3 Keys to Unlock Deeper Intimacy
Updated: Aug 15, 2019
Learn how to create an unbreakable bond by unlocking intimacy within your relationship.
Has anyone ever articulated their feelings in such a way that it inspired you to deepen your capacity for connection?
A friend of mine is able to paint a picture of his internal world with such clarity that it allows me to attune to his reality. I developed a desire to express myself in this way because I've rarely felt understood.
How could I possibly feel understood when I didn't even know how I felt?
The deepest form of intimacy isn't found beneath the sheets between two lovers. Intimacy is what you embody after you take off your mask, in-order to be fully seen by another (intimacy = in-to-me-u-see)
Intimacy is learning how to authentically communicate your internal experience, pleasant or unpleasant, without the fear of being rejected.
Most of us are unaware of triggers that cause us to temporarily shut down emotionally. If we shut down emotionally due to an unconscious reaction to an external circumstance we destroy all possibility for connection.
Experiences during our childhood shaped our current belief system. The structure of the subconscious mind is built upon these beliefs and form our unique individual perceptions.
Our perception creates our experience of reality. Almost all of our decisions are involuntarily made by the subconscious.
There are two unconscious fears controlling our thoughts, emotions, and decisions.
1. I am not enough
2. I won't be loved
The belief that we are not enough causes us to hide behind internal walls attempting to avoid expressing our deepest truths. Walls are boundaries that represent the fear of being unworthy of love.
If we believe in our worthiness we wouldn't revert to illusionary controlling behaviors in hopes of avoiding rejection thus causing a denial of our own sense of self.
Underneath all of our pretending we will find hurt, disappointment, and shame.
These fears cause hardships within relationships. Identifying our core beliefs can be difficult because we dress them up as external situations and blame the experience rather than our belief that beckoned it into our reality.
It's impossible to identify something outside of our awareness. Imagine searching a crowed picture for Waldo without knowing he's wearing a red and white stripped outfit.
Do you know what will happen if life calls us to expand but we choose to remain safe? We will continue to repeat the experience until we let go of our pain and allow our healing to contribute to the evolution of humanity.
We must transcend fear to experience true intimacy by courageously choosing to be vulnerable.
I had the equation backwards. I thought once I felt courageous my fear would disappear and I'd take action. The ability to be courageous is choosing to take action despite how we feel or what we think will happen.
When we take action the terrifying mountain crumbles into a dusty road behind us as we awaken to the truth of who we are and allow our hearts to lead the way.
The reason most people are terrified to take action is their attachment to the outcome.
Vulnerability is defined as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure by Brene Brown in her book, Daring Greatly:How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.
Uncertainty can destroy fulfillment within a relationship because the fear of rejection causes people to deny their internal reality in order to not lose love from another.
Tony Robbins says, “the quality of your life is directly related to how much uncertainty you can comfortably handle.”
How do we experience the depths of intimacy if our subconscious mind is always seeking to make us feel safe?
While it may seem impossible, there is a path to creating deeper connections within your relationships. Choosing to do the right thing after doing it wrong for so long, will feel wrong. This is how you'll know you're heading towards growth.
The 3 Keys to Creating Deeper Intimacy
The 3 keys to intimacy is willingness, awareness, and transparency.
“Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and clarity of our purpose. The level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.” - Brene Brown.
If we want to create something new within our life we have to give ourself permission to head into a new direction. We must be willing to expand our awareness to include truths outside of what we want to be true.
If we don't, we can easily step into denial. Denial includes minimizing impact, forgetting it, excusing it, or rationalizing it.
The underlying belief that it's easier not to acknowledge the dark aspects of our personality in order to avoid pain, is the exact reason we suffer.
We must be willing to shine light on these suppressed parts of our personality so we can resurrect the full potential of who we really are.
I am willing to see what I've been denying to avoid pain.
I am willing to be completely wrong.
I am now willing to be totally willing to see truth.
I am willing to evolve and develop myself.
Awareness is the ability to witness reality as it is while recognizing your internal experience and honoring it without judgement.
We find it difficult to see anything within ourselves that can be perceived as wrong or bad because we believe it will be painful or impossible to change.
Suppressed shame paralyzes us from personal growth because it requires us to deny how our actions contribute to others unpleasant experiences and our own.
