with ourselves.

Mental Health

Jannah Walshe

This period of social isolation has got me thinking about connection. If you have been socially isolating at home, it is probable that you have been only physically interacting with your immediate family or housemates. Or you may be living alone. Whatever your circumstance, you may be getting more time by yourself and maybe more time to do the things that you truly enjoy.
Many people have been telling me about getting lost in their hobbies, which could be anything from gardening to learning a new instrument. Some are not doing anything new but are getting time to truly rest, sleep more and look after themselves.
And some are busier than ever working away to provide all the essential services that we rely on. Some are lonely and really missing their loved ones.  
If you are one of the ones getting more solitude than company, have you noticed that the slowing down is allowing you more connection to yourself? When we slow down it often allows us the chance to take stock, reevaluate our priorities and do those things that are most important to us.
To have true connection with others, we first have to have that connectedness with ourselves. This means been aware of how we are doing in the moment (what feelings are present), being okay with who we are in that moment (not feeling like something about us has to change before we can relax with others), doing what we want to do in that moment (not stopping ourselves doing what we would normally do because someone else is present) and allowing ourselves to enjoy the moment (not feeling like we need to be suffering or working hard to be valuable).
Here are a few tips to get you started on the road to connectedness.

1. Be in the moment
When you connect with others, be fully available to the present moment and to the shared experience you are having with them. By being in the moment you can truly enjoy that moment in time with that person. By living through this social isolation we are getting a renewed appreciation for all those small moments.

2. Be yourself
Human connection only works if there is honesty. It doesn’t work if you are trying to be something you aren’t. If you worry that someone is secretly criticising something about you or that something needs to change about yourself before you can be really accepted, then you are not being yourself. By living through this scary time, many people are becoming much more accepting of flaws in others and in themselves.

3. Be honest
Feeling enough trust with someone to share a sad or upsetting experience can be a very strong way of connecting with them. Being able to share the good and the bad is what true connection is all about.

4. Be kind
Judging and criticising others won’t allow you to really connect with them. Human connection is usually kind. One extremely positive thing to come out of this period of isolation is the kindness that is being shown to others. Communities are rallying together like never before. People are thinking outside the box, coming up with ways to help their neighbours, extended family and friends.

Knowing who you are, being true to yourself and allowing others to see that, is a great base towards really connecting well with others. It can take courage and trust to do this, but the results are well worth the effort.
Use this time, if you can, to discover who you are and start to share that uniqueness that is you with your loved ones. You will all reap the benefits.

Jannah Walshe is a fully accredited psychotherapist, course facilitator and mental-health speaker based in Co Mayo. More information about Jannah can be found at www.jannahwalshe.ie.