Do you sometimes keep trying to connect with someone who is unavailable? Do you believe that you need to be connected with others in order to feel validated and connected with yourself? Do you have a connection addiction? Connection with others is vital for all of us, but when we disconnect from ourselves to avoid pain, we lose the possibility of connecting with others.
Last week’s podcast was on connection with yourself, others, and your spiritual guidance, which is a deep desire for most of us. Today, I want to talk about addiction to connection.
My client Sue Ann asked:
“I keep texting my ex, sometimes every other week. He does not reply but I have the need to connect with him. This need for connection is a very prominent part of my life. Is this an addiction? What can I do?”
Of course Sue Ann has a need to connect. We all have a need to connect with others, but the problem is that she first needs to connect with herself. The fact that she keeps trying to connect with her ex even though he doesn’t reply indicates that she isn’t connecting with herself and her guidance, and that she is operating from an addiction to connection.
It is not loving to her inner child to keep trying to connect with someone who doesn’t respond to her, rather than connecting with herself and taking responsibility for her own feelings. She’s rejecting herself every time she reached out to her ex.
Here is an example of someone who was deeply addicted to connection, and to having control over getting that connection.
Jessica sat in front of me at a 5-day Inner Bonding Intensive, tears brimming in her eyes.
“I came here to do some healing work, but I don’t know where to start or what to say.”
“Jessica, what are you feeling right now? “I gently asked her. “Go inside and see what the feelings are. What are the tears about?”
“I just feel so scared.”
“What are you scared of?”
“I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I am afraid you are not going to like me.”
“It sounds like are so worried about whether or not I will like you or whether or not I will judge you that you just feel stuck, is that right?”
“Yes, I feel stuck. I don’t know what to say, and I think I am making a fool out of myself.”
I took Jessica’s hands. “Please take a deep breath. Close your eyes and move your focus into your body. Right now your inner little girl feels very abandoned by you because you are so worried about what I think about you. I want you to tune into why what I think about you is so important to you.”
“I know why it is important. It’s because I want to connect with you. I like you and I want to connect with you.”
“Jessica, I’d be happy to connect with you. But how can I connect with you when you are not connected with yourself? Why do you believe that connecting with me is more important than connecting with yourself?”
“I think that if you like me and connect with me, then I will be okay and I can connect with myself.”
“So you don’t think that you are okay unless I connect with you?”
“Jessica, right now you are abandoning yourself by handing me your inner child and making me responsible for validating you. Even if I could connect with you when you are disconnected from yourself, what good would it do when you are abandoning yourself? Let’s try something. Imagine connecting with your inner little girl the way you want me to connect with you. Smile at her, hold her, see her, give her approval, accept her. Imagine while you are holding her that your higher guidance is holding you and cherishing you. Imagine that you can see the love, appreciation, kindness, approval and acceptance in the eyes of your guidance, and bring all that down into your inner child, just like you do with your actual children. Try it and see what happens.”
Jessica picked up her doll and held her. She imagined her little girl inside who so needed her love. Her face softened as she opened to bringing love through from spirit to her inner child. We could all see and feel that Jessica was feeling connected with her guidance and her inner child.
After a few minutes, she looked up at me, no longer frightened and needy. Our eyes met and we connected, smiling at each other, then hugging each other.
Jessica realized in the Intensive that she had been addicted to connection – to having connection with others as a way to feel validated and filled. She had spent her life trying to do things “right” so that she could have control over that connection, and all it had brought her was the emptiness of inner abandonment. She discovered that she didn’t have to work hard to have connection with others – it happened naturally when she was connected with herself.
Instead of focusing on saying the right thing and acting right, Jessica started practicing Inner Bonding – focusing on her inner connection with herself and her guidance. Gradually, she found herself able to effortlessly connect with others.
When you feel the need to connect with another person, go inside, open to learning, and ask your inner child how you are abandoning yourself. Are you staying focused in your head, rather than in your body – ignoring your feelings? Are you judging yourself? Are you turning to any substances or activities to avoid feeling and taking responsibility for your feelings? Are you telling yourself that you cannot manage the pain of the loneliness and heartache, so you need to try to connect with another?