We find it difficult to admit when we're wrong because it also threatens being accepted by our social groups. This pulls us deeper into unconsciousness.
Our awareness brings our unconscious patterns into the light allowing them to finally be broken.
This is the key to release perpetual shame cycles that inhibit our ability to experience connection. If we conceal anything we add fertilizer to our secret garden of shame and isolate ourselves from even the possibility of connection.
Shame breeds in secrecy but disappears if we speak to it.
Pain, judgement, anger, jealously, rage, disappointment, envy are emotional manifestations of underlying subconscious fears covering our own shame.
Peace and joy come from the realization that there is nothing you want to hide even if you could.
Transparency can be tricky. When we finally muster up enough courage to discuss our internal experience we think we're being transparent but most of the time we're just scratching the surface.
Why Do We Get Angry?
Let me explain. When we get upset, a majority of the time, we aren't even mad for the reasons we believe.
Lets pretend Kara was on the phone with Blake. Blake hung up because of how Kara was talking to him. Now Kara is upset because Blake hung up on her.
It's true Kara wasn't treating him with respect and it's also true that it wasn't nice of Blake to hang up on her. They both reacted in a way that continues a cycle of pain.
The interaction that happened between Blake and Kara is very common. This type of negativity happens far too often within relationships but it doesn't have to once the pattern is recognized and openly discussed.
Neither Blake nor Kara are really upset about what actually happened. Underneath the actions that triggered them is a “story” they've told themselves about what their actions mean.
It's not what happened to us that creates internal turmoil, it's what we choose to believe about ourself because of the experience.
What we choose to believe about a person, situation, or experience creates a story.
The first person to step into awareness could have easily been Blake. He could have chosen to become aware the moment he realized Kara was reacting out of her normal character.
It's easy to discern that Kara's actions made him angry, frustrated, or even sad. He instinctively hung up on her because the way she was communicating stimulated a suppressed memory within him, that has a negative narrative attached to it.
The narrative is the story.
The story was written earlier in life within our mind, that we keep reading in the present moment when an interaction feels like the painful past.
How The Story Was Written
At a point in Blake's childhood, a person he loved, most likely one of his parents, spoke to him in a negative way that emotionally wounded him.
Since our mind can't rationalize peoples behavior at such a young age we internalize it, blame ourselves, and create beliefs that diminish our own self worth.
Somewhere along the journey we end up believing their behavior would have been different if we were different.
If any part of us wants to be different before fully accepting and loving those aspects of ourself, then we don't believe we are enough just as we are.
This belief causes us to reject and suppress the aspects of our personality the adult didn't like in order to remain worthy of their love.
During the first few years of life we develop attachments with our parents and/or guardians. These attachments are necessary for the development of a healthy child.
While researchers were trying to discover why some orphanages had an infant mortality rate of 30-40%, the study revealed that a baby will stop growing and will eventually die without physical touch, even if it's receiving proper nutrition.
These underlying parameters govern our internal guidance system and typically will not allow us to jeopardize the attachments with our guardians. They are the source of our love and protection.
Whether Blake's childhood experience was a single or repetitive offense, it's still classified as trauma. It may seem dramatic to claim being spoken to, in a harsh tone, can have negative affects but words have the power to heal, humiliate, hurt, humble, or help.
Trauma Isn't Always Traumatic
A traumatic event causes trauma but trauma doesn't need an agonizing experience to exist within us. An ordinary interaction can heal or wound a child.
Dr. Gabor Mate defines trauma as what happens inside of us and is the disconnection from oneself and the present moment.
Do Words Have the Power to Heal?
Buddhist monk and global peace worker, Thich Nhat Hanh, says, “Nothing can survive without food. Everything we consume acts either to heal us or to poison us. We tend to think of nourishment only as what we take in through our mouths. The conversations going on around us, and those we participate in, are also food. Are we consuming and creating the kind of food that is healthy for us and helps us grow? When we say something that nourishes us and uplifts the people around us, we are feeding love and compassion. When we speak and act in a way that causes tension and anger, we are nourishing violence and suffering.”
Shame VS Guilt
Shame can be considered an infection found within the wound of trauma. The wound will never heal unless it's identified, diagnosed, and properly treated.
