Relationships - Problems 

How to build a genuine connection with another person  

Margarete van den Brink

Living and working together seems to get ever harder these days. Before we are even aware of it, misunderstandings or conflicts arise. Nowadays, one in three marriages end in divorce. In partner relationships this number is even higher. When you ask the persons involved why they have separated, they say: “We cannot reach each other” or “We do not understand each other”. The gap between them seems so large that a sense of connection has been lost and they don't know how to bridge that gap.

Why is contact between people so problematic today?

The reason is that we human beings, in terms of evolution, have entered a new phase of development. Not only as individuals, but also in the development of humankind on the earth. This development of humankind and of the individual goes in stages and in each of these stages the relationship between people change. Each different stage requires a different way of relating and behaving towards one another.

How has this occurred?

Group phase

Not long ago, the problems we face today were not that compelling. In the times of our grandparents and beyond, people made contact more easily and felt naturally, almost automatically, connected with each other.

The reason is that they weren't as individualised as we are today. At that time people were much more people of the group/the tribe/the clan. That means, they were inwardly strongly connected with the members of the group they belonged to: their own family, their own religion group, the village community, etc.

As their own individual consciousness, their I-consciousness, was not that awake yet, they were strongly determined by the traditional thinking, values and norms of the group they belonged to. The way others thought about things determined the way the individual thought.


In the sixties of the last century in particular, the situation slowly changed. The name of your family, the question: “what family do you belong to?” and your father's occupation were no longer important, but your own name: “Lynn” or “John”, was. This shows that the personal element came into play. In the history of human evolution the individual or ones own I-conciousness came to the fore.

I-development makes people experience themselves as an individual, as a person on their own, in their own right, who can maintain themself apart from the family group and who is able to shape their own life.

This development meant that personal thinking, personal feelings and a personal will and actions started to play a central role. People became more independent. They formed their own opinions, have their own points of view, experience things differently than others and above all, want to be free. That means they want to make choices by themselves and take responsibility for what they do.

Far-reaching changes

In the area of social relationships, the I-development brought about drastic changes. The first change was that the individual person became more enclosed in themselves, more insular. Their thinking and feeling were no longer automatically like those of others. One came to live more and more in ones own imaginations, opinions, expectations, feelings and actions.

The second change was that due to becoming more insular, individuals became more separated/ isolated from other people, including the people of their own group, family, tribe or clan.

As a consequence of these changes, the connection between people and their understanding of each other, was no longer a matter of course. On the contrary, the process of individualization made the gap between one and the other grow exponentially.


When we talk about “I-development” we first have to look at the ‘ego-I'. The ego-I is the part of the I that is fully focused on ones self alone. We need this ego-I to become an individual in our own right. For the development of the individual, becoming an individual in the ‘ego-I' sense, is a prerequisite for the “I” to then become the bearer of the inner spirit, the spiritual self, our true being. Also called the ‘higher I' or ‘spirit self.'

Hence this process of individualisation, of becoming an I-person in ones own right, plays an important role in the present stage of our human evolution.


In order for this ego-I to reach its goal in the process of individualisation, it will favour selfish behaviour above pro-social behaviour. As an ego-I-person you want to receive and take – you want to have! You are constantly the centre of your own attention. For you, the world is built around you and your feelings, perceptions, requirements, opinions, wishes etc. and about what you want and what you want to achieve.

Anyone observing oneself openly and honestly, will recognise this.

Spirit Self

Along with the gradually increasing manifestation of the ego-I during the nineteen sixties, something else also presented itself. Another new evolutionary stage seemed to emerge. This new phase implied that within the I – that is in the personality-I of which the ego-I is a part – the spirit self wants to be born. The spirit self is our spiritual core, our true and deepest being.

Characteristics of the spirit-self are: all-embracing consciousness, morality, truthfulness, justice, engagement with all living things, freedom and love. These characteristics

show the divine nature of our inner being. The spirit self ís divine because it is part of the Holy Spirit. That is why, as an active, divine power with an all-embracing consciousness, she can make us free from our egoism ánd through her nature create new connections between people.

I use the word “can” because we human beings do not ‘own' this divine power fully yet.

She lives in us and works in us with all her possibilities, but we have to make her grow in us step by step by working on ourselves and our relationships with others.

We are all fully engaged with this task in our time.


As a result of all these changes and new developments, but mainly through the awakening of our inner spiritual self, people are pushed into an existential crisis. This push is created by the forces that lead our human evolution. As a result people get stuck, feel cooped up and are experiencing life as empty. They see relationships fall apart due to conflicts and can no longer find the way in life.

At the same time from deep within, fundamental questions arise: “What is life all about? Where do we come from? Where are we heading to? Who am I? Why am I on earth?”

Questions in which the voice of the higher, spiritual self can be heard. It makes itself heard, because it wants to be noticed and recognised. In that manner, it wants to become part of our ourselves, our identity and of the future evolution of humanity.

Complicated Relationships

However, all these new developments today mean that relationships with other people have become extremely complicated. Why? Because unconsciously we assume that others will naturally understand us and anticipate our emotions. When this isn't the case, we become angry or upset and we start to wonder if the other person refuses to understand us. The first step to misunderstanding, distrust and conflict has been taken.

