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Humans Are Hardwired for Connection

As I hear people relating racism, poverty, and class issues to climate change, I can see that we have a big opportunity to unite on a large scale around a single issue that all of our lives depend upon. I’ve also noticed that the people who get things done know how to connect well with others. It has seemed to me that we have to break many barriers to work together worldwide to solve climate change and that connection is at the heart of it. Nice theory. So I took the challenge to lead a six-week segment of our ongoing Co-Counseling class on the topic of connection.

Reaching for connection is a huge challenge for me, so restimulation came at me fast and hard, convincing me there was no way I could do it and that I was not at all prepared. But I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and went ahead anyway.

In the class I started by talking about how we needed to connect to ourselves before we could reach out and connect to others. I had us try to show ourselves as fully as possible. I wanted us to give each other something concrete to relate to. When we were sharing “news and goods,” I had us notice that the group was paying attention to us. Even this was challenging. Most of us wanted to go somewhere inside ourselves and talk from there. Although we had known each other for a long time, we were not able to break through to a deep level of connection.

In the third class I invited people to take a turn looking at the person next to them, touching that person anywhere but on the hand, and saying that person’s name. (I was trying to get us to function outside of the RC safe place of holding hands.) It was hard for people to do, and many of the women got restimulated about not having control of where someone was going to touch them. I teach the Alexander Technique, which means that I have touched human bodies for the past thirty-plus years. So I guess I underestimated the challenge I had put forth. But the class is committed to following my lead, so we carried on.

By the fourth class I was struggling with where to go next, when a piece of theory came to me: We are hardwired [innately predisposed] to connect and be close to other humans. We have to be, if we want our parents in spite of how they often treat us. Our children want us in spite of our terrible mistakes. We keep seeking partners in life no matter how many times things just don’t work out. I want to be closer to everyone in my life; I don’t seem to know how, but I want it, so I keep on trying.

In the fourth class I presented this theory and invited each person to have some time with me on a mat. I said that I was comfortable with their touching me in any way they chose in an attempt to connect to me. I explained that we were not “wrestling”; we were making contact in whatever way they figured out. The sessions were profound. At the end of the class I felt relaxed and connected—not like I had just worked really hard.

That humans are hardwired to be close to other humans seems obvious, yet there was something about doing things in that context that moved us toward connection. We worked hard in the six weeks. No one was coasting. We were uncomfortable, stretching in each other’s direction, awkward, and noticing how alone we all were even in the comfortable company of our Co-Counselors. I felt like I was groping in the dark, never knowing what next step to take. It was excruciating and exhilarating to reach that hard for my fellow humans. We made a small dent in our isolation patterns, which I hope we can eventually crack wide open.

Elizabeth Huebner

Willimantic, Connecticut, USA

Reprinted from the e-mail discussion list for RC Community members

(Present Time 186, January 2017)

Last modified: 2020-07-17 20:50:52+00