On the surface guilt and shame may seem similar but shame is vastly connected to depression, addiction, aggression, suicide, bullying, and eating disorders.
Guilt focuses on behavior meaning I feel bad because I got caught cheating on an exam. Shame focuses on the self and would be internalized as I am a bad person because I got caught cheating on an exam.
How we were spoken to as a child is directly correlated to whether we are prone to feel guilt verses shame.
Have you ever witnessed a distressed mother trying to discipline her unruly child in public?
Typically, she is worried about how strangers are perceiving the situation and will revert to parenting tactics that aren't healthy for the child's mental and/or emotional development.
The mother doesn't realize the dangerous impact statements such as; you're a bad boy, I'm disappointed in you, shame on you, or since you were bad you can't have a toy, candy, etc.
Being a mother, I know how difficult it is to deliver the truth in a way that encourages change without creating a sense of shame within my daughter.
I can have a tendency to shame her if I don't remain aware of my parenting method because I was shamed as a child for my behavior.
We repeat what we learned through experience.
Let's pretend Blake was the child of the distraught mother that didn't know how to compassionately discipline him in public.
In order to gain control of the situation, his mother raised her voice and reverted to a tone that would signal to Blake that she was upset. She also withdrew her love from him.
Most of the time children are crying because they need a space to emotionally release stored energy, just like us.
A majority of people were not taught how to be a secure presence for a child's emotional needs. Instead we feel uncomfortable because we don't know what they need.
We just want them to stop crying.
If they stop they must feel better, right?
Just because a child stops crying because he's told to doesn't mean he feels better. It most likely means that he has suppressed his emotions and created a belief that his feelings don't matter and that he doesn't matter, because mommy or daddy doesn't care how he feels.
Over time a child learns how to deny his internal world and suppress his emotions when he's told to stop crying, being upset/angry, whining, etc.
This is where he is forced to deny his reality for the sake of not losing the love of his parents. Losing love can be defined as a withdrawal of their presence and/or awareness or emotional disconnection.
Patterns Can Be a Coping Mechanism
Since Blake's mother withdrew her love (presence, awareness, and emotional connection) at times of stress, she engrained a pattern within Blake's subconscious mind that he would reenact within his future relationships.
He was programed to withdrawal his love from Kara when her behavior was unacceptable to him because we learn by osmosis. Since that is what he experienced as a child he repeats the same pattern as a coping mechanism when he's triggered.
A new story can be written for a new outcome to be experienced.
For us to create a new outcome we have to be willing to see the patterns that do not serve our relationships, become aware of when we are in a pattern, and be transparent of what we are experiencing internally.
Once Blake is willing to become conscious of his tendency to withdrawal when he's triggered by Kara, he will change the once predictable outcome into a moment of intimate connection.
Breaking the Pattern
The next time Blake has an urge to hangup on Kara he knows it's the moment to pause.
He's done the wrong thing so long, the right thing will feel wrong.
Pausing will be uncomfortable because it's the opportunity to feel what is happening within him instead of running from the pain.
Instead of hanging up, Blake could respond to her by saying, “Kara I can hear that you're having a tough time right now. I'm here for you and want to listen so I can understand what is happening.”
Responding in this manner breaks the pattern of negative thinking, blame, and criticism. Blake's decision to not make her actions about him allowed him to showcase his commitment and desire to help Kara heal.
We find our healing in the presence of someone who listens to understand instead of hears to respond or fix us.
The next level of awareness would be found when Blake explores why he's triggered by Kara's tone.
Once he realizes the cause of his impulsive behavior he could continue his response by saying, “I'm not blaming you for my feelings but I'm sharing this for my healing. I'm feeling angry because the way you speak to me. I used to hang up because I thought it had to do with me. I started to feel like I wasn't enough. Now I see, my anger is a facade and I'm actually sad. I'm sad because it hurts me when you speak to me that way. It reminds me of how I felt after my mother yelled at me when I got in trouble as a kid.”
Blake's ability to be completely transparent with Kara not only brings her a sense of safety to observe her own patterns but deepens her trust for him.
After being vulnerable with your partner it gives you both permission to release judgement and step back into the presence of love.
Deep childhood wounds begin to heal as we let go of fear and allow a new way of being to transform our relationships.
The possibility to experience true intimacy within your relationship is at your fingertips.