To achieve balance in life, we need the ability to be involved in and be fully connected with our actions and our relationships, and yet, be disconnected to take a meta-perspective, detaching oneself to view the situation from many angles.
The word “connect” has a positive connotation. It is an important way to, physically and emotionally, be with whatever we do and with people around us. The thought of a “disconnect,” on the other hand, may sound negative. However, it’s the ability to disconnect periodically, from actions or relating with people, which enables us to connect internally with ourselves. This enables us to review the situation dispassionately and gives us the power to stay balanced.
In modern understanding of human behaviour too there is a similar approach. Dr. Eric Berne, the originator of a popular psychological theory called Transactional Analysis, espoused autonomy as the goal of life.He explained autonomy as the release or recovery of three capacities in us: Awareness, Spontaneity, and Intimacy.1. Awareness is the capacity to know at any given moment what one’s feelings and thoughts are and how one is impacting and/or being impacted by other people.2. Spontaneity is the capacity to choose and respond to a situation, rather than being foolishly impulsive. It’s very similar to what Dr. Daniel Goleman, wrote about Emotional Intelligence, as the capacity to know when to be angry, why to be angry and how to be angry in any given situation.3. Intimacy is not physical intimacy. It is the ability to genuinely relate with another human being with care and compassion. Intimacy also means that one has the space for difficult conversations with another person.These three capacities allow us to be objective and be an ‘observer’ in any given situation. Objectivity helps in exercising our sense of reasoning and logical thinking. It helps us to be in the here and now and not regret the past or worry about the future.Becoming an observer requires one to disconnect temporarily and view the situation in a dispassionate way. It also helps one to relook at the situation and make an unbiased judgement.READ RELATED: Thoughts about Thinking: How to Worry Less by Developing ‘Metacognitive Awareness
The following episode in Mahatma Gandhi’s life is a good example.
In 1893, during a train trip to Pretoria, South Africa, a white man objected to Gandhi’s presence in the first-class railway compartment, although he had a ticket. Refusing to move to the back of the train, Gandhi was forcibly removed and thrown off the train at a station in Pietermaritzburg. His act of civil disobedience awoke in him a determination to devote himself to fighting the “deep disease of color prejudice.” He vowed that night to “try, if possible, to root out the disease and suffer hardships in the process.” From that night onwards, he became a giant force for civil rights.Gandhi, in this example, was able to step back from his experience of humiliation, look at the larger picture and go to the root of the problem. In a sense, he disconnected from falling prey to negative thoughts and feelings and acted with purpose and direction.
Disconnect to Connect Back with Life
Many of us probably do disconnect temporarily to take charge of situations, sometimes consciously and sometimes very intuitively. Any practice that needs to be sustained and consistent requires conscious and concerted effort.
When to Disconnect:
When you are feeling overwhelmed in a situation or in a relationship.
When you are feeling stuck and not able to move on.
When you are getting into repeated conflicting situations.
When you feel that nothing is working or going right.
Ways to Disconnect:
Take deep breaths, and bring awareness to thoughts and feelings in the here and now.
Take a step back and reflect on what’s happening. Use your reasoning abilities to test reality and look at all of the options.
The age old saying of ‘sleep over it’ works very well.
Physically remove yourself from the situation, if need be.
So go on and disconnect, step back and reflect before reacting!
About Guest Author, Ragini RaoA post graduate in Psychology from Delhi University, Ragini is a Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst (TSTA), certified by International Transactional Analysis Association (ITAA). She has over 22 years of experience as a counselor, trainer and therapist.Ragini runs advanced training groups in Transactional Analysis to train individuals to become certified Transactional Analysts. She has conducted Transactional Analysis-based programs across India as well as in Singapore and Bangladesh.Her corporate training programs focus on personal transformation of the individual, providing a strong sense of self awareness and developing a confident and positive approach in dealing with professional and personal relationships.Ragini is also qualified as a Licensed Workshop Leader for the “Heal Your Life” Workshops based on the self healing philosophy of the international author and metaphysical teacher Louise L. Hay. She has clocked over 5000 hours as a consulting psychotherapist to individual clients in Kolkata and Bangalore.