I had the honor of speaking at FORM Festival this past weekend.
(Gallery of photos I took at the bottom of this page)
An excerpt from a journal entry I wrote while taking a break from Day 2 of FORM Festival:
“Whoah. I did not expect to feel so connected to people, art, and wellness like this. I’m feeling amped, excited, loved, and seen. Everyone from the staff to the security to the participants are so fucking kind.
I’ve already had several yummy, filling, deep, and powerful conversations with strangers. This is the festival of my dreams...”
Who else do you know describes conversations as “yummy” and “filling”? Lol
There are quotes like these all over the buildings.
That morning, I woke up with the bright, warm Arizona sun heating my tent up to suana-like temperatures and the songs of morning groans, stretches, and laughter. I did yoga with Equinox, got a breakfast pizza, filled my thermos with Four Sigmatic mushroom coffee, and filled the first half of my day listening to talks and feeding my heart with good conversation.
I used the words “yummy” and “filling” because deep conversations nourish me. Connecting with people feeds my soul, it makes me feel love, empathy, and compassion. And I’m good at it.
I continued in my journal and reflected on why I think I connect well with people. And I came up with this: I take vulnerable risks and I practicing emotional safety.
I’m able to have these conversations because I practice taking vulnerable risks. And that comes in the form of a question or sharing a piece of my story.
I ask questions like, “How did that make you feel?”, “What’s important about that?”, or “Did you feel hurt?”
I also practice emotional safety.
“Don’t connect with me! Don’t come near me.”
Emotional safety is the ability to be open and vulnerable with people without feeling threatened or unsafe and without people feeling threatened and unsafe with you. When we have emotional safety, we feel more connected and loved.
I tend to find myself having these conversations with people often. It’s a strength of mine. And I attribute part of that to how I carry myself in the world.
A man meditates on a cliff while the sun sets.
When I physically walk in my environment, I share my love with people through my body language.
My chest is open and my shoulders are relaxed.
My chin is on the same plane as the horizon.
My eyes meet others’ eyes.
My hands are to my sides and open.
My walk is calm and flowing.
And my face is relaxed--eyes open, eyebrows and the corners of my lips slightly raised, and there isn’t any tension in my forehead.
I am approachable and warm.
People would probably feel unsafe with me if I did the opposite.
My chest closed and shoulders tense.
My chin to my chest.
My eyes down to the ground.
My hands in my pockets or clinched.
My walk aggressive.
And my face tense--eyes partly open, eyebrows and the corners of my lips slightly down, and tension in my forehead.
This body language says to me, “Don’t connect with me! Don’t come near me.”
When I spoke in front of 150+ people at our talk, I made sure that my body language didn’t scream DANGER!
I know that people crave connection and deep, healthy relationships. I know that this is a human need.
The sun sets on Day 3 of FORM.
I'm a men's coach because I see so many men struggling.
And I see so many men struggle with how they carry themselves in the world.
I see men puff their chest and exude bravado and overconfidence.
I see men hunk their shoulders down and bleed cowardice.
I see men walk with anger and aggression.
I see men take up too much space. And men who let their space be taken up.
I see men completely unaware of what their bodies are telling the world.
This unawareness could be the wall between men and connection.
The mirror is a powerful feedback tool.
Imagine a mirror following you as you walk about your day.
See yourself in that reflection.
What do you see? What words do you use to describe your body language? What are your shoulders and chest doing? What is the pace of your walk like? Have you noticed your hands? What about eye contact? Are you looking people in the face? And your smile, is it there?
If you want to go deeper with this, take a risk and ask a few friends what their first impressions of you were. And ask them why?
First impressions are important for successful, new relationships. These judgements of you are others’ perspectives and they may not be yours. You have the choice to take it or leave it. I will say that their perspective is their reality and their truth. And if you find that that’s the reality and truth for another person, it’s probably time to look at that mirror, take an honest assessment, and make some changes.
We all want connection. We need it to survive.
If you’re having trouble developing healthy relationships, try practicing emotional safety:
Listen and let people share.
Ask deep, honest questions.
Share your story.
Present safe body language.
A coach of mine always told me, “if you want to be the most interesting person in the room, be the most interested.”
I left FORM feeling loved and connected. If you are curious about surrounding yourself with music, artists, creatives, and loving people--go to FORM next year. They have a huge emphasis on art and wellness. And it is spectacular.
And if you’re curious about developing healthier relationships, book a free 1-on-1 call with me. I’d love to chat and see if we could help you out.