Humans have accomplished many remarkable feats in our short custodianship over this planet. We’ve soared to the skies, dived to the depths of the oceans, and even put people on the moon, but none are more remarkable than our ability to feel lonely in a room full of people.
We’ve spent the last 10,000 years bringing people physically closer through the development of cities, created devices that allow you to see someone’s face in real-time while they’re standing on the other side of the planet, and reduced the time it takes to contact someone down so low it’s measured in milliseconds. And yet, as we brought people closer, we somehow managed to lose the ability to connect with others in epidemic proportions.
Maybe we started to take connection for granted now that we live so close we can hear our neighbours flush their toilet, or maybe we just assumed this was an inherent skill we couldn’t forget. Whatever the reason, 1 in 4 people admit experiencing loneliness and another 2 in 4 will experience it sometime over their lifetime.
The good news is that dealing with loneliness is not complicated, difficult, or confusing when you know what you’re doing. It just requires a basic understanding of human connection and how you can discover it with the thousands of people who pass through your life every day.
What is connection?
Human connection, in its simplest form, is finding a commonality with another person or group of people. It’s finding something that you both (or all) agree on or have experienced or are experiencing at the same time.
It’s very basic: when you have some an identified commonality with another person, you have a connection to them. That’s what connection is in it’s simplest form.
What are different kinds of connections?
There are many different ways to connect with people. They include:
- Geographical connection – you live in the same location, work at the same location, or are from the same location
- Cultural connection – you have the same traditions and customs
- Demographic connection – you share the same physical traits such as age, skin colour, physical size, etc…
- Biological connection – you’re related
- Physiological connection – you have similar physiological traits such as height, weight, medical conditions, etc…
- Historical connection – you have a shared history or have been through similar events
- Physical connection – you have, or are currently, touching
- Psychological connection – you hold the same beliefs, views, vision, and desires
- Emotional connection – you have, or are currently, going through the same emotions
I’m sure there’s more that I haven’t considered here (hit me up in the comments below if you think of one), but you get the idea. There are plenty of different ways forms of human connection and so, very different ways to connect with people.
Why do you feel lonely?
If you look through the list above, you’ll see that you’re actually already connected to at a minimum, thousands of people, right now.
- How many people do you have a geographical connection to, right now? HEAPS. You’re surrounded by people.
- How many people do you have a cultural connection to, right now? HEAPS. Of the 7 billion people on earth, you have the same customs as at least 1,000 of them
- How many people do you have a demographic connection to, right now? HEAPS. There are plenty of people who’re the same age and probably the same weight
You get the idea. You’re connected to a minimum of thousands of people, right now. You’re not alone and you’re not disconnected; you’re part of the crew. You’re part of a community.
That means that if you’re feeling lonely, it’s not because you’re not connected to people. You’re literally connected to more people than you probably have ever met in your entire life. Your loneliness is a product of one of two things:
- Focussing on the wrong kind of connection
- Having an inefficient mechanism for connection
Here’s a deep dive into both of those.
Problem 1. The ‘Wrong’ Kind of Connection
There are many different ways to connect with people, and not all ways are created equal. To understand why, you first need to consider the kind of connection you desire.
When you imagine your connections with other people, what quality of connection springs to mind?
- Do you imagine yourself sitting in a city with thousands of other people who all live in the same place but don’t interact with each other in any way and even actively avoid eye contact as they walk towards each other in the supermarket? I doubt it. I’m willing to guess you’re either doing something like that right now or have done something like that and know the limitations of it.
- Do you imagine yourself living in a culturally-homogenous country where every person subscribes to the same practices and beliefs yet actively searches for ways to criticise and isolate those who look or act differently? Probably not.
- Do you imagine yourself hanging in a community centre with people around the same age from your local area who freeze you out of their conversations and laugh at you when you try to join in? No, you’re not.
I don’t personally know you and it’s likely that we’ve never met, but I can guess something about you without ever having spoken a word to you: you want deep, real, and meaningful connections.
I’m not a psychic, this is just one commonality that spans almost the entire human race (another kind of connection – you’re literally connected to everyone!). People don’t crave surface-level, insignificant, shallow connections. They don’t sit around pondering how they can form meaningless connections with more people than they can count. They crave true depth and significance in their connections, just like you.
