Intimacy begins with knowing yourself.

כַּמַּיִם הַפָּנִ֣ים לַפָּנִ֑ים כֵּ֤ן לֵֽב־הָ֜אָדָ֗ם לָאָדָֽם

“As water reflects the same face back as shown, so does the heart of one person respond to the other.” Mishlei (27:19):

It may seem a little paradoxical, but the first step in achieving intimacy with others is getting comfortable with yourselfIf we are going to experience intimacy (that is, to reveal ourselves), to some extent,* we have to know ourselves and be comfortable with ourselves.

“To some extent” because nobody knows himself completely and nobody is completely comfortable with him/herself. The effort to truly know yourself is a lifelong effort.

Understanding yourself provides a foundation for:

  • managing yourself
  • spotting emotions in others
  • and managing relationships in that situation.
  • Self awareness is about understanding ourselves and knowing what pushes our buttons (in both good and not such good ways).

In precious moments of solitude and silence, undisturbed by the comings and goings of the world, we are able to develop a sense of our legitimate needs, our deepest desires, and our talents and abilities.

The first step toward experiencing true intimacy is getting comfortable with yourself and learning to enjoy your own company.

In one way or another, most people are not comfortable with themselves (yet) and their discomfort with themselves can limit the way they experience intimacy.

Important points to reflect on:

Your past (people you worked for, authority figures, parents and family, role models, etc.) impacts who you are now.

Most of our inner drive, and certainly the way we react to others, comes from our own past experiences.

Our past and our self-image play a large part in how we choose to interpret other people’s behaviors. More importantly, they also determine the way we act and the effect we have on others.  This is commonly spoken about as triggers*.

Trigger: trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma.

We each have our own individual behaviors that shape how people perceive us.

Such behaviors often stem from our backgrounds or demonstrate what we value.

Your behaviors are based on:

  1. Lessons you learned about what is acceptable
  2. Your level of needs for affection, warmth
  3. Your beliefs about self, life, other people
  4. Your inner voice
  5. Your ways of thinking
  6. The lifestyle you seek
  7. The way you want to be seen by others
  8. Your goals and sense of purpose
  9. Things you dismiss, reject or find difficult to deal with.

The first step is to consciously acknowledge the essential truth of the human condition. While the human person is wonderful and capable of extraordinary things, we are all broken.

We are all imperfect.
When we allow ourselves to reflect adequately on the truth that we all have faults and failings, we will grow more and more comfortable with ourselves, and more and more comfortable in the company of others.

Think about this:

 

Do you tend to do any of these? If you do, how frequently does it happen?

  • Unconsciously ignore or push feelings, problems or difficulties out of my mind.
  • Behave in ways that do not match the way I really think of feel.
  • Become childlike or defensive.
  • Rationalize away things that make me feel bad or unsatisfied.
  • Take out my feelings on others.
  • Represent my own thoughts or feelings as the thoughts or feeling of others.


Help your spouse get to know themselves

Think about something you recently observed or discovered about your spouse.

  • Share: “I have been noticing what seems to be a connection to you doing [whatever*] and a [situation*]. Am I getting that right?”
  • “What might I do to help you in that situation?/ What might I do to support you in that area?”
  • “What should I avoid doing in that situation/ area?”

*describe as objectively as possible

Some things you might observe:

  • Something they like to do (hobbies, etc.)
  • Something that helps them calm when stressed
  • Something they do when starting to feel overwhelmed
  • Something they do when they don’t want to be where they are
  • First thing they like to do after a long day
  • What they do when they are not in the mood of doing a household chore
  • What they do when they get annoyed by something you do
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