May 22, 2021 9:07 am Published by Dave ScholesLeave your thoughts
I think that the past year has taught us all a great deal about human connection. The absence of freedom to see our loved ones has impacted not just ourselves but our personal networks – and in turn our communities, our cities, our country, and ultimately, our entire world. For our species it has been a year unlike any other in living memory and is undoubtedly an era which will be taught in history lessons for centuries to come. In amongst the stress and the sadness and the horrendous loss, it might be possible to draw some powerful and positive lessons from what we have all been through.
We have been prompted to examine what human connection means to us and we have been forced to adapt to ensure that it remains a part of our lives, which demonstrates how essential it is to our wellbeing. We have all got accustomed to the ‘hug’ emoji, to Zoom catch ups over a cuppa or a g&t, to virtual birthday, wedding or christening celebrations. Previously techno-phobic parents and grandparents (my mother included) have needed to embrace new methods of connection in order to watch grandchildren grow, and sometimes even to meet them for the first time via video call.
We have adapted and managed to remain connected with our loved ones despite not seeing some of them for more than twelve months, because connection with others is what gives life meaning, and safety, and happiness.
The concept of Six Connections is so very simple, but so very powerful. It is no exaggeration to say that offering a meaningful connection to someone can change their life, their experience of the world and their self-perception and feeling of worth. When I lost my brother to suicide nearly ten years ago, my first instinct was to throw my hands out to my support network and to grip on tightly to those people who could carry me through by simply being there. One of the very few positives of going through something like bereavement by suicide is that you are left in no doubt about the people in your life who will always be available for you to connect with.
My husband, family and a handful of friends who are worth their weight in gold; ongoing, life enhancing relationships with people who I know are there for me forever, come what may.
However in the blur of bereavement, other friendship, support and connection came from the most unpredictable of places – the friend of a friend who messaged me out of the blue to express her condolences and ask if I wanted to have coffee; the colleague who looked me right in the eyes and questioned whether I was really OK to be back at work (…I wasn’t!); my GP who gave me far longer than my ten minute slot, who spoke to me human to human rather than professional to patient, and whose eyes filled with tears as he shared with me that he had also lost his brother recently.
These people spring to mind as true bolts from the blue, whose support and connection at that point in my life I have never forgotten and have always been thankful for. They probably had no idea what an impact they had on me, what a difference they made to those horrific days.
Having been through a time when connection meant so much, I try now to be a person and a friend who is willing and able to connect with others and offer support if I can. It sometimes takes bravery and swagger – as Mindsight founder Dave would say – to be that connection but imagine what we could achieve if we could all commit to doing what we can to be present for our fellow humans. Suddenly the wellbeing of others is everyone’s responsibility, and by all taking small actions and making small connections, we can increase wellbeing, change culture and make a real impact.
In a way, the global pandemic of the past 18 months has perfectly illustrated the power of connections. Through human connection, how quickly the world was engulfed by something negative and destructive; a virus. So, what if we flipped the focus and took this as evidence that we can use the same human contact which created a global pandemic in a positive way; to light the touch paper and begin to spread a global culture of care. Ambitious, but – as we have seen – totally possible, through simple acts of connection.
It is a call to arms… but more ‘arms round shoulders’ than ‘ready, set, fire’.
So, let’s stop talking about it and thinking about it and just do it. Only one question remains….
Who are your Six Connections?
To find out more about Six Connections and how brews, beer and mental health really do mix, visit www.sixconnections.co.uk
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