Andy Maurer is a therapist, speaker, and emotional wellness coach. Today he is sharing tips on how to feel connected to yourself, your spouse or partner, your children, and your work during this time of disconnection.
Hi everybody. My name is Andy Maurer. I’m an emotional wellness coach and a licensed therapist for leaders, entrepreneurs, and influencers. This is a season of extreme disconnection. We feel it all around us. We feel disconnected from our self. We feel disconnected from those around us and we feel disconnected from our work, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We can restore wholeness to these fragmented parts of our lives and I’m going to teach you how to do that today. I’m going to teach you how to reconnect with yourself, others, and your work.
Focus On Your Power And Your Pain
In all of us, we have two parts. We have a part that carries our power and we have a part inside that carries our pain, and guess which part I know all of you want to focus on right now.
You want to focus on your part of power because you’re under high levels of stress and trauma, anxiety and depression, and you’re thinking I can’t possibly be in this any longer. Please, Andy, give me some tools and tactics and strategies to keep me positive, to keep this part of power driving. And yet, when we only focus on that one part, this other part suffers.
Most of us fear going into a place of pain because we think that if we feel those things—we feel the discouragement, the fear, the powerlessness, the depression, the anxiety—somehow it’s going to overwhelm us. It’s going to overtake us. We’re afraid that when we focus on those negative emotions or uncomfortable emotions, we’re giving them power over us.
But the opposite is true. When we can notice what we feel, we can attune to what we feel, we actually feel a sense of power. We have power now over those emotions. In order to attune to what we feel in our pain, we have to acknowledge one thing that all of us are going through right now, which is grief.
Some days we feel depressed and some days we feel anxious and some days we feel absolutely all over the place. And yet that is the process of grief and grief happens when we have things that we wanted or that we needed and we can’t have those anymore.
We don’t want to acknowledge that the grief is happening. We don’t want to acknowledge that it hurts. So we avoid it — we turn the other direction and we think that somehow we can we can just make it through –– but that’s not how grief works, because then we move to the stage of bargaining which is this process where we try to make grief be our master and we try to make it work for us.
And when we do that over and over again, we put forth all that energy, we get tired and we move into depression. We move into this sense of apathy and numbness and loss of power in our body. And then we move into a sense of anger. We move into this sense of injustice, of “why does this have to be this way?” It’s like standing in an ocean where the waves keep coming over you over and over and over again. And the more you fight them, the more you push back the more tired you will be.
Instead of fighting the grief and telling it what we need, we open up our hands and we say, “what do you want to produce inside of me right now in my character, in my family, and my sense of resiliency, and getting to know myself?”
Open Your Heart And Ask Questions
If you feel like you’ve completely lost your sense of power and you’re stuck and flooded in those painful emotions, you can do a couple things. One thing that I love to do is literally move and sit into a different chair. And in that chair, you’re going to put your feet flat on the ground. You’re going to straighten your spine and have it feel like a sense of steel inside of you. You’re going to open up your heart and let it feel warm.
I want you to imagine yourself 20 years in the future with a sense of power, a sense of wisdom, a sense of confidence, and I want you to notice what that feels like in your body as you see yourself 20 years in the future –– just settle into that. Notice the physical sensations that you feel, notice the emotions that come up. Maybe you feel your spine get straight. Maybe you feel warmth in your body and you feel a sense of empowerment or courage or confidence. And I want you to sit with that for 60 seconds.
And then I want you to turn to that other chair and I want you to ask yourself: What’s one thing that this part of pain needs today from me?What’s one thing that I can say to that part to encourage it, to give empowerment, to soothe it?
When you’re stuck in that part of pain you can’t help yourself until you back out and you start to observe it and you can speak to it.
Externalize And Name The Problem
The other thing to do to tap into your sense of empowerment is to make a list of five moments or times in your life where you felt like you were not going to make it through. These are seasons of life where, in that moment, you felt crushed. And it’s important to write those memories down to remember: How did I make it through those moments when I felt like I could not go any longer?
