When it comes to the meaning of true intimacy, the play on words, INTO ME I SEE, is fundamental to developing good intimacy habits. Yes, they really are habits that we can learn to cultivate…and as with all good habits, when we put the time and energy into cultivating them we stand a great chance of a bumper crop!
Imagine that?! A bumper crop of intimacy?!
We figure some of you may be running away in terror – which is such a familiar response for one of us here at the iSpot!!! – but we also know that while the thought of intimacy and being seen can be terrifying, we simultaneously yearn for it.
As we know from delicious, personal experience, the ability to experience and create true intimacy upgrades everything in your life from a mediocre two-star event to a soul-quenching, heart-beating, life-affirming experience…
But why the heck would we need or want to create more intimacy with our SELVES, we hear you cry?!
Well, as with having great sex, the key to intimacy is the warm up, the foreplay, the groundwork, and getting in tune with the other person. Except that the person we need to get in tune with first when it comes to being able to do any kind of intimacy, is OURSELVES. After all, we need to know who the hell we are if we’re going to show up and be seen by others, right?
So, here are our top 5 Tips To Create More Intimacy With Yourself:
1. Check in with yourself…
Just as we check in with friends and relatives to see how they’re doing, checking in with yourself is crucial. We spend all day, every day with ourselves – those internal voices, the incessant head chatter – but that doesn’t mean that we’re really checking in with or truly acknowledging how we’re feeling.
Often we’re on autopilot; working, exercising, cooking dinner, being busy rather than just being. Instead of asking the vital questions about whether we’re happy, living a life we truly want to be living, or less dramatically, whether we actually want pasta for tea, we’re just getting on getting on.
So make a regular commitment to check in with yourself on a frequent basis, you can do a physical assessment from head to toe (“How’s my head feeling? How’s my neck feeling?” etc.), or have a conversation out loud with yourself “So Becky, how are you feeling today? Where are you feeling this in your body?”, or whatever works for you to check in with how you’re doing – we call this a micro moment of intimacy…tiny behaviours and habits that, when added up, can make a huge difference.
2. Practise radical honesty
Start practising radical honesty with yourself. You know the bits that are going on in your life that you purposely don’t look at? Start having a peek. Ask yourself why you don’t want to look at those parts, what it might mean, what it might cost you to go there, and what it might cost you to not…
We both know this place, intimately! After all, we spent 39 and 42 years hiding from the fact we knew we were gay, and not wanting to look into that scary place within us. There came a point however when we could no longer look away and had to be radically honest with ourselves about what the heck we were doing by not looking at that ‘secret’ part of us.
3. Know, intimately, the difference between the ‘real’ you and the ‘pretend’ you
There have been times in my life that I’ve really thought I knew who ME was, only to discover some time later that this me was a mix of defences built in childhood or reactions to various forms of societal narrative!
While this can be frustrating, we have to learn to roll with it. Self-hood is a life-long endeavour of defining and redefining who we are as more information comes to light and our wisdom, maturity and understanding of ourselves deepens and grows. (Well, that’s the theory!).
Many of us spend most of our days being ‘other’ – playing the roles we’re meant to be playing…mothers, colleagues, daughters, friends, wives…how much of the real you do you reveal in each role? Where are you still showing up as the ‘pretend’ you?
4. Stop being an island
Obviously taking a good, radically honest look at yourself can be tricky sometimes all of the time. We’ve been looking at ourselves through the same eyes for most of our lives and have built up a specific image of ourselves that can be hard to change, so entrenched in beliefs and ways of seeing that may no longer be very useful to us anymore. Getting help, and a different perspective, is a form of self care and also a way of taking FULL responsibility for ourselves and our happiness.
Working with a therapist, counsellor or coach – or simply engaging in deeper conversations with your partner and/or friends – are all great ways to get a fresh and experienced pair of eyes on your ‘self’ so you can make informed choices about who that self really is and what she wants!
5. Treat yourself like you’d treat your best friend
In other words stop being a mean-assed bully to yourself. Self-discovery can be exciting, liberating and life-affirming. It can also be painful, scary and bloody hard work.
Being able to be kind to yourself through change is the biggest gift and most helpful thing you can do for yourself. Who wants to look at this stuff if there’s someone leaning over your shoulder telling you you’re not doing it fast enough, well enough, deeply enough? Enough already from your internal bully.
Think about small things you can do to make sure you treat yourself kindly. Give yourself advice like you would a close friend that you care about. Whether that’s consistently telling the internal bully that ‘you’ll handle it, thank you’ and finding an affirmation that kicks that negative voice to the kerb – ‘I handle everything in the right way and time for me’ or ‘I love and approve of myself’, or valuing yourself enough to pay for coaching or therapy, or making time to journal your feelings. Whatever combination of kindnesses work for you – do them!
True intimacy is about being fully seen – Into Me I See – and that has to begin with you seeing you.
Whether that’s being more radically honest with yourself or seeking outside perspectives, cultivating daily practices and micro moments of intimacy to see yourself with clarity is the precursor to being seen by others. Now doesn’t that sound appealing?!