As human beings, we all struggle with patterns and habits we would like to change. We carry feelings and beliefs, both known and unknown to us, about who we are and our relationship to the world and people around us. While we have known success in our lives, we feel nagged by unpleasant sensations. These may be as small as lingering insecurities and doubts, or they may be debilitating hurts and fears. They may be felt daily in our personal lives. They may arise in cycles within our closest relationships. We may see them recurring in the organizations we belong to or work in. They can be internal to who we are as individuals, and they can be seen reflected in our work or community interactions. However it is we encounter them, they just seem to keep popping up time and again.
Perhaps you have already identified these cycles around you and within you. Though you want to step once and for all away from them, you have tried and failed so many times that you realize you must try something entirely different. However, you have no idea how, and you may be overwhelmed just knowing where to get started. For a short time, you have a great deal of energy to try something new, only to find yourself in time reverting back to old ways of thinking and doing. Each time this happens, it is a little bit harder to try again.
If this sounds familiar for you, take heart. We share in this same struggle, for we are human just like you. We have suffered the repeated ache of failed attempts to change, felt the pain that is part of the growing process, and felt stuck and trapped in the process of letting old habits, feelings, and perceptions go once and for all. We understand from our own experiences that change is never easy; in fact, stepping into the unknown is one of the most courageous steps we can take. As practicioners at Connexus, we have all been humbled by the gifts we have received from those along our way who offered us deeply attuned listening, healing experiences, and valuable information. For us, those gifts have both inspired and transformed us, allowing old ways of thinking, feeling, and doing to start falling away. And in leaving them behind, we have found room within and the strength to step forward into new lives and endeavors with confidence.
Our Core Operating Principles
At Connexus, we operate from five core beliefs about creating the change we seek, change that is deep, sustainable and permanent.
1. Change must occur simultaneously in mind, heart, and body.
If change only happens in one area of our being (even if they are well-intentioned changes), it inherently causes imbalance in our system. Such imbalance cannot be sustained for long. Everything about the work of Connexus is about integration. We have dedicated ourselves and our offerings to the understanding and exploration of our three Parts as humans:
- The Mind (thoughts, beliefs, values, psychology, ego, language, stories, etc.)
- The Heart (feelings, emotions, behaviors, attachments, etc.)
- The Body (reflexes, neurobiology, chemistry, nutrition, chronic illness)
Our on-going struggles in life are the result of our Parts being misaligned and out of balance with each other, when one part is privileged over another, or when one part has habitually dominated the others. For example, there is a deeply valued approach in our culture that if we just “put our minds to something”, we can accomplish it. This inherently promotes an imbalance as it privileges the mind over the other systems. While this may work extremely well in certain situations, when it comes to seeking change in our personal and interpersonal lives, it is all too likely to recreate the very problem we are trying to resolve. In so many ways, we have been both taught or allowed to believe that an imbalanced relationship between our Parts is normal. Only by deepening and exploring our experiences in all three Parts can we begin working in closer alignment with ourselves. The changes we have longed to make real in our lives then begin to emerge. Old habits begin falling away. New feelings and sensations emerge as if on their own. And the effort of change as we have known it is filled with ease and confidence.
It is from this primary principle of Connexus that our tagline, Embracing Your Wholeness, emerges.
2. Change requires a new capacity to be built first.
Without a new capacity in place, the stress of any change or transformation will not be tolerated by the body/mind/heart system. One easy way to understand this principle is that any change, even if it is a positive change, creates stress in some Part of us. Many of our change attempts in the past have only served to “max out” our tolerance for stress, leaving us feeling overwhelmed (or just making excuses as to why we shouldn’t stick with the change). So we don’t stick with the new, and go back to the old. Therefore, if we are going to set off a mini-explosion of stress our system has never been able to tolerate previously, we must build a new container able to withstand the explosion. This is a process we call “resourcing”.
3. Change cannot happen in isolation.
In order for true change to take place, we must feel and trust that we are connected in meaningful ways with those around us (friends, family, community, co-workers). We live in a society that in many ways promotes as normal a sense of deep disconnectedness. As a result, so many of us are conflicted and feel insecure about the depth of connection we have with others, and we perpetuate these insecurities in the stories we carry out in our thoughts, feelings, and actions. We cycle through feelings of self-shame or resentment of others, returning over and over again to old strategies in our attempt to resolve these overwhelming feelings. Only when we can feel seen, heard, and safe do our experiences begin to shift and change. This is a relational process that must be in place to support our change. We must know and feel that we are not alone. We must feel connected to ourselves, to others, and to our world, and know with a confidence felt in all of our Parts that we belong to something greater than us.
4. Change is always organic.
We reject any one-size-fits all approach. We believe that all people and their groups are built for growth and expansion, and that any one formula or prescription for this goes against our very nature. The most needed change can rarely be pre-defined. Our mechanisms (mind, heart, and body systems) we use for assessing problems and determining their solutions are inevitably built on old and undesired experiences, the very experiences and ways of relating to our problem that we are trying to get away from. Our conscious mind gets wired around what we have known, and is therefore limited and ineffective at identifying—much less solving—what the problems are. How then can we use our conscious mind to identity the way forward into what we don’t know? Rather than focusing on a new what (e.g. “My goal is….”, “My objective is….”), at Connexus we emphasize focusing on a new how (“I will practice in a new way”), trusting that the new what will emerge only when the new how has taken root.
