The Collins dictionary defines intimacy as a “close or warm relationship” and “deeply personal, private or secret.” While these definitions are certainly incorporated within intimacy, I believe there is more to intimacy. Creating intimacy includes three important characteristics, all of which I believe most human beings are capable. These three qualities are:
And, more importantly, while these traits may improve relationships with others, intimacy starts with the self. What good it is to be vulnerable, honest and compassionate with our closest people if we cannot access them towards ourselves?
One way to increase the three qualities in relationship with the self is to take some quiet time alone. Breathing deeply into the depths of the belly, feel the sensations that might be present in the body. Where are you feeling these sensations? What to they feel like? What thoughts or memories do they illicit? In doing this practice, we might be able to become vulnerable with ourselves – which means getting real about what we are really feeling and perhaps even why we are feeling such a way.
This leads to honesty – acknowledging those feelings and sensations, we could now begin to understand honestly from where our emotions are derived. Sometimes we might feel as though these feelings are caused by an external source and other times it may feel as though they are generated from our own thoughts, behaviours or actions. At times it might be difficult to know where the feelings arise from and often it could seem easier to believe that other people have caused such feelings. The truth is that seldom are our emotions a direct result of another’s actions – it just might feel similar to something which has been felt or painful in the past.
This is where compassion comes in – understanding that our responses to others are often sourced from past experiences and those around us are simply conduits for the emotions to flow once again. In being kind and soft with the self – understanding that I deserve love and kindness, then cultivating compassion for others becomes easier. Realising the source of our emotions can allow space for us to ease up on others. Another wonderful consequence of such realisations could be to understand that those close to us have their own emotional responses, resulting in taking things less personally, thereby feeling more compassion for others.
Making a regular practice of touching base with the self could improve relationships with others while creating a more balanced perception of the self. Relationships are an important part of daily life and self awareness can often be the key to smoother and more fulfilling relationships.