Sometimes, the world feels relentless.
We’re pulled in a thousand different directions every day, and not just logistically. Our hearts themselves are often pulled, bruised, tattered, and disconnected. Sometimes, the loneliest place to be is in the middle of a crowded room.
The painful irony is that the more emaciated and disconnected your heart is, the harder it is to reconnect. It creates a cycle of withdrawal and isolation.
That’s hard for anyone, but for those whose love language is quality time, it can feel especially fraught.
Here are a handful of ways to nurture the connection you need when life keeps getting in the way:
1. Stay connected to your own heart.
The ability to love and be loved starts from within, and it’s with your heart that you connect to others, so take some time to nourish your own heart.
So often, when we’re feeling depleted, we turn to social media or Netflix, but those can easily drain us more than they nourish us. Pay attention to what fills you up. Notice which books, music, movies, spiritual practices, activities, podcasts, magazines, or even specific social media accounts inspire you and nourish you on a soul level. Keep a list so you can remember them when your energy is low.
You are half of the quality-time equation, so take care of your heart so you can show up fully.
2. Pay attention to your own thoughts so when you have a chance to connect, you’re ready for it.
I used to get frustrated with myself because I would crave connection, but when a chance came up, I felt like I didn’t have anything to say. I was busy all the time, and I had thoughts about it, but I was so used to shoving them down, that most opportunities to connect passed me by. Even worse, sometimes I would word-vomit all over a friend, and they wouldn’t know how to handle it, which actually created disconnection.
Connection requires honesty, vulnerability, and time. If you know you aren’t going to have as much time as you’d like, make the most of it by being honest with yourself, first, so you can be honest with your loves.
This goes beyond connection and, over time, becomes an important form of self-care. Our thoughts create our experiences more than the circumstances themselves do. If you notice thoughts coming up that further disconnect you, don’t just shove them down. Give yourself space, and if needed get help, to work through them.
3. Create rhythms of connection.
This is the biggest game-changer, although it’s the hardest to get going. As much as possible, set a weekly or monthly rhythm of connection with your inner circle. Make it the default, and make it as easy as possible to stay connected.
If time is especially short, tap into the power of the mundane. Run errands together. Trade help cleaning or organizing. Do meal prep together.
Knowing you have quality time to look forward does wonders to buoy you during the dry spells. If you need a little extra time to reconnect with yourself and build toward honesty, it helps with that, too.
4. Verbalize your needs.
You’re always more likely to get what you need when you’re willing to verbalize it. Those who don’t feel the same need for quality time may not understand it, but if they love you, they’ll be glad you told them.
How often do you want to see them? Do you want it to be one-on-one? Do you need the phones to be put away? Or, maybe you’re too depleted to talk, so movie-nights-only. Do your best to explain what they mean to you, and how you can best connect.
5. Focus on relationships with those ready to meet you where you are.
The hard reality is, not everyone will be willing to engage in this level of connection. This doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. If you feel disappointed at their response—and sometimes you will be—circle back to connecting with your own heart. Take good care of yourself.
Then, when it comes to building relationships, focus on those who are willing and able to figure this out with you. Rather than trying to force it where it’s not flowing, build stronger connections with those who are delighted to reciprocate.
Be gentle with yourself. Recognize how valuable your self-awareness is. Remember that change doesn’t come overnight, but celebrate each step forward.