We humans live for connection. What is a life, if it is lived alone? Touch and belonging are two of the deepest needs we have. Without these things, babies and children wither and die. As adults, certainly, our need for connection to others is undeniable. Recently, an experience with a co-worker reminded me of how lucky I am to be in a place where we enjoy and care for the other humans we work alongside.
This one evening, I experienced something beautiful.
I was chatting with a co-worker in our clinic after all our clients had left. She was rubbing her jaw as we spoke and I could tell she was in pain.
Being a bodyworker, I sat her in a chair as we spoke and put my hands on her shoulders. I gently started to feel the knots she carried. I leaned into her as I let my fingers sink into her shoulders and press at her pain. We stopped talking.
I felt her soften. She started to cry. Quietly she sobbed, and her tears fell.
I know this woman. We see each other a couple of times a week and, in passing, I have heard of her difficulties. She is open about her life challenges, but she is strong and gracious, holding them closely to herself, never wishing to burden anyone else with her pain. Tonight, though, she let me hold it with her, just for a moment.
I have come away from this exchange with a beautiful feeling of sentimentality for the humanness of us all. We work hard, most of us, 30-something hours each week on average. Sometimes we are lucky enough to do this with a group of people whom we enjoy. Some of us are not so lucky. Often we do it surrounded by people we tolerate. Or with a sprinkling of people we dislike. Or alone.
In my workplace, we are fortunate. We are a small group of healers working together at the business of getting people well. In order to do this work, most of us have traversed our own path of healing and this has left us with a taste of what it is to be challenged in life, and a sensitivity to the pain of others. A quiet moment of care between myself and my co-worker is not an unusual thing in our practice. I am saddened, though, to know it is not the norm in the workplaces of my friends, my family, my clients.
As a bodyworker, I know first-hand the way trauma, anxiety and stress are stored in the body. Physical, emotional, behavioral… our challenges influence our bodies and our minds and they are manifest in how we act toward ourselves and one other.
What if we found ways to be kind, generous and loving toward the people we interact with at work? What if we crossed professional ‘boundaries’ (what the heck is with that, anyway?) to show those around us that we are human, and with that, we welcome their humanness too?
Here are just a few ways we do this in our practice:
Sharing songs on a Spotify playlist with one another and telling the others why we love these songs, sometimes we find there’s fun or touching memories that are evoked by the songs we each play. Sometimes it helps us share snippets of who we are outside our work persona.
Coming in a few minutes early to make a delicious breakfast for everyone who is at work early (usually just a bit of porridge and coconut yoghurt, yum! Even those who aren’t hungry get their bellies filled with love!
Molly, our practice dog, comes every day to grace our floor with her presence (and her hair), and she’s always kind to everyone
Sharing our gifts… Bringing a piece of artwork we are working on (or photos of it), practicing a song we are learning to sing or play, chatting about an event we are involved in planning in our community… And we are constantly finding that the celebration of talents in one of us inspires others to dig deeper into theirs…
If you are fortunate enough to have co-workers that satisfy your need for connection, treasure them. I invite you to gently poke into the corners of those connections, and find what more you can offer in the relationships that already exist in your workplace. Perhaps your days will become more meaningful and your soul will be a little bit (or a lot) happier for it.
If your days at work are lonely, or difficult because you’re not experiencing connection, this can be frustrating and isolating.
Don’t lose heart – there are things you can do to begin to find more humanness in your workplace. You could try injecting a little of it yourself by showing more of ‘the real you’ to your co-workers, and asking for the same in return. Or, you could open a frank discussion with your colleagues and managers about how wonderful it would be if you were able to connect in a meaningful way at work – you’re likely to find that they’re receptive to building stronger connections. After all connection fills our happiness bucket and builds productivity.
But, if your workplace really is a lost cause (we know there are some like this, sadly), it’s worth considering moving on. Your sense of yourself is deeply rooted in connection with others (and the other way around, too).
It’s an important part of life to feel cared for. If this is not what’s happening for you most of the time in your workplace, find a new workplace! Good humans are out there!
As for us, my colleague and I left for the evening with a long hug, a couple of “I Love You’s” as we worked out the door and a better understanding of one another. It’s 3am and I’m awake writing this, I can’t sleep for thinking how fortunate we are, that even time spent at work is a blessing in my life and the lives of those around me. I wish it for you, too. x