Two Words to Avoid for Deep Connection
“I’m fine” are two words to avoid if you want to create a deep connection to yourself, to others and to Spirit.
I distinctly remember a day in grad school in Austin, TX where I was working on my Masters in Latin American Studies. I was walking to class when I passed my friend Luke in a stairwell. He asked how I was. “I’m fine,” I replied. “Hmmm,” he said, “you always say that, is that the truth?”
That conversation took place 35 years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday. I looked at Luke in surprise, taken aback by his question. It was one of those transitional moments that had me looking more deeply into today’s topic: Deep Connection.
My conversation with Luke had me looking at how I used those two little words to create distance and separation as opposed to intimacy in my relationships.
When I think about connection, I don’t only mean connection to self but all kinds of connection. Topping the list for me are connection to Spirit, to self, to nature and to others. Only when the first two are clear and uncluttered can I hope to feel connected to others.
I don’t honestly remember what I responded to Luke that day and I probably didn’t stop saying I’m fine as a way to protect myself and keep all my feelings buried deep inside.
Over the last few years I’ve become more conscious of when I utter or hear the phrase “I’m fine” and what it might be covering up.
Words are magical and can easily create or break deep connection.
If you want to create more intimate connections with self and others, if you want to make more meaningful art and feel more connected to the Divine, then you have to be conscious of the language you’re using.
I often use art to explore the blocks and open the channels to expressing all of my feelings in healthy ways.
I’m committed to wiping the phrase “I’m fine” from my conversations with others. Perhaps you’ve seen the humorous saying that fine is an acronym for “F**ed Up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional”?
Consider what you are really saying next time you utter or hear someone else state, “I’m fine.”
Over the years, I did a brilliant job of hiding all that from myself and others. Below I share how I learned to use art to stop hiding and start sharing my true self.
First, let’s define deep connection.
I love this definition of deep connection from Dustin Smith on the Lifesize blog:
“A personal connection is a genuine bond formed between two people wherein each person feels seen, heard and known. Whether or not we’re able to acknowledge it, each of us carries an innate need to connect with others.”
I would extend Smith’s definition to include the bonds we form with God, with ourself and with nature.
Deep means to be profoundly absorbed or immersed. It also means strongly felt or experienced. Finally, deep means far below the surface. To me deep is about foundations of our experience and our emotions that stored below the surface of our consciousness. It also reflects the intensity of our experience.
To create healthy, intimate relationships with self, Spirit and others, it is important to take time to deepen your connection with yourself. I love doing this through expressive arts practices and especially what I call “visual journaling.”
Visual Journaling Practice
I felt called to have a dialogue with my Inner Artist but who showed up surprised me. My Inner Child wanted to come out to play.
Often I work in a journal but felt in this session decided to play with a blank piece of sulphite paper, I love the texture of this paper and it is relatively strong and works with a variety of media.
Non-dominant hand writing
Using hard chalk pastels, I wrote my question on the page and then I wrote the answer with my non-dominant hand. In my case, I am left-handed so I was doing most of my writing with my right hand. As you can see in the photo, it’s messy! I could barely read it but that didn’t matter.
I spent about 15 minutes writing a dialogue between my adult conscious self and my Inner Child who felt like she was about 5 years old. There are many different versions of my Inner Child and today the playful one appeared to remind me of the importance of play and to tell me she was tired of feeling sad all the time. We’ve had some family challenges that have left me feeling sad for a while but she reminded me I could choose how to feel and that unless I expressed the feelings I couldn’t name them or move them out of my body.
When I felt complete with writing, I did some fun scribbling where an angel and a butterfly showed up to remind me I am loved and supported. I could feel my body relaxing into a more joyful and playful state.
I covered the pages with a thin layer of matte medium to seal in the pastel and not have it smudge all over everything. I took some notes from the non-dominant hand dialogue so I could remember what was important from this conversation.
Torn Paper Collage
My Inner Child wanted to tear paper and create a collage. I grabbed some collage materials and started shredding paper and laying it out on the page. I worked intuitively and without judge. I used matte medium under and over the collage bits to create a smooth surface.
Then I added a layer of white gesso over the top of the collage, allowing some of the collage bits and marks to still show throw.
I grabbed an oil pastel that was sitting on the table and did some more non-dominant hand writing and scribbling on the page.
The Great Battle Between the Inner Critic and the Inner Child
Until this moment, I was playing, moving intuitively around the page and having fun. Then the Inner Critic in me began to judge the process and try to take over what should happen next. I lost the deep playful connection I’d created with my Inner Child and my own Intuition.
Because I work with the process often, I was able to be the observer and simply watch what was happening for a few minutes. I was able to reassure the critic and let the child take charge again.
Finger Painting for the Win!
I randomly picked 3 colors of paint and started to add paint to the page. I used my fingers, I used fluid acrylics that I could drip and spray with water. I got really messy, painty hands and every aspect of my being was joyful and playful. I felt connected to myself in a way that was freeing.
Then I walked away for a while to let it dry and to let the image sit.
The next morning I added more collage on both sides of the page. Now my Inner Teenager began to make an appearance and want her voice to be heard. Suddenly the piece became all about keeping appearances when all she wanted was to be herself.
On one side of the collage are the repressed and stored feelings of anger, sorrow, emotions that have been buried deep for a long time. You can see this finished collage at the top of the post. On the other side is the false appearance of the model, the ballerina and the girl in the pretty pink dress, all under watchful eyes of family and society. I never liked pink. I never liked girly stuff. I was told I was too chubby to be a ballerina – when I was five or six!
My Inner Rebel had a lot to say but the most important question that came out of this entire experience was to look at areas of my life and work where I still “keep up appearances” and where I still say “I’m fine” instead of speaking vulnerably about my true feelings and expressions.
I’m still working on the answer to that question but so much showed up here to be revealed, noticed and cleared away. I didn’t feel caught up or sad or mad about the experience. I simply watched and felt grateful to see some of the many threads that can keep me tied up in knots.
I love the visual journaling process as a way to practice deep connection to self.
Without this deep connection to my own heart, mind and emotions, I can get caught up in “I’m fine” rather than creating loving, honest relationships based on vulnerability and authenticity.
If you are seeking that deeper, more loving honest connection with yourself and those around you and you aren’t sure how to begin or know you need a guide, please reach out. As a Certified Depth Coach, I support you to explore all the different aspects of yourself that make up the whole YOU. Through expressive arts, you will explore your root stories and heal past experiences that keep you stuck in “I’m fine.” You can schedule a complimentary Breakthrough to Creative Courage call with me here.