Updated: Oct 20
As seen in APeeling February 2020
Intimacy is created when you allow yourself to fully experience yourself, the person you are with and the moment you are in. It is a space created through openness and a willingness to connect (mentally, emotionally, physically, experientially, sexually, spiritually). A space where there is full permission to be vulnerable, to be expressive and to feel. It is often the aspect within a relationship that we most deeply crave because of how loving it feels and yet it may scare us to go there.
So how come we both crave and fear intimacy? As humans, it is part of our makeup to want connection and intimacy. The problem is that throughout our lives we get hurt in relationships and we naturally want to protect ourselves.
Perhaps you were rejected, told some part of you wasn’t OK or that you had to be something or someone else to fit in or be loved. We’ve all been there and to protect yourself from further hurt, you began a process of consciously and subconsciously
re-shaping yourself around those experiences. Hiding the parts of you others deemed “not OK” and cultivating more of what they did deem as “OK”. The thing is our best qualities are highly subjective and someone may have deemed your joy to be too joyful, your self-confidence to be too much or your vulnerability to be weak. So before you could realize what a strength that quality was, you begin turning it down along with others.
Slowly over time, you begin to believe that this new version of you is all of you and now what was a coping strategy or a protection mechanism, feels like your personality.
When in reality, there are amazing and profound parts of you hiding beneath the surface, waiting to be rediscovered so that you can become all that you are meant to be. The fear we experience in intimacy is really just a signpost that we are recovering a disowned part of ourselves and the reward of moving into that fear rather than away from it is well worth it!
When you are able to more fully connect with and love your true self, you will naturally allow others to experience more of you. This in turns allows you to become more powerful and magnetic in all areas of your life. This is one key area many of the most influential people on the planet have mastered. Opening up to greater love and intimacy gives ourselves and others permission to drop our coping strategies and be all of who we are which is attractive and empowering.
So how do we get to a place of creating more love and intimacy so we can experience all the amazing benefits like feeling more confident, empowered and attractive...
A great place to start is with these 3 simple yet powerful practices:
Wonder: Practicing wonder allows us to feel more alive, creative, open, present and joyful in our life and in our connections. It increases opportunities for intimacy and love to thrive in. Allow yourself to experience, someone you know, as if it’s the first time you met. Be curious about what people are expressing to you and how they might feel or what their life may have been like. Be curious about aspects of yourself you may not realize are there or you disowned. Wonder is the ability you have had since the moment you were born, it’s an expansive state of possibility and youthfulness that allows you to see the world with fresh eyes and an open heart.
Appreciation: Practicing being in appreciation and expressing appreciation improves mood, mindset, trust, confidence and likability. Take as many opportunities during the day as you can to express to yourself (through inner dialogue) and to others what you appreciate at that moment. Let yourself know you are appreciated and let others know they are as well.
Listening to Self & Others: The practice of listening creates more trust and safety in your relationship with self and others. First, it allows you to really hear and ultimately understand what others are saying to you instead of what you think they are saying. This is powerful skill and a sought after quality. Second, it allows you to really hear yourself, make better decisions and create healthy boundaries in your relationships. Lastly, it helps you be more present in your connections. To practice listening to yourself, start by taking a few moments throughout the day to check in with yourself and see how you feel (with as little judgement as possible).
Allow yourself to be with whatever feeling is present. Our feelings are often guiding us throughout our day. When we are too busy or disconnected from our bodies to feel what it is saying we miss important messages. It may be as simple as someone asking you out to lunch and you automatically saying yes without checking in with yourself first. Next thing you know you are feeling annoyed or irritated or like you’d rather be doing something else and both you and the person you are with can feel that energy. In this case, if you had checked in with yourself before saying yes you might have noticed a feeling within you that was saying no or asking to do something else. With this information, you could have created a different outcome that felt better for everyone.
To practice listening to someone else, allow yourself to focus 100% on what they are trying to say to you (with as little judgement as possible). To gauge how well you are listening and to let them know you are listening, summarize and repeat back to the person what you heard them say. Then ask them if you understood them correctly. If you don’t feel like you fully understood what the person was saying or they tell you that you missed something, ask them what you missed or what they meant or simply ask them to tell you more until you get it.
These simple and powerful practices will improve your relationship skills, confidence and self-worth so you can experience and attract greater love and intimacy. I’d invite you really explore these practices daily and see how they can shift your life.
Lee-Ann Frances Bates is a relationship & intimacy expert.
Is Intimacy one of your SUPER POWERS? It certainly wasn’t for me. For years I struggled to create the lasting and powerful relationships I desired in my business & personal life. In my corporate career, I often felt frustrated with the dysfunction and craved a more inclusive, team-oriented environment where healthy communication could take place and each person’s brilliance could be better utilized. At home, I was going through the motions and found myself in a relationship that looked perfect from the outside and left me secretly yearning for more. At times I felt lonely. I was missing deeper connections and relationships where I could truly be seen, felt, heard, understood and appreciated. People tell me often that when their relationships aren’t going as well as they would like it feels exhausting and sometimes like more drama and chaos then they would like. They tell me how they crave more ease and for things to get better without having to work so hard.