On the topic of intimacy many people might say, “What do we really mean by intimacy anyway?” Intimacy is both a familiarity with and a deep knowledge of another person. And in fact, the first person that we really need to be intimate with is ourselves. Our capacity to see and relate to another person is supported or diminished by our capacity to know ourselves. Therefore, I recommend that the following statements for increasing intimacy also be applied personally.
Ask questions: One of the surest ways to block intimacy is to forget to see the other person as a vast landscape that will never be completely discovered and instead through the limitations of your own curiosity turn them into a small and familiar backyard. George Bernard Shaw writes, “First love is only a little foolishness and a lot of curiosity.” When we first meet someone it is easy to be enamored with them and intrigued by the person who has provoked such powerful emotions. However, most people forget to continue this level of curiosity and instead turn to telling the other who they are. This is a serious block to intimacy. At the point when one person thinks they “know” another person completely they have stopped the flow of intimacy.
Learn how to listen: Of course asking the questions is just one half of the equation. You also need to be able to take in the information and learn how to give it back so that the other person feels heard. Listening techniques abound. Carl Rogers, a Humanistic psychologist, was considered a powerful contributor to the art of listening with his concept of active listening. In active listening, all of the listener’s attention is on hearing what the other person is saying and giving it back to them in a way where they feel heard. Unfortunately this is not what we do the majority of the time we are listening. More often we are formulating a response or determining how we feel about what they are saying.
Suspend judgments: When you are listening to someone you want to be closer to, it is important to learn how to suspend judgments. Once we start to feel more comfortable in relationship we often begin to dissect what we like and what we do not like about the other person. It might be as superficial as what they wear or as deep as their spiritual or philosophical beliefs. As soon as we move into judging another person, we have put a divider between them and ourselves.
Differences are good: Frequently, we do this because we think that if someone we are close to holds a different belief than we do then one of us has to be wrong. This is a very common misconception that blocks people from being close to each other. While there are situations where people choose not to be close to each other due to differences, it is often more than possible to love and accept differences as simply this other person’s experience of their world. Why would we ever think that it would be the same as ours?
If you want to hear more on this topic or get your questions answered. Join me on my Radio Show Real Answers where I will talk on these topics more in depth as well as discuss additional skills for creating more intimacy.
Clutter is anything that gets in the way of what matters most to you. It can certainly be material—unwanted trinkets and clothes that no longer fit—but clutter also can be spiritual, emotional, and psychological.
Maybe you’ve found yourself unable to meditate or pray because you can’t stop thinking about an insensitive remark your coworker made. Or you’ve filled hours of your life with worry and irritation about something you can’t control. Perhaps you’re still mad at a college roommate who has owed you rent money for decades, or the memory of an embarrassing moment in your past sometimes creeps into your thoughts and leaves you cringing and mortified for hours.
These aggravations and other negative thoughts about people and situations can get in the way of an intentional life focused on the things you actually value. Regrets, anger, frustrations, anxieties, envy, and other nonproductive emotions may be depleting your limited energy. And, unfortunately, mental clutter doesn’t magically disappear; the only way to alleviate mental clutter is to deal with it.
1. Assess the mess. Physical clutter is easy to identify, but mental clutter can be more difficult. What relationship in your life is draining? What consuming thoughts aren’t in accord with the life you desire? What distracts you from being fulfilled spiritually and emotionally? Try this to help identify the clutter: sit in silence, close your eyes, and try to clear your mind. As thoughts pour in and distract you from centering, pause to write them down. Return to sitting still with your eyes closed. Repeat the process until all those invasive thoughts are on paper and your mind finally feels quiet.
2. Sort. Categorize all that mental clutter into groups based on how you intend to process it. Group it into categories like: I can let it go right now, I can research and likely solve the problem, I can change my attitude/opinion about it, I can make amends, I can confront it with the help of a mental health professional.
3. Plan your attack. Treat this like any other project: you need clear direction for your actions and a timeline for when to take the next step. Working through the categories you created in step two, write a to-do list of the next steps you can take to reduce or completely get rid of your distractions. For example, you might decide to set a timer and wait 10 minutes before responding to emails that make your blood boil, forgive a friend even though she hasn’t apologized, or schedule 15 minutes this evening to research family therapists in your area. Once you have solidified your to-do list, open your calendar and schedule all time-sensitive actions for a specific date and time.
4. Throw out the backpack. Once you resolve an issue, don’t stash it in your mental backpack to retrieve later. If you have forgiven someone, do your best to never mention the transgression again. You’re done with the clutter; be resolved to let it go for good.
5. Avoid future traps.It’s pretty hard to avoid mental clutter for the rest of your life, but you can prevent some of it. Look for physical clues—when your outward space is chaotic it might be a sign your inner space is out of balance too. Keep a journal where you can offload your small, daily emotional clutter. You might consider scheduling five minutes every day to worry about all the things you can’t control. Then, if an unwanted anxiety pops into your head you can dismiss it by reminding yourself, I’ve scheduled time to think about that problem during the bus ride home, so right now I will focus my attention on writing this report. Cultivate habits that help you identify mental clutter when it starts, and turn your attention to something more meaningful.
Remember, you get to decide what fills your head and shapes your thoughts. Only you can clear the distractions and focus instead on what matters most to you, so stop letting clutter interfere with your meaningful path.
Along with self-care, the idea of “what we deserve” can be riddled with entitlement. However, what it basically means is that we are willing to take in the same amount that we put out -that we are willing to create balance and health in our lives.
Let’s take a moment to tune in and pay attention to what is going on inside of us.
What are you rationalizing, making excuses for, and in general tolerating in your life because you really want something and are willing to get a fraction of it because somewhere deep inside you believe that might be the best you are going to get?
Or, maybe, it does not even get that conscious. Maybe you just settle before even becoming aware of it.
So, let’s wake up. Life is truly to short to be anything less than our full and fabulous selves. It is not a matter of entitlement. It is a matter of stewardship. Ultimately, what serves this life that you are living –what affirms it.
Move in that direction every chance you get. It is a recipe for fulfillment and success.
Being successful generally does not just happen, it requires taking action. As with many things in life, being focused can greatly increase your odds of achieving an important goal, or goals.
Success is no different. If you want to be successful there are actions you can take to help improve your odds. Here are seven secrets of success you can focus on to greatly increase your chances of being successful.
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Andy Singer is the president of Singer Executive Development, a professional training and development company that helps optimize business performance of employees and executives. They work with companies of all sizes optimizing performance and key skill sets in areas such as sales, marketing and operations. Singer is also on the board of directors for several organizations.