The internet is all a buzz lately of new and different self-help concepts. The current advice is, “Just show up.” “Be present”. This seems fairly straightforward, and physically speaking, it is. You head off to a specified location. You arrive. You acknowledge to others that you are there. Emotional presence, however, is a completely different animal. In a world of disconnection and autopilot, showing up in ways other than the physical is more complex. Connection is about people after all. We are wired to connect with other human beings, and to interact within our environment.
In today’s world, we find reasons to disconnect. Technology has made it easier to ‘pull the plug’ from meaningful connection by making information more accessible virtually. We have the internet, smartphones, and computers designed to be compact and easier to transport such as tablets and laptops. On the surface (and in the moment) our lives may seem easier, because we have all we think we need, literally at our fingertips. The question is, how does this help us connect in the way we were designed to? We can access information. We can work from anywhere. We can send messages to people across thousands of miles. Physically speaking, we have in fact, shown up. But emotionally are we there, really?
In an age of technology, we hide behind a screen. This helps us to remain anonymous for the most part, and anonymity breeds disconnection. On a social level, it makes us inauthentic. We no longer have to take responsibility for our words. We can say what we want without much fear of the consequences, and we can treat people in ways that we would never treat them if we were connected on an emotional level. This creates an aura of mistrust, because we want to feel valued and respected. The disconnection we have essentially created within our own environment has made us afraid to connect on a personal level with others, for fear of rejection.
We make assumptions in life, both in connection as well as in disconnection. In person, we can assess body language, tone of voice, and eye contact. We can feel emotions that are connected to being in close proximity to someone. We can relax and enjoy the moment, and we can experience our senses with others who are also experiencing us. In all practicality, we can slow down and live in the moment.
Maybe we have passed the age of connection, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to stop connecting with each other. Perhaps it is more of an effort, but we can still “show up” for the people that exist in our lives. Mindfulness can help with this by allowing us to stop and smell the roses. Awareness that we are existing too much in our heads can bring us outside of ourselves, helping us to pay attention to our surroundings. It starts with authenticity and honesty from within: Where am I? What am I doing? What am I feeling? What am I thinking? Because, if we cannot be honest with ourselves in regard to our own presence, how can we hope to make an honest connection with other people?
It is important for all of us to be who we are, and not who others may want us to be. We may fear that by showing ourselves to the world, we will be rejected and criticized, but what if we are not? Being authentic and showing up exactly as we are can actually have the opposite effect – by being honest with ourselves, we become more trustworthy to other people, because we are no longer hiding behind a mask that may not be genuine. Honesty breeds connection, and connection brings all of us back together as an integral species – it helps us to “show up” emotionally. And that makes us present in the here and now.