The inner bond - connecting with yourself

It’s part of the human condition to long to be heard.


As humans, we experience the need to be independent and have our voices and opinions honoured, but also to be part of a group, to belong, to be approved of. We look for validation from others that what we think is OK, hoping for alignment between what we think and feel as an individual, and what is acceptable to those around us. We suffer greatly when this approval doesn’t come; when we feel our own truths are not accepted or understood by those around us.

The sociologist Eva Illouz has argued that this need for approval has become stronger since the decline of religion. Previously, most individuals would carry around an inner moral code by which they could assess their actions and know whether what they were doing was OK or not. The loss of this code means we increasingly rely on others to help us work out whether we are OK or not.

This can leave us unsure of ourselves and dependent on the judgement of others, which can leave us focused on what others think and approve of rather than getting in touch with our own sense of what is right. It can be easy to take what others say as the truth, adapting ourselves to the thoughts and needs of others, ignoring the feelings of unease from within ourselves.

This can lead to dependence and co-dependence in a relationship - needing the other to tell you that you are OK. But ask yourself for a moment, what if you are OK anyway? What if you have all the answers within? What if you could tap into your own truths and live authentically from that place? How much of you and your life would that free up?

Margaret Paul talked about the 'inner bond'; the connection with ourselves that helps us to know what we are feeling, what we want, and what action we think we need to take. We often ignore these feelings, not taking ourselves seriously, and listen to a trusted other instead. But what if you could really listen to yourself, really support yourself, really know what’s true for you and find the strength within you to live that? That’s what strengthening the inner bond is all about, so you can look within for answers rather than outside of yourself.

How often have you heard the phrase "just be yourself"? What is your response to that statement? In my professional experience, the problem seems to be that often people don’t really know what it means to be themselves; that they could be themselves if they just knew who they are. The problem is often with the knowing - not with the communicating of that knowing. It can be the same with what we need and want as individuals; it's knowing what you want and what you need that can be the biggest challenges. That’s where the inner bond comes in.

The more you connect with yourself, the more you get to know about yourself.

There are many ways of strengthening this bond with yourself. Meditation, reflection, writing... asking yourself how you really feel and truly listening to the answers. Counselling can help with this process, providing you with space to really hear yourself; to work through what is actually true for you; to help you hear and feel what’s true for you and start to find ways to acknowledge and act on that, so that your relationship with yourself becomes stronger.

This can also strengthen your relationships with others; no longer do you need people to tell you that you are OK. This frees relationships up to become focused on deep connection and real sharing.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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West Norwood, SE27
Written by Joanne Strong, MSc MBACP
West Norwood, SE27

Joanne Strong MSc MBACP is an accredited counsellor and psychotherapist working in private practice and community services, with experience in the NHS. Joanne's private practice is located in a dedicated therapy room based in South East London.

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