At the heart of being human is a deep need to connect–to feel truly seen. Fears can prevent us from making these deep connections. We put up walls in an effort to protect ourselves from hurt, but these walls also rob us of that connection we so deeply crave. How can we be kind to ourselves in the process, go toward what we authentically want, and still allow people in? Building deeper connections with others starts with taking the time to look within and getting clear about what we really want for ourselves.

Marni Battista knows about creating deep and lasting connections. She is the founder of Dating with Dignity, with 25 years of personal, long-term relationship and dating experience herself. She used her professional dating and relationship coach expertise to author, “How to Find a Quality Guy Without Going on 200 Dates“. Her expert opinion has been published in The Huffington Post, Men’s Fitness, and Cosmopolitan Magazine. Her weekly online dating and relationship show, The Dating Den, has over 2.6 million views. As a dating divorcee for over 10 years, she really gets what it’s like to keep putting yourself out there and go for the love you want.

We had the opportunity to have Marni share her thoughts on creating authentic connections and connecting, most importantly, with yourself, with the One Idea Away community. Here are the five key points to being true to yourself and allowing yourself to open up to fulfilling relationships.

Connect to Something Bigger

Whether your journey starts with a job loss, a divorce, or some other big life change, it can prompt an “aha moment” that has you looking deeper. It can be an opportunity for reinvention. Rather than looking outward for answers, the key is to do the inner work first and then let the outer take care of itself. If we allow it to, an awakening like this can give us the ability to connect to something bigger than ourselves–to get yourself out of the way to find the work you were truly meant to do in the world.

When you love yourself first and get clear about what you need, you can create amazing relationships. By taking the time to look at what you want–what you really want–you can design your life around it. As an architect designs a building, you can build your life from the ground up.

Take Time to Self-Soothe

This journey may not be an easy one and you may find yourself at a loss as to what tools to use to get clear on those wants and needs. Without having to spend any money or get too “woo-woo,” there is a meditation that you can access anywhere and anytime you want to self-soothe. The concept is that there are four areas of ourselves that have needs:

The intellectual
The emotional
The physical
The spiritual

Ask yourself what you want in each of these areas, and what you need in order to create that. By taking the time to be fully present this way, you can see where your intellectual self, for example, may be taking over the needs of your emotional self. Logic may be bullying your emotional self by telling it to power through, ignoring what you need emotionally. It’s important to balance these needs, so you don’t delve into self-criticism.

Practice Self-Compassion

To silence the inner critic, add in a dose of self-compassion. Be as gentle with yourself as you would with a friend or loved one. Beating yourself up is not a sustainable motivator and can leave you feeling drained and burnt out. If you feel like you’re “failing” at life, go back and do the four-step check-in meditation to get back to basics. It may simply be time for a remodel rather than a need to tear down the whole house.

Be Vulnerable

At the heart of deep connections with people is vulnerability. A romantic relationship is not possible without this type of intimacy. Our neural pathways can prevent us from this vulnerability due to cultural myths and programming. Without emotional safety, vulnerability is not possible, so we need to notice where we’re putting up our emotional shields and what we can do to feel safe enough to open up. The first step is to notice what it feels like and to be aware that it’s preventing you from meaningful connections.

Align Your Outer World With Your Inner World

According to Marni, to live her meaningful way, it’s important to align your inner world with your outer world. Take the time to figure out what you need to express in the world and then take action to reflect that. This creates an authentic life of dignity and integrity. Look at your connection to yourself and check in with what you want to further define, or take the time to start from scratch and redefine it.

Through the process of checking in with yourself intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, you can begin to authentically connect with yourself and connect deeply with others. Ask yourself what you need, what you want, and . . . what you really want.

Check out Marni Battista’s interview in its entirety on the One Idea Away podcast.

Or play now below!

Also published on Medium.