Now, go back to that list of different types of connections: which types of connections will give you the type of depth that you crave?
Geographical? Cultural? Demographic?
No. They’re surface level and insignificant, as proven by the millions of people who live in the same cities and countries and share the same demographics, yet still feel isolated.
Biological Connection? Physiological Connection?
No. You can easily feel completely isolated from people that share the same or similar DNA.
Maybe, but sharing a history doesn’t guarantee an experience of connection. People with a shared history can make you feel just as isolated, if not more isolated, than someone you have no history with by ignoring you despite your shared history.
Yes, physical connection, depending on the type (shaking hands is very different to rolling around naked with each other), duration (5 minutes is much better than 30 seconds (according to my wife…)), and intimacy of physical contact(holding hands with someone you care about is much more rewarding than shaking hands with someone you’ve just met), can give you a certain depth of connection but it’s limited, in that it vanishes soon after you break physical contact.
Now we get onto the fun stuff: psychological connection is the kind of connection where you can start to form real, deep, and meaningful connections with others, depending on which element of psychological connection you’re focussing on and how deep and meaningful the elements are.
You can form deep and meaningful connections with people by holding the same beliefs and values. The depth of your connection will depend greatly on the emotoinal significance of that particular belief or value (the belief that chicken salt is superior to regular salt will leave you with significantly less depth of connection than the belief that all sentient beings have the right to live), but finding the right one will leave you feeling connected.
The same thing goes with desires. Whilst shallow, insignificant, and common desires (both wanting another slice of pizza or wanting the same designer brand belt buckle) will leave you feeling a lack of any real depth to your connection, identifying deep, personal, and emotionally significant desires (gain the approval or your parents or saving the star-nosed mole from almost certain extinction) will help you experience a real and significant depth of connection.
Your vision of your ideal life is the one psychological desire where the depth or commonality really doesn’t matter. If someone else holds the same vision of the life they want to live, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll experience a connection with them. A life vision is a very personal and emotionally significant part of someone’s life and so if they have that vision and it matches yours, there’s a good chance you’ll connect with them on a real and significant level.
If at any point in time, you are experiencing the same emotion as another person or you can empathise with an emotion they’re experiencing based on previous experience, you will feel connected to them. Emotions, by their very nature, are deep, real, and significant, and if you’re both experiencing them, you will feel connected to them.
This means that if you’re currently not experiencing connection, it could be because you’re focussing on the wrong kind of connection. You might be focussing on geographic, demographic, historical, or maybe even the less-significant psychological connections rather than the deep, real and personal types of connection. But that’s just a maybe because maybe you have an…
Problem 2. Inefficient Mechanisms for Connection
Feeling disconnected doesn’t necessarily mean you’re targetting the wrong type of connection. You can try for the deep and real psychological types of connection or even emotional connection, but
It’s like you’re trying to win a game of soccer by picking up a ball and throwing it into your own goal. Your objective is fine, but the way you’re going about it is likely to cause significant issues along the way.
There’s one really common example you’ve probably not only seen in your everyday life, but have also been part of more than once, and may have actually instigated as a pathway to addressing your loneliness at some point in time.
It goes like this: two or more people meet and start discussing a topic and someone makes a statement that relates to their values. Now, as you know from the section above, values are a way to develop a deep psychological connection if done right. In this case, they’re not done right.
Instead of making a statement of their deep and significant values and connecting with others based on that, they make a statement relating to some insignificant value (like someone’s outfit or an opinion about something that someone has done). This, in itself, is fine as most conversations will contain mentions of insignificant values, but the next part is the really ineffective part. Instead of using that statement as a gateway to dive deeper and develop real and significant connections, people just nod their head and say ‘Oh, yeah, I know!’, without considering the statement and regardless of whether or not they do agree.
This means that not only are they connecting on an insignificant value, but it’s an insignificant value they don’t necessarily agree on! Given what you’ve just learnt, does that sound effective to you?
