Emotional intimacy begins with deep self-knowledge. It’s the degree to which you can stand emotionally naked, unafraid of what is deep within. It is the ability to be yourself 100% without fear of harm or rejection. The better you know yourself, the more comfortable you are in your own skin. And, the more comfortable you are with yourself, the more comfortable you will be with others. To start this process, you’ll need to get in touch with the ways you’ve been emotionally wounded in your life. Armed with this knowledge, you will understand your “triggers” and be able to process your own stuff when others bother you. This is a necessary skill in order to have a healthy, emotionally intimate relationship with another person.
When an experience harms us, we develop a thought in response to it. Here is a fictitious example that demonstrates this dynamic. When I was growing up, my mom threw things when she got angry. My unconscious thought in response to these incidents was “She is crazy.” That’s a logical thought based on her unpredictable and explosive response to situations. As I aged and had experiences with other women who emotionally over-reacted to situations, my belief broadened into “Women are crazy.” It’s my mind’s way of protecting me from getting hurt. Now, fast-forward 10 years. I’m married and have a crazy mother-in-law (according to me). My “crazy” belief is now affecting my ability to get along with my mother-in-law which is negatively affecting my relationship with my spouse. If I’m unaware of my own childhood wound, my “crazy” belief and the subsequent emotional trigger, I will always feel it’s her, and not me. And, because of my belief, this issue will continue to cause problems in my marriage.
In order to get to know myself better, I can start by looking at the things that cause me distress and discomfort in my outer world today. Everything that is going on in my life, I have a hand in co-creating. From a larger perspective, anything that negatively affects me is somehow related to some aspect of myself that needs healing. In other words, my experiences in life are reflecting back to me my beliefs which were created by some hurtful incident in my life. Being able to honestly look at this is the first step in getting to know myself at a deeper level.
Another way to do this is to look back at your life from birth to now. List 50 incidents that have caused you discomfort, emotional pain or loss. From there, identify the top ten incidents that have caused you the most pain in your life. Then, pinpoint the top three. Select one of these incidents. Start to think about the thoughts, feelings and beliefs that developed within you as a result of this incident. Start to pay attention to how those thoughts and beliefs affect how you see others around you. Ask yourself these questions:
This is how you start to get to know yourself at a deep level. Once you know yourself, understand your triggers (wounds) and take the steps necessary to heal from the past, you will feel more comfortable in your own skin. This will enable you to be more emotionally available which will lead you to more meaningful, harmonious relationships in your life. Next week, we will look at the concept of Nurturing and its importance in your daily life.
This blog post was provided by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. from Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC. We specialize in developing business leaders and professionals by increasing their self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and overall effectiveness thereby increasing professional success and personal satisfaction in their lives. For more information, please go to aleadershipcoach.com.
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