The first thing we can do to restore wholeness to our relationships with others is that we can externalize the problem. With our spouse, during high levels of stress, we’re prone to attack our spouse and see them as the enemy. When we feel anxiety or fear. We attack rather than want to get close to someone as a way to protect.
But if we can externalize the problem, which is this process of placing the anxiety, the fear, the financial pressure outside of the home, outside of the marriage, and recognize that me and my spouse — we link arms. We are one team fighting against the anxiety fighting against the powerlessness, fighting against the despair.
Connecting With Your Children
In order to feel connected with your children, you have to give them 4 things: Time, Attunement, Affection, and Direction.
1. Spend Time With Your Children
The first is you need to give them time. You need to physically be around your kids. They need to see you in the home. So if you’re in your office at home, even, for 9 hours a day, and you don’t come out—come out every hour say hi to them. Let them know “I missed you. I love you. It’s so great to see you.” And if you can’t be with your child throughout the day, maybe give them a picture of you –– something that they can hold. Or you spray some perfume on a stuffed animal and they can hold that they can feel your presence with them throughout the day, but we have to provide a sense of quality time with our children.
And you can’t be with your kids all the time, but you can have moments and windows throughout your day –– 5 minutes every hour to have quality time where you sit down and you do something fun with them.
2. Attune To Your Children
The second thing is that we need to attune to our children. When we’re faced with high levels of stress and trauma, we don’t go outside, we go inside. We think about what’s best for us. We think about what we’re struggling with and we forget about the world around us, and that can be difficult for children.
One thing that I love to do is sit on the couch and I simply watched my two boys play. I noticed what they might be feeling, what they might be thinking, how their bodies are moving. What’s their mood? What’s their energy level? And I just delight in them. I watch them and I observe them and I ask myself, “what am I noticing about my child right now?” Those are all ways that we attune and take notice of our child.
3. Give Your Children Affection
The third thing is that they need affection. They need physical touch. When we touch, it produces oxytocin, which is a bonding chemical. So you might want to sit down next to your kid while they’re playing and gently rub their back. You might want to hug them when you leave the home or when you come home or give them a big kiss. You might want to give them extra cuddles at night and extra cuddles in the morning during this difficult season.
4. Give Your Children Direction
The fourth thing is that children, they do need direction, and that needs to come from us as parents. Our children need boundaries and they need guidelines. This is good. This actually helps them flourish and come alive.
There’s a study that was done where there was a group of children placed into a large field without a fence or barrier around it, and they watched and they observe these kids, and they found that they only ventured out so far –– and they did it mainly in groups.
Well this other group of children, they placed in a similar size field, but they put a fence around the field. They had some barrier and they found that these kids they ventured all the way out to the edges of this field, all the way out to the fences, and they even did it by themselves sometimes. And what that tells us is that boundaries and barriers are not restrictive to our children. They provide a sense of safety and stability.
Now, I’m not here to tell you how to parent your kids. There’s lots of great reasons for that. But we do have to step in and we have to direct and discipline and guide our children during this time.
Reconnect With Your Work
The last thing is that I want you to reconnect with your work.
As entrepreneurs we’re either running away from something or we were frequently running to something. We’re either running to our sense of identity and purpose and meaning and what we do, or we’re running from our pain that’s in the past. And we’re hoping that if we stay busy and we stay distracted, we won’t have to feel those things.
You need to pause during the season of work and you need to ask yourself: Why am I working? What’s my purpose? What is my why? And if it’s to somehow prove your sense of self-worth when work starts to plummet, your sense of identity and purpose and meaning will plummet.
But if, instead, you can find your sense of self purpose, your sense of value, your sense of meaning internally and work from that—when work shifts and adjusts, you will find your stability. In order to stay connected to our work, we have to stay connected to who we are as a person and what we feel. You can’t selectively numb an emotion.
When we selectively try to numb anxiety and depression and fear and loneliness, we also numb power, encouragement, confidence, creativity. So in order to pour back into your work with creativity and passion and excitement and a sense of purpose and meaning, we have to stay connected to what’s going on inside of our self.
While this season is very difficult to feel connected with our self, others, and our work, my hope is that some of these tools and these techniques will allow you to reconnect and to be whole.