What does intimacy mean to you?
Sex? Affection? Companionship? Honesty? Authenticity? Commitment?
All of which sits under the umbrella of one of our most fundamental human needs:
We humans are wired for it so no wonder we all crave it!
We thrive in friendships, live in tribes and families, love in couples, work in groups…
Yet there is so much loneliness, depression, broken relationships, and disconnection!
So what’s going on?
The answer as I see it lies in an unwillingness to be vulnerable...
...a fear of showing up and being really seen because we have convinced ourselves that the most important thing is shielding ourselves from hurt.
We’ve turned vulnerability into weakness and guardedness into strength.
I’m not saying that protecting yourself from pain is a bad thing…
but I am saying that if you shut down to vulnerability you also shut down to the possibility of love, intimacy, and connection…
...because they come to us through the same door.
Intimacy = ‘In to me see'.
...See my frayed edges, my secrets, my shadows, my fears, my affection, my undefended, authentic self....
This level of vulnerability opens us to experiences, people, and uncertainty...
And yes, it can be terrifying at times...
and yes, it is often the last thing we want others to see in us, even though it's the first thing we look for in them!
Vulnerability builds trust, closeness, and a sense of belonging.
It is the key to intimacy.
This is key to being able to engage vulnerably and live wholeheartedly. If you don’t believe you are worth acceptance and love then this gives others the power to hurt you. If you know your worth then being vulnerable is really not such a big deal because you trust that you have your own back.
Shame gets in the way of vulnerability because it zooms in on our flawed self, rendering us alone and struggling. Guilt involves genuine mourning of our mistakes and making amends, knowing that imperfection and ‘not being enough’ is a universal, shared experience and we’re all in this together.
People escape or numb their fear and shame in different ways. Sometimes these avoidance tactics can become unhealthy daily habits or even dangerous addictions. Become well attuned to the way you feel right before you bolt, attack, or numb out. Get to know your own signals and triggers to help you show up and be more vulnerable instead next time.
Scary maybe but seriously it’s where the magic happens! Get familiar with the feelings of vulnerability. Stay curious about your experience. Say hello to nervousness, embarrassment, awkwardness. Feel the energy in your body, emotions, and notice your thoughts. Don’t push anything away.
Trading authenticity for safety means giving up on love, connection, belonging, and joy. Embracing vulnerability may be risky but not nearly as dangerous as a life spent teetering around the edges of something important or wanting more but never dropping the guard enough – being vulnerable enough – to let it intimacy in.
PS Are you longing for more intimacy? or want support in showing up with more honesty and vulnerability in your life?
I can help. Contact me here.
PS If you're already familiar with NVC then you are invited to come along to my fortnightly workshop to Connect, Refresh & Integrate your NVC tools and skills.