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Adapted from the works of
Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.

It can be hard to really connect with people. Often, we find ourselves feeling like outsiders - detached, lonely and adrift. In meetings, at parties, and at other social events, it can be quite daunting to try to meet people, to fit in. In her book, Dare to Connect, Susan attributed this feeling to our "Somebody Training".

From the day we are born, we are taught that we need to be a Somebody and to be a Somebody we have to measure up to standards put on us by outside expectations. From childhood on, we are pressured to be smart, athletic, attractive, successful and be . . . more. But what is lost in all that influence is being ourselves.

Susan put it this way:

Why do we often feel so separate from everyone around us? Why do we often feel so alone? Why do we often feel like outsiders looking in?

Because we are taught by our parents and our society that what we are "supposed to" be in this world is a Somebody! As a result, our self-worth is dependent on such factors as money, status, power, personality, looks, and intellectual excellence.

Yet in trying to feel like a Somebody, we usually wind up feeling frustrated and disconnected. As Susan said, "When we allow these trappings to become a measure of our self-worth, we set ourselves up for an incredible amount of pain, and instead of feeling like a Somebody, we end up feeling like a Nobody!"

The reasons that Somebody Training can make us feel like Nobodies are:

  • It emphasizes individual differences and puts us in competition with everyone around us
  • When we focus on outside approval, it makes us lose sight of who we truly are
  • When we focus only on externals, such as looks, money, success, or attractiveness, we lose sight of our common humanity

It can be frustratingly hard to make any real connections to other people when we don't feel comfortable in our own skins or if we feel we are in constant competition with those around us.

This is what society and culture has determined is a Somebody. But, if we think about the people who make a difference in our lives, our personal definition of a Somebody would be vastly different. The people who touch us deeply, who are confident and open, who are empathetic towards others, who listen and really work to connect with others - those are the real Somebodies. They are the persons we can count on, who are confident, strong and consequential.

Isn't that a much better definition of a Somebody?

To be this new kind of Somebody, Susan recommended that we undergo "Everybody Training."

In Everybody Training we learn how to find that place within us all where we always feel like a Somebody and where we perceive everybody as a Somebody. This makes a perfect circle of connection. There is no competition, only compassion. There is no fear, only love.

The exercises in this new kind of training are designed to give us the strength to make the transition from Somebody (which excludes others) to Everybody (which includes others.) To start, we need to consider how we approach our social interactions.

When we are operating with our Somebody Training, we meet other people with the idea of "What can I get out of this?" When we are going through Everybody Training, we approach our interactions with others with the idea of "What am I going to give?"

Connection is made easier when we approach other people with the primary purpose of making them feel better about themselves.

Susan wrote that, "Our hesitation about approaching others comes from the awful possibility that, instead of feeling better about ourselves after we make the big move toward connection, we'll end up feeling like a jerk!" When we are only concerned with how we might appear to other people, we can often feel insecure, unworthy or fearful.

However, when we approach other people with the intention that we might be able to give them something, that we might be able to help them, it doesn't matter whether or not we are rejected. We are operating on a higher level where we recognize that everyone is a Somebody, ourselves included. With this knowledge, we can feel secure, worthy and fearless, and can truly begin to connect with others.

Copyright © 2015 Susan Jeffers, LLC All rights reserved.

Adapted from Susan's writing in End the Struggle and Dance with Life.

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