Brene Brown caused a big stir when she stood up and started talking about her own vulnerability. As she candidly put it in her TED talk, she did not think that she was supposed to feel vulnerable. Only to discover, that she actually was missing out on some of the best of life—namely intimacy—by being unwilling to surrender to being vulnerable. I am so grateful for her efforts to make the world a little more real and a little more humane.
It takes a lot of discipline to open up when you feel threatened but that is just what vulnerability asks us to do. It asks us to let go of our pride –our need to be right—and open to the greater truth of ourselves, the other, and the situation. When we are vulnerable we loose the stranglehold of our lesser selves. Vulnerability requires that we are able rely on a much deeper and stronger part of our self –one that is not caught up in our ego.
Let me describe the process:
It happens all the time! I get myself into a situation where I can feel myself armoring up. I feel judged, disrespected, misunderstood. It does not matter what the specific situation is, really. Just that I can feel it coming on. This intense desire to protect myself -sometimes, at all cost. My heartbeat goes up, my muscles tense, my thoughts start running away, taking my rational self with them.
I know that nothing good can come with this approach but, it is so automatic sometimes. Can you relate?
It takes everything I’ve got to remember that my reaction is causing the problem not protecting me from it. I remember I have nothing to lose but my pride and I let go. My breath deepens. My muscles soften. I can feel my heart open up. NOW, I can make something good happen.
Now let’s break it down step by step:
Why is this important?
I am going to give you two reasons why this is so critical to our overall fulfillment in life. First, we are unable to develop real relationships that are deeply caring and intimate if we do not allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Second, if we need to pretend that we are not vulnerable then our whole life becomes a charade. We have to work all the time to keep up appearances and in short that makes us miserable.
Short and sweet summary: If you want to be happy, learn how to be vulnerable.
Tune into this weeks Real Answers Radio for more on how to create meaningful relationships through vulnerability. The show is always live and your questions are always welcome!
Emotional intimacy is something that most everybody longs to experience. The feeling of a significant connection to another living being is an essential ingredient of your emotional and spiritual well-being. However, despite the importance of emotional intimacy to one’s emotional and spiritual well-being, creating and maintaining emotional intimacy with your partner can be oftentimes confusing, even a confounding proposition to undertake.
Just what is emotional intimacy? Emotional intimacy is a type of connection that exists between two people. People create emotional intimacy through open and honest communication—specifically, by expressing to your partner thoughts and feelings about who you are, how each of you experiences the present moment with one another, and fulfilling the emotional needs of each other.
Does such freedom exist in your relationship(s)—the freedom to openly express yourself without fear of judgment or retaliation? If so, what have you and your partner done to create such an environment? If open and honest communication does not exist in your relationship, what do you and your partner do to censure open and honest communication?
Did you notice that in my explanation of emotional intimacy I emphasized that emotional intimacy is the result of sharing how each person experiences the present moment. This is a specific critical skill that can greatly enhance the quality of your relationship(s). Being able to effectively reveal yourself by expressing how you’re experiencing the present moment is what enables your partner to know you, understand you, and most importantly be there for you. That, my friend, is what brings two people closer and closer together—knowing who your partner is, knowing what is important to your partner, and the willingness to let your partner express those things to you!
Your ability to express your thoughts and feelings about how the present moment impacts you enables your relationship to continually renew itself and deepen the sense of involvement you feel with your partner. Emotional intimacy deepens only when you are willing to share who you are and be open to your partner expressing to you who they are? So when you experience your relationship as being stale, when you experience yourself drifting away from your partner, when you find yourself longing for the type of connection with your partner that is nurturing, take the risk of creating a dialogue with your partner that enables each of you to reveal yourself to the other.
Bridge Builder’s Tips
1) Reveal yourself to your partner by expressing how you’re experiencing the present moment.
2) Keep it safe for your partner to express their experience of the present moment to you. 3) Honor rather than judge what your partner reveals to you about themselves and the present moment.
4) Acknowledge how you’re affected by what your partner reveals about themselves to you.
5) Express your appreciation to your partner for their willingness to risk exposing who they are to you.
6) Reciprocate with your partner by revealing who you are to them.
Want to learn more about how to create (and keep!) intimacy in your relationships? Listen to Dr. Kate’s next Real Answers Radio Show at 12pm EST on Thursday January 15th.
This article reposted from Alive and Well News
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.