5. Change always involves fear.
Even when change is good and beneficial, fear is always felt, whether we acknowledge it or not. Many times, this fear can be painful in any or all of our body, our heart, and our mind. These fears, when unprepared for and unacknowledged, keep driving us back to our old methods.
This is why we chose our website name, LovingOurFear.com. The phrase “Loving Our Fear” summarizes for us simply, yet so powerfully, what we at Connexus are all about. It presumes (and accepts!) that we all have the capacity for incredible fear, but that our capacity for even greater and more powerful love is within us as well. In fact, it is our birthright to know the confidence of love inside of ourselves, able to hold and contain, and then to melt, any fear that may arise.
We are often misunderstood when our clients hear us refer to love. To us, love is not a feeling, a thought, a belief, or a set of behaviors. Love cannot be defined by a set of expectations, rules, or procedures. It is neither an action, nor is it a choice. It is not something we can control nor manipulate. Love is both us, and not us. It is ours to use and tap into, but it is not ours to own. In fact, love within us can only be described by what it is not. Love defies any definition. To attempt to define it is to immediately limit what it is, and so we would therefore lose our connection to love itself.
At Connexus, we use the word love to refer to the most powerful force and energy that we are connected to. Many may use other terms for this energy: Life-force, God/Goddess, The Universe, Nature, etc. It doesn’t matter what word you may identify with best. We choose the word love, because it frames for us both that it is active, and that we all posses it. We recognize we will never define what love is, yet we accept it as being what empowers to embrace our fear. And in embracing our fear, we ultimately know that we are embracing our wholeness.
Embracing your wholeness encourages you to acknowledge and accept every facet of your experience, build new capacity to contain fear that comes up, and develop new understanding and beliefs about yourself and your world. This is what we work with you to do. Throughout our partnership with you as you change, we strive to integrate the following elements into every counseling, coaching and consulting relationship, every training and workshop.
This is where you share with us. We all experience feeling accepted in different ways, but in order to feel accepted we must first believe that we have been seen and heard. We strive to listen and attune to you as deeply as possible, reflecting and validating elements of your experience or struggle which may be invisible even to you. We also recognize that part of feeling accepted may at times involve holding you accountable to the commitments you have made to yourself. Helping you to develop a sense of compassion for yourself that is balanced with commitment is a major part of our offering. Acceptance corresponds to your Heart change.
This is where we share with you. We love information, and we love to share it with you. With new information, the mind is enabled to operate more flexibly, assess situations and problems from a new perspective or even a new paradigm. With alternative ways of looking at old struggles, the mind is able to let go of old habits, rather than being constrained to “what has worked”. The mind may not be able to grasp the full implications of the new information, but this is vital in creating space for new experiences to occur and new meanings to form. Education corresponds to your Mind change.
EXPERIENCE (Activities & Practices)
This is where the sharing stops, and the doing starts. The activities and practices we guide you through (and encourage you to practice on your own) serve as an exploration of your internal systems. This could be looking separately at mind, heart, or body systems, or it could be to observe the relationship between them. We strive to guide you in a context and environment which feels safe enough, and empower your practice and participation at your own pace. These activities allow you to build new connections within yourself, leading to deeper confidence and greater clarity. Once you have done something and practiced it several times, it begins changing your neural pathways. In time these new pathways are strong enough to replace the old ones that weren’t serving you. Experiential corresponds to your Body change.
Our Name and Logo
According to the dictionary, connexus is a synonym for connection. For us it has several meanings that play off its parts and how it sounds.
First, we are all about connecting and making connections. These can be connections made between disparate parts of our experience (such as the connections between mind, heart, and body); connections made between us and others that are new and alive; and even brain connections, the reorganization of neurons in the brain and nervous system.
Connexus also sounds like “connects us” – a very powerful invocation of how we are already connected with one another in our shared humanity. This also encourages us to explore the ways in which we can connect more deeply and humanly with each other. Alluding to “us” reminds us that in order to change we cannot go it alone, that we are in this together, and that our greatest success as individuals can only occur when we are involved together, in partnership, as a team.
Lastly, Connexus has the word nexus in it, which is defined as a bond between parts of a group or a whole. Nexus in our name is the relationship between our Parts, between us as humans as we function as part of group. Rather than focusing on the individuals in any group, or on any individual part of ourselves, nexus turns our attention to the bonds between and how our parts can only function in optimal health when working in conjunction with one other. When we add a prefix, con-nexus literally means “bonded with”; co-nexus means “shared bond”.
Our logo is all about this Connexus. The image is an ancient symbol called a triqueta, and represents for us the joining of three elements in harmony, each part being essential to the whole. If we expand or focus on only one point of the triqueta, the whole will become distorted and dysfunctional: Mind, Heart, and Body. Further, it illustrates our commitments: Education, Acceptance, Experience. It reminds us that we can always engage our desire for change from different angles, and that a change at one point (or an offering of one kind), will always have an impact across the entire whole. Exploring and expanding our repertoire of skills and approaches restores balance to the whole system.
It is from this vision we hold, from our desire to heal ourselves and bring wholeness to our world, that we invite you to embrace your wholeness. As you do, we are certain you will experience a depth of change and transformation that perhaps you have only dreamed of. We are honored to be your partners in your life.