A Research Paper By Tina Melson, Life Coach, Living in Indonesia, INDONESIA
The Theory Behind Connections
Easy says the teenager, you need good internet. The business person may mention Linked In or similar networking sites. A Grandmother may mention her local clubs or Zoom/phone calls with family. What would you say?
There so are so many connections that affect every person every day. But some connections are more important than others and others are disconnections.
When sitting down to write my power tools, I came across this disconnected versus connected idea and then started noticing it not only in coaching sessions but in life in general. More importantly, I noticed it in my own life, as the ebb and flow of connection varied regularly. You make connections on so many levels and situations, be it with your family, friends, in your work life, or with your core values or ideas.
To be connected can be easy for some people, but more difficult for others. But there may be stages in all our lives where feeling connected can be an issue and we need to work at creating or maintaining connections. This is not only related to adults but can also be an issue for teens and children.
Through this paper, I want to investigate the theory behind connections or lack of them, and also relate this to real-life situations and examples.
First I want to look at the negative side of connection – the effects of disconnection.
So What Is a Disconnection?
According to Healthline.com, disconnection may stem from an unwillingness or an inability to connect with others. There are two general types. In some cases, you may develop emotional detachment as a response to a difficult or stressful situation. In other cases, it may result from an underlying psychological condition. Healthline, 2022 
Disconnection is linked to the new pandemic of loneliness. Recent research on this subject is showing that subjective loneliness is not caused only by social isolation but is the internal experience of disconnection. It is affecting young and old, married and single people, rich and poor alike from all walks of life. This is often hidden! If not dealt with it can lead to catastrophic consequences to health and even death. Research by Angie LeRoy, a doctoral candidate a the University of Houston, shows that loneliness is a perceptual state that depends more on the quality rather than the quantity of a person’s relationships. People with few friends can feel fulfilled and people with vast social networks can feel empty and disconnected. Latson 2020 
When people feel disconnected, they don’t have the energy to do anything. Everything begins to feel like a chore even the things that someone is passionate about, as the feeling of being overwhelmed can become constant.
Disconnection occurs to varying extents to most people, be it with other people, ourselves, or what is most important to us.
According to Mick Cooper and Rosanne Knox published on sagepub. com, ‘chronic strategies of disconnection are redundant patterns of behavior that we develop to protect ourselves from hurt or anxiety in close relationships.’ 
In our busy lives, these disconnects may go unnoticed for a significant amount of time. The feeling of being overwhelmed, running from one task to the next, and in some cases feeling in survival mode with no time to stop and reflect, can exist for years.
The coaching process can give many people the space to stop and reflect on their daily lives and realize that they have strayed away from their intended path and in some cases are now heading away from their goals. This realization is the first step toward connection.
So What Is It to Be Connected?
When looking at this subject, one might think that talking about business/workplace connections, the answers may be completely different from the way we look at personnel and family connection. But in my literacy search, I find that we follow many of the same steps to become reconnected.
These are some suggestions for connection from louiscarter.com:
‘Be Honest · 2) Be Attentive · 3) Be Empathetic · 4) Be Understanding · 5) Be Emotionally Regulated and level headed · 6) Be Solutions-Oriented,’2021 
Are these not the same things we should be applying to various life situations?
We are complete human beings and the connections in our lives need to be treated as a whole and maybe a delicate balancing act to make sure that we stay connected in all aspects of our lives.
Myself, I can’t see a way forward without balancing all responsibilities in my life. There are expectations from other people and from myself that to some extent need to be met. But what is sometimes more difficult is looking at what is not really important and letting it go.
So What Is Important About Connection?
Here is the definition from the Canadian Mental Health Association:
Social connection ‘can lower anxiety and depression, help us regulate our emotions, lead to higher self-esteem and empathy, and actually improve our immune systems.’ By neglecting our need to connect, we put our health at risk. The reality is that we’re living in a time of true disconnection.2019 
I think I can safely say that most people would like to lower their anxiety levels and find more happiness in life.
So what are the steps to connect and maintain this connection and how can coaching support this process?
Many people come to coaching for the first time without really understanding what is needed to do to make a permanent change but realize that they need support to uncover issues. In entering the coaching space, there is space to be able to reflect on what is important, what is in line with values and goals, and where there are disconnects.
The coach is there to ask powerful questions that will evoke awareness of the issues, be it the disconnects that exist or the connections that are already present but have not been obvious. Once the real situation starts to be uncovered, control is regained, allowing for decisions to be made to align with goals and values.
This is not a process that has a clear finish point, but an ongoing process of reflection and constantly questioning what is important in ever-changing situations and recognizing when there is a need to reconnect to parts of our lives. This is where regular coaching sessions may help to support balance. New disconnects may continue to be uncovered leading to clients questioning their beliefs and making decisions to disregard obsolete beliefs based on inherited or misunderstood values and connect to what is important. This is a journey and the coaching relationship can help clients to remember to enjoy this journey and appreciate the small things as well as the bigger connections.
At times we may feel it is difficult to stay open, vulnerable, and connect. Life is a balancing act at times and we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves, ideally, be able to find joy in the journey and not just focus on the destination.
But not all disconnections are negative! To be able to disconnect from certain situations can be beneficial. How would it feel to be able to disconnect from work?
There’s plenty of evidence to show that disconnecting from work has ‘positive effects on mental and physical health.’ And these effects positively impact work performance and productivity. In fact, recent studies show that a break makes you far more likely to be better at your job when you return. 2022 
There may be other situations that you simply need to disconnect from for a period of time, but by making a conscious decision to do this, you have then regained control over that situation. You can then decide the right time to connect to this situation in a positive solution frame of mind with healthy boundaries.
So back to myself. I can’t see a way forward without balancing all responsibilities in my life. There are expectations from other people and from myself that to some extent need to be met. But what is sometimes more difficult is looking at what is not really important and letting it go. I, along with many other mothers in the world, need to balance home life with work life and somehow find some ‘me’ time. My workload has increased significantly over the past year, due to pandemic recovery issues and a business that needs to be rebuilt. This is new territory and important to so many of the staff who are my extended family. Then there is my family, including my husband, kids, and pets. What is ME time I sometimes ask! The coaching process has made me look at what is important about current situations and has given me tools to take back control of my life situation and reconnect with the important issues. This is an ongoing process and sometimes I revert to the reactive state where my priorities are surpassed by the needs of others.
In coaching sessions with people from all walks of life, I am often seeing this disconnect in the situations that clients are brought into the coaching session.
My role as a coach is to help the client recognize these disconnects and gain the skills to allow them to reconnect with what is truly important to them.