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April 7, 2023

Fostering Connection: Through Difficult Seasons of Life

by Casey Weaver, MSW, LCSW

Let’s start by defining the word connection: How would you define connection? What images or memories come to mind? Does connection hold a positive or negative connotation for you? It is important to note that how we define a concept (often informed by our own experiences and beliefs) greatly impacts how we move forward in relation to said concept. Our definitions impact how we live, feel, and foster connection to people, places, and things around us. One of the best ways to begin fostering connection in any way, is to better understand what connection means to you. The next step could be to challenge this definition. Is this a healthy definition for you? Does this definition align with the goals you have yourself? If not, YOU have the ability to challenge and change that definition, and subsequently your experiences with and through life.

If you find yourself in a difficult season of life, I would begin by challenging you to think about what defines this as a difficult season of life for you? Is it a particular feeling? Is it a situation outside of your control? What makes this a difficult season of life for you?

Once you better understand why this situation is particularly difficult for you, you can begin taking steps to navigate through it. I encourage people, particularly during difficult times, to “get back to the basics.” One way we can begin to foster connection through a difficult season of life is ensuring we are attending to our basic needs for rest (make sure you are getting quality sleep), nutrition (eating foods that support your body), and hydration (supplying your body with water). Movement can be an important contribution to our physical and mental wellness, especially through seasons of life that we define as particularly difficult. It will be hard to connect with oneself or other people, places or things without these basic needs being attended to.

I would next encourage people navigating a particularly difficult season of life to look for the opportunity for connection that is most readily available. You want to set yourself up for success. If you are going through a difficult season, it might not be the time to try and develop new relationships or implement new habits. If those things happen, GREAT! A place to start would be the opportunities for connection that already exist. Do you have a co-worker or friend who has offered to go out to lunch with you? Take them up on it! Do you have a great coffee shop near your home that you have been wanting to try? Go try it! Do you have a mediation app on your phone that you downloaded months ago, but have yet to use it? Now is the time!  Take the opportunities to connect to people, places and things that are already within your realm of possibility. Difficult seasons of life may not be the time to create new systems and rhythms in your life, but they can be a great opportunity to invest in the opportunities that exist.

Honesty. Back with the questions, what does this word mean to you? Honesty can be a great concept to utilize during difficult seasons of life both within yourself and with others. Recognizing that we are in fact going through a hard season in life can lead to a reduction in the shame or guilt we might feel and a greater connection and acceptance to and towards the things we might need during this particular time. Perhaps we do in fact need more rest, maybe social events are not satisfying you as they once were and further drain or exhaust you. THAT IS OK, and perhaps probable in these times. We can be honest with where we are AND realize this does not and will not last forever. I suspect honesty is the key to allowing ourselves the ability to utilize the tools needed to identify the supportive ways in which we can navigate the situation versus exacerbating it. Honesty with others regarding how you are doing and where you are in life can be an important and necessary way to foster connection during a difficult season of life. I would challenge you to identify one to two people you can trust to be honest with regarding your experience and situation at present. Perhaps honesty can deepen the connection that already exists and set you up for areas of growth and maturity in the connections you have already established.

Difficult seasons in life will come, they are an unavoidable part of our experience.  The hope is remembering these three concepts can help you navigate them with a greater sense of connection to the people, places, and things around you.

  1. Get back to the basics.
  2. Set yourself up for success.
  3. Be honest.

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