The other ineffective mechanism for connecting with people is trying to connect on a deep and real level, but doing so at a time that’s completely inappropriate — like in a nightclub or in the office. Sure, you feel lonely and want to connect. And it’s great that you want to have real, deep, and meaningful conversations about your emotions or vision or desires to develop that connection, but doing so in a nightclub or at the office really isn’t effective. The people you’re trying to connect with just won’t be in the mood and you’ll be left feeling more alone and rejected than before you started.
This is what I mean by your mechanism might not be effective: you might have the right kind of connection in mind, but just have an ineffective way of fulfiling it. If this is the case with you, don’t worry. An ineffective mechanism is the single most common reason people live a less-than-remarkable life (you can read all about how it works here) so you’re not alone. The good news is that you can solve this problem and focussing on the wrong kind of connection at the same time.
How to develop deep, real, and meaningful connections
You know the problem: you’re either targetting an ineffective type of connection and/or have an ineffective mechanism for connecting. Now here’s the solution:
C = L x R1 x R2 x N
That’s right, it’s now an algorithm! Yes, I’ve reduced the seemingly complicated, difficult, and often frustrating process of developing deep and real connections with other people to a simple mathematical formula. And it’s pretty straightforward:
- C represents your level of connection. The higher the percentage, the more connected you feel with 100% and over being optimal
- T represents the type and depth of connection that you’re using to feel connected, represented by a percentage of how connected you feel after using this type to connect through
- R1 represents how real, genuine, and authentic you’re being in that moment with the people you’re attempting to connect with. This is written as a percentage
- R2 represents how real, genuine, and authentic the other people you’re trying to connect are being in that moment. This is also written as a percentage
- N represents the number of connections you have
So, to expand it out, the formula to work out how to overcome loneliness and fulfil your desire to connect with people is: the type and depth of your connection method, multiplied by how real you’re being, multiplied by how real they’re being, multiplied by how many of those connections you have, equals your experience of connection.
Or: C = T x R1 x R2 x N
To show you how this works, let’s start with the example of ineffective connecting covered in the previous section (agreeing to shallow values):
Example 1: Insignificant values
For starters, you’re attempting to develop a psychological connection through an insignificant topic so let’s give the type of connection (T) a score 10% (Yes, I just made that up. Feel free to change it if you wish). Not a good start. Your level of realness and authenticity is incredibly poor so lets give your realness (R1) 10% as well. The other person might be being very real and honest about their thoughts, but their expression is of facts and details rather than personal experiences and emotions so let’s give their realness (R2) 30% and let’s say that one other person agrees with you so the number of people (N) is 3 (the person who made the statement, yourself, and the person who agreed with you).
That means your formula looks like C = 10% (psychological connection on insignificant information) x 10% (your realness) x 30% (their realness) x 3 (people). In this scenario, your level of connection (C) = 0.90%. Now, I’m no maths genius, but that’s a lot less than 100%.
Now, how do you fix this? The answer that most people actually try is by increasing the number of people who agree with them. After all, the more people who agree with them, the greater level of connection they’ll experience. This sounds great in theory until you consider the other numbers in the equation.
Example 2: Increasing the amount of people
Let’s say you’re in a group of 10 people and manage to get everyone to agree with you, what does C work out to be then? 10% (insignificant psychological connection) x 10% (your realness) x 30% (their realness) x 10 (people) = 3.00%. Not really much better. So, what do you do? The obvious answer is to get all 40 people in the cafe to agree with you! That’ll give you 12.00%!
Great in theory, but… You get the idea. Getting more people on your side as you’re using ineffective mechanisms for connection is never going to give you the deep, real, and meaningful connections you desire.
Example 3: Your Core Desires
But what if instead of changing the number of people, you change the type of connection? Instead of developing a psychological connection based on insignificant topics (10%), you changed the type of connection to psychological connection based on real desires. Instead of T=10%, it’s now T=50%. Even if nothing else changed, the result is on the up.
It goes from (T) 10% x (R1) 10% x (R2) 30% x (N) 3 = 0.90% to (T) 50% x (R1) 10% x (R2) 30% x (N) 3 = 4.50%. But, if you change your level of realness and authenticity so that you’re mostly expressing your deep and real self (75%) along with your real desires, things get even better. (T) 50% x (R1) 75% x (R2) 30% x (N) 3 = 33.75%. This is without anyone or anything other than what you can control changing.