Imagine you have an actual child who is feeling sad, hurt, alone, lonely, anxious or depressed. This child needs your caring, understanding, kindness, compassion, and undivided attention. Your inner child needs you to connect with him or her to feel loved and safe enough to feel and release painful feelings. Your inner child needs you to hold him or her and give comfort with much gentleness and tenderness. If instead, you were to tell your inner child to go to someone else who, like Sue Ann did with her ex who was actually unavailable for connection, he or she would feel even worse, because now your inner child is being abandoned by you.
This is what is what was happening inside with Sue Ann’s inner child. By texting her ex, who was not available to comfort her and connect with her. She was actually creating even more distress.
Once you understand how you are abandoning yourself, open to learning with your spiritual guidance, and ask, “What does my inner child need from me right now to feel calmer and safer?”
Your guidance might offer ideas of loving actions, such as:
“Pick up a doll, stuffed animal or pillow and hold him or her the way you would hold a child you dearly love. Let your inner child know that he or she is not alone, that you are here, and guidance is here.”
“Look at a photo of you as a child and notice what is wonderful and lovable about you, telling your inner child out loud how precious she or he is.”
“Pray or meditate to get more connected with yourself and with your guidance.”
“Call a friend who might be available to help you connect with yourself, or attend a 12-Step meeting.”
“Do something that is fun for you to do – something you love to do.”
“Take a walk in nature and do some Inner Bonding dialoguing.”
“Do some journaling to understand what your inner child needs from you right now.”
There are many things your guidance might say to you to help you connect with yourself. The point is that when you are more connected with yourself, you will naturally let go of texting or calling or emailing or stalking on social media someone who is not available for connection. Once you connect with yourself and your guidance, then you can reach out to others who are available for connection.
I hope you begin to understand that there is just one cause of alienation and division within yourself, which is self-abandonment.
To understand more about self-abandonment, let’s take an analogy. Let’s say you have a small child who comes to you upset or crying. There are four major ways you can abandon this child:
- You stay distracted in your mind rather than become present in your heart.
If you stay distracted in your left-brain thoughts, rather than getting with the child and being present in your heart with caring and kindness, the child will feel unloved, unimportant and abandoned – and maybe angry.
This is what you might be doing with yourself – staying in your left-brain mind rather being present in your heart, avoiding your feelings rather than compassionately attending to them. This is one form of self-abandonment.
- Another is that You judge the child.
If you judge the child, saying things like, “What’s the matter with you? It’s no big deal; I’ll give you something to cry about,” the child will feel unloved, shamed and abandoned.
This is what you may be doing to yourself – judging yourself for your feelings, rather than compassionately attending to them. You will likely feel alone, depressed, anxious, and shamed when you treat yourself this way.
- Or, you turn to various addictions.
If you turn to various addictions – grabbing a drink, a cigarette, food, turning on the TV or the computer – the child will feel alone, ignored, and abandoned.
When you turn to addictions, rather than attend to your own feelings with a desire to learn and take responsibility for them, you will likewise feel alone and abandoned.
- Or, you try to get others to take care of the child.
If you take the child by the hand and go from neighbor to neighbor, saying, “This child is upset. Will you deal with him or her? I don’t want to,” the child will feel deeply unloved, unimportant, rejected and abandoned by you.
Do you do this with your own feelings? Do you make others responsible for making you feel safe, secure, worthy, and happy? Do you spend a lot of energy trying to have control over getting others to love you, rather than learning to love yourself? If you do, you will likely feel anxious, alone, depressed, angry, and disconnected.
Think about your parents or caregivers. Did they role-model loving themselves or abandoning themselves? If they abandoned themselves, then where would you have learned to love yourself? You might know you need to love yourself, and even want to love yourself, but do you know HOW?
Inner Bonding is a compete process for learning how to stop abandoning yourself and start learning how to love yourself. It gives you all the tools you need to stop being alienated from yourself and start being intimate and connected with yourself. It develops your ability to tap into the profound role-modeling from spirit which is available to all of us, and which develops your ability to take responsibility for your own feelings.
