2. Your Connector Part and the Four Ways to Connect

Your Connector Part is the part of you which prefers a strong sense of belonging and relationship. This part of you loves “just being together.” It loves company. It loves free flowing fun with others. This part is happiest with nearly any activity that allows you to be a part of the group. Even if the connection is just between different parts of you, this part is happy. When the connection is with your spirituality or your Higher Power, this part is pleased and fulfilled.

Our goal is to expand your understanding about how you might be connecting and invite you to think about how you might expand and improve those connections.

We want to share four different ways that people tend to connect. You have probably tried all these ways. But you have probably discovered that some ways feel great while others carry some kind of baggage. We know from science that people inherit different connection styles from their parents. We also know that life can sweeten or sour any experience for us. So we can lose our appetite for some kinds of connection. Or we have to handle the “bad ones” with a large pinch of salt.

 

The Four Ways to Connect are:

Releasing: This way of connecting is all about jumping into the river of life, as opposed to standing on the shoreline just watching or thinking or planning. Your Releasing part prefers the steep rapids as the best way to be alive. It loves the deep intensity of connecting with others. Lots of emotions. Lots of intimacy. Lots of fun. But this can get addictive, making anything else seem kind of boring. Or it can turn into troublesome drama. We see examples of this kind of connection in the media as exuberant, explosive, depressive, passionate people. Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, Andy Dwyer (played by Chris Pratt) in Parks and Rec, Deloris Wilson (played by Whoopi Goldberg) in Sister Act are a few examples of connectors who throw themselves emotionally into both connection and heartbreak.

Yielding: This way of connecting is very different. It’s about being bonded with those who suffer. This part is willing to shoulder a difficult burden together with others. We all feel this part come forward in a natural disaster, when we want to jump in, join the struggle and help the survivors. And this is a powerful way to connect. But it’s loyalty can get us stuck in a connection that no longer serves us. Then we become bitter and reactive. We can all name someone who just keeps enduring situations that are unbearable. They could make changes, but they might lose a valued connection and that seems to matter more than their happiness or their freedom. They are the ones who stay in an abusive relationship. But they are also the parent who stays by the side of a disabled child, or the child who cares for an aging parent with mental illness. We wish they could get out of the pain and live well, but they choose to stay connected in that way. They are like John Coffey (played by Michael Clarke Duncan) in The Green Mile, Precious (played by Gabourey Sidibe) in Precious and Charlie Brown in Peanuts. These are all examples of people who love painfully and stay with the people they love even sometimes at great personal cost.

Relying: This part of you will show vulnerability as a way of allowing others to connect with you by helping you. This Relying energy can get a group of people to help create something as simple as a meal and feel good about creating all the connection. It is willing to be the follower as a way to connect with the leaders and the other followers. It’s a complete “team player.” But it can sacrifice too much of itself and overlook its own potential. All children must use this way of connecting because they aren’t big enough to rival the adults. But as we grow into adults, we often leave this way of connecting behind, because we don’t want to be “babies” any more. So we can be threatened by intimacy if it asks us to be small relative to someone else. Some stories with characters who trust and need others: Peeta Mellark and Primrose Everdeen in The Hunger Games, Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings with and Chris Gardner (played by Will Smith) in The Pursuit of Happiness.

Fostering: This part of you loves to find ways to support people in their growth as a way to feel connected with them. This is a natural extension of our parenting instincts. This part really cares about seeing the best in others and helping them get to the best they can be. This way of connecting is more about being the big one, the big helper. It’s not so much about being small. In fact, this part can get so involved in doing supportive things that it neglects getting help for itself. It can lose its ability to let in some help, even when it is offered. So another label for this energy is Caretaking. Some characters who show us Fostering are Fred Rogers in Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, George Bailey (played by James Stewart) in It’s a Wonderful Life, and Leah Ann Tuohy (played by Sandra Bullock) in The Blind Side.

Do you recognize yourself in these descriptions? Does one describe you best? Do others make you uncomfortable or bring up judgement in you?

The truth is, all four of these ways to connect can be helpful in your life, depending on the situation or person in front of you. Each type of connection has strengths and benefits as well as downsides and pitfalls.

We believe that the more you understand these patterns, the more power you have to create your connections with intention. You can get better at using any of the four to do your own healing and integration work, or to connect with others in meaningful ways or even to connect with your Higher Power better. We have found some great tools for working with these patterns.

Right now, Connection Gateways is working to connect with people who want to become more complete connectors. If that is you, please contact us to learn more about what we have to offer, and the community we are forming.

 

Please watch a video we created about the Four Ways To Connect:

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