Example 4: Their core desires
But what if your honest, real and authentic expression of your desires inspires someone else in the group to honestly and authentically express their desires as well? Things then change to (T) 50% x (R1) 75% x (R2) 75% x (N) 2 = 56.25%. And then what if just one other person agrees? Then you’re at (T) 50% x (R1) 75% x (R2) 75% x (N) 3 = 84.38%!
You don’t need to a whole cafe of people on your side. You don’t need to convince them of something you might not even care about yourself. You just need to honestly and authentically share your desires and find others who have the same desires.
Example 5: Deep and authentic connections
Now, 84.38% is great and definitely a LOT better than 0.90%, but what if you skipped the crap and just cut to the core. What if you attempted to authentically develop a deep and real emotional connection with just one other authentic person? How would that change things? (T) 90% x (R1) 90% x (R2) 90% x (N) 2 = 145.80% That’s as hard as it gets.
How to connect with anyone in less than 30 seconds
Ok, great. You know the problem and the solution, but now comes the tricky part: how do you implement the solution? And not only ‘how’, but how do you do it quickly? After all, being lonely isn’t a great place to be and being able to connect with people is really what you want. So, how?
There are two things you can do, right now. One is a quick-fix solution that will help you develop deep connections with people faster than you ever imagined possible and the other is a longer-term solution that will not only help you develop deep connections but also develop powerful friendships with other like-minded individuals.
Solution 1. The Quick-Fix
One of the biggest challenges in connecting with people is shifting conversations away from discussing of information and shallow beliefs to real and significant personal emotional experiences. Most people aren’t comfortable taking conversations to any real level of depth without usually alcohol and a safe and secure space with people they’ve known for a long time. But, you can overcome this using one simple question:
“And what was that like for you?”
Start your conversation normally asking about their day or weekend or work or whatever and as soon as they mention something they’ve done, simply ask: “And what was that like for you?” Invite them to move beyond facts about their life and activities they’ve done and share their personal experience of those activities and adventures.
If they stall, help them along by asking leading questions:
- “Were you excited?”
- “Were you scared?”
- “Were you relieved?”
If they’re still resistant, lead them even further by sharing something about yourself: “I’ve never done something like that before, but it sounds terrifying/exciting/boring/rewarding. How did you find it?”
If they share, share in return. Talk about something you’ve done where you experienced the same emotional rollercoaster. Identify your commonality and let them experience the connection it by sharing that commonality with them. If they don’t open up, that’s fine. Move on. Not everyone is consciously aware of their personal experiences or feels comfortable expressing them.
This is a simple, fast, and easy way to form connections with people. And if you get good at it, you’ll surprise yourself. You’ll be able to form connections with some people that most assume would take years of knowing someone to develop.
And whilst this is an incredibly powerful tool, it’s really just a band-aid. A powerful and effective band-aid, but still just a band-aid because you’re not filling your life with new people who you naturally connect with without trying. To do that, you need…
Solution 2. Long-Term
Learning to connect with anyone, anywhere is great. It helps you solve a problem as soon as it appears. But the one thing that’s better than being able to solve a problem as soon as it appears is not having to solve it in the first place. In this case, it’s filling your life with like-minded people who you naturally and effortlessly connect with through your shared vision of your ideal life. This means that you don’t need to try and develop new connections with those you meet because your life is filled with powerful, real, and deep connections.
The question is: how? How do you develop a complete and compelling vision of your ideal life? It’s a longer process than can be shared here, but here’s an article that gives you a few simple steps to follow: This is what you should do with your life
It’s got the foundations you need to start to develop your own life vision.
However, if you’re the kind of person who works better with structured guidance and is looking for a custom-built process you can work through to cover all the bases, remove obstacles, and walk out with a complete, compelling, and exciting vision of the life you want, then check out Design Your Destiny.
It’s a 10-day, tested, proven process for developing a deep, powerful, and motivating life plan to help you find and connect with people you naturally and effortlessly connect with.
If you’re ready to start effortlessly building deep and powerful connections with people, check it out here: Design Your Destiny.