Where do we go wrong? The problem is that in our contact with others, we still act out of the principles of the old group phase in which mutual understanding was more natural and logical. What we forget is that we, in our time of individuation and I-development, get more and more wrapped up in ourselves and disconnected from others, and we also start to differ more in personality from others. This means that natural understanding will come to an end and will start to disappear. Yes, it will even become a commonly accepted condition, that we aren't able to connect and not able to understand each other anymore!

The Need for Genuine Connection

At the same time, the need for real connection with the other grows every day. Not just because of increasing loneliness, but actually mainly out of an intrinsic need for reflection and answers to internal questions. People want to look inwards and want to become conscious of and be in touch with their own experiences, feelings, thoughts, questions and desires. In other words, we want to build the bridge inward. People want to reconnect with their deeper divine core and from there proceed onwards with deepened insight, dealing with themselves, with life and with other people differently. This process of assimilation, going on inside of us today, means that we want to reach for deeper layers in ourselves and live life from within.

So, how do we get connected with that piece inside of us that wants to become conscious? And how does that relate to the need for real connection with the other?

Genuine Conversation

You will develop that deeper inner connection with yourself through genuine conversation. One way, for example, is through having a conversation with yourself. In this case, keeping a journal would help. But mostly, what is needed is real genuine conversation with another person. Another person who will make space for you in his or her heart; who will ask the right questions and will really listen. When that happens, you can turn inward, feel and think about what exists there and then express it. Through that, you will notice that you not only get to really know yourself, but also – and this is what so special about it – your sacred inner self, your spirit self, will manifest itself. After such a conversation you will definitely feel more balanced, more free, happier and more powerful internally. Feelings that reflect your connection with your inner spirit. It indicates that some internal transformation has occurred. These new feelings show that a little more of your spiritual power is now active in you.

Some day in the distant future through this slowly progressing transformation process, our ego-I will be completely transformed into the spiritual power of the higher, spiritual self.

What is said above clarifies why in our age, a time in which the Holy Spirit wants to awaken within us, the built in need for genuine connection is getting stronger by the day, despite the difficulties. Which brings us back to the relationship problems of our times that people are dealing with today.

On the one hand the ego-I makes us more cooped up in ourselves and that makes that the gap between ourselves and others ever greater, but on the other hand we are longing for genuine connection. Unconsciously we feel and know that the other person can help us to awaken our inner Holy Spirit. Likewise, we start to realise that we can be of help to others in this also. So then, why is this not happening more?

How Do We Get Any Further?

If we as people want to make progress, we first have to understand the aspects of interpersonal relationships as they are today. Only when you know and understand the manifestations and the hindrances, will you be able to make well-considered choices, to make conscious decisions and to act accordingly.

Secondly, you must understand, and accept, that in a way, your interaction with people is usually automatically ego-driven. When bringing this into objective focus, one will admit that the other person is usually of interest only when he or she is beneficial to your life. In other words: you react to that person because you can relate to his or her thoughts, the nice looks, the way he or she arouses feelings within you, the way he or she acts or has things that can also be of benefit to you. The other person is thus of interest in so far as he or she has something to offer you. When this isn't the case, you usually aren't actually interested.

We can say that this is the reality in 98% of the contacts between people. However, such contact will not yield genuine connection. Most of the time the other person feels invisible, not heard and not acknowledged. Eventually, hope turns into disappointment. And you, in turn, you are only experiencing yourself in your feelings of sympathy and antipathy towards the other person. So in fact, nothing has developed and the gap remains.

The Step to Genuine Contact

Genuine connections are built through two practices. One is, to beware of the tendencies and one-sidedness of your ego-I and to learn to manage and control it.

The other practice involves learning to open up to the other person, in a free manner from your heart and your head, out of a pure interest in him or her as a human being. This involvement and interest makes you want to really meet the other person and to listen to them; to open up the possibility for them to feel heard.

In such a conversation, you use your own thinking to understand other people's ways of thinking and use your own feelings to empathise with their feelings and experiences. Basically, with your whole being, you explore what the other person needs. For this to happen, for another to truly open up to you from within, there has to be a true sense of free involvement, the other person needs to feel free to be who they really are.

By being there for the other person, through listening to what the other person is saying and asking questions, through summarising the story told and checking in with the person that you have heard them correctly and then incorporating it internally, new insights will be formed. In a new manner, in interaction with each other, a bridge will not only be built internally for the person, but a bridge will also be built from you to the other person; a bridge built by the conscious force of your inner spirit.

Because, when you put aside your ego-I and use your feelings, your heart and your mind consciously for the other, by being consciously focussed on the other person, your spirit self will be aware and a genuine connection with the other person will be possible.

Every person who meets you in this manner, will be entirely grateful. Because in such genuine contact, a feeling of fulfilment will flow into the other person's life; a feeling of peace and harmony and order. He or she feels that something has happened internally. Hence, people often thank you after such a contact.

To your own surprise, you feel that also within you as a listener something has changed. You too, feel that through such a contact more peace and inner power is living inside of you.

Yet there is more. Through such contact you will feel both as a speaker and listener – no matter how different you are and no matter the subject of conversation – connected in a new way and in a free manner.

The spirit that was awakened on both sides in this contact, not only worked through you and the other person, but also between you.

There, for a short period it created a full connection between both of you, based on empathy, involvement and warmth.

There, in that present moment, a genuine connection from human to human was created.


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