When you learn how to be intimate and connected with yourself, your anxiety, depression, emptiness, anger, addictions, and relationships will heal. Then you can be intimate and connected with others and experience the joy and aliveness that life has to offer.
Being disconnected from yourself creates the loneliness and heartbreak of relationship disconnection.
Mia and I were having a Zoom session.
“My supervisor is almost always angry at me,” Mia said. “I got along so well with my previous supervisor but I can’t seem to do anything right enough for this woman. I don’t know what the problem is, but I think maybe I’m really messing up. I used to think I was doing a good job, but now I’m not so sure.”
“Mia, there must be a good reason you are shaming and blaming yourself for this situation. What would you be feeling if you didn’t judge yourself?”
Mia thought for a minute and then quietly said, “Lonely… and my heart hurts.”
I asked her to tell me more about those feelings.
“I can’t connect with her because she is so closed, and whenever I can’t connect with someone, I feel lonely and my heart hurts. But I think there is something wrong with me for feeling this way.”
“So you would rather shame and blame yourself than trust your feelings of loneliness and heartache?”
“Oh!…You know, I think I’ve been doing this most of my life! I think I do the same thing with my husband.”
“How does your inner little girl feel when you shame and blame her rather than compassionately embrace and learn from her loneliness and heartache?”
“She feels alone and unimportant and bad about herself.”
“Mia, right how, open to your guidance and invite in compassion for the loneliness and heartache you feel when you can’t connect with someone. Be very kind and caring with your little girl. She has very good reasons for feeling lonely. Let her know that there is nothing wrong with her for her feelings, and that you are grateful to her for letting you know, with her loneliness and heartache, when someone is closed and uncaring. Can you do this?”
“Yes! And it feels so much better – such a relief!”
We all learned to use shaming, blaming, anger, or withdrawal to protect against the loneliness and heartbreak of disconnection.
It is very important to validate for yourself how painful it is when you can’t connect with someone, especially someone important to you. But when you shame and blame yourself and distrust your own feelings, you disconnect from yourself, creating emptiness, aloneness, and feelings of rejection and abandonment inside.
As I spoke about last week, authentic heart-connection with another is one of the most joyous experiences in life. This heart-connection with parents or caregivers is vital for children to thrive. But,too often, we didn’t experience the level of connection we needed to thrive, and we learned to shame ourselves rather than feel the profound loneliness and heartbreak of this lack of connection. We move into adulthood seeking the connection that we lacked as children, hoping a partner or someone will fill our vital need for connection.
Now, as adults, we need to connect with our true soul self – our essence – and with our spiritual source before we can authentically connect with another.
And, it is only when we do connect with self and source that we can learn to manage the pain of disconnection with others without disconnecting from ourselves with our self-abandoning behavior.
If you continue to feel badly about yourself, you might want to notice how often you shame yourself to protect against your feelings of loneliness, heartache and heartbreak, as well as over the very painful feeling of helplessness over others who are closed to connection with us.
You might want to start to notice that continuing to shame yourself creates the inner disconnection that leaves you feeling so empty and abandoned, and can lead to an addiction to connection and to trying to control getting the connection. You might want to try embracing your loneliness, heartache and helplessness with deep kindness toward yourself, and then notice how you feel. I guarantee you that you will start to feel much better about yourself, and you will find it easier to connect with others when you are willing to embrace your authentic feelings rather than continue to shame yourself.
So, it’s learning how to love yourself that creates loving connection with others, and heals an addiction to connection.
It’s time to stop avoiding feeling your painful feelings, which means learning to love yourself by opening to the incredible information all of your feelings have for you. You cannot begin to imagine how much better life gets when you learn to love yourself and lovingly attend to your feelings, rather than abandon them. This is what reconnects you within, and with your higher self, which then leads to being able to experience loving heart-to-heart authentic connection with others – and this is what life is all about!
The one thing that dying people regret the most is not having connected more with loved ones. Don’t wait until it’s too late to make loving connection with others a very high priority in your life.
You can find many resources for learning to love yourself at https://www.innerbonding.com
Learn to connect with your spiritual Guidance with Unlocking Your Inner Wisdom, A 30-Day at-home Experience with Dr. Margaret Paul.
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: “Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships.”