I still own a dictionary!!!
I love words because they are so powerful and when use properly can make us feel so understood and cherished and when used to hurt can stay with us forever like wounds that will never heal. Sitting down today and thinking about intimacy and what it means, I wanted to start out with its definition and Webster let me down!!! It gave me: “the state of being intimate, something personal or private in nature.” So I went to dictionary.com to get a better one:
- the state of being intimate.
- a close, familiar and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.
- a close association with or detailed knowledge or deep understanding of a place, subject, period of history, etc.:
- an act or expression serving as a token of familiarity, affection, or the like:
- an amorously familiar act; liberty.
- sexual intercourse.
- The quality of being comfortable, warm, or familiar:
Now that is a full definition!
For me, the word intimacy evokes a concept of layers like the word boundaries. There are a lot of different kinds of intimacy; knowledge and understanding, touch, familiarity, care, warmth, etc.
I often run into people working really hard in different kinds of relationships and they feel like they are working really hard and still failing. In the definition from dictionary.com (by the way, I really enjoy their words of the day) I hear a softness, almost tenderness in the definition. Which leads me to believe that the people we have close to us should perhaps be treated with softness and tenderness and who is closer than YOU?
So often the people I work with that are struggling with their relationships with others are also tormenting themselves. Who on Earth could you be more intimate than with yourself? Read the definition again; you can choose to be affectionate and loving to yourself, you can have a detailed history even if you don’t fully understand its meaning, there can be amorous comfort and warmth, etc. But I a lot of us aren’t kind to ourselves, a lot of us do not treat ourselves with softness and tenderness.
If you aren’t kind (different than nice) to yourself, can you be kind to others?
I’m planning to talk more about the other forms of intimacy in future posts but for now let’s ponder this question. If you are not kind, tender, caring of yourself can you really give that to others? My guess is that you could only give a limited amount and once you have used that all up, no one get’s what they want.
So how can you increase your intimacy with yourself?!
I heard my grandfather once say, “there is more than one way to skin a cat.” (I got us lost and was trying to wing directions before maps were on smart phones.) So there are a lot of different ways to get to know yourself and improve your self-compasion but here are some evidence based approaches that I really like:
- meditation (I have an entire blog on this)
- resolving or challenging cognitive dissonance
- exercise/increased physical activity
- balanced work/life (I know, easier said than done)
- finding hobbies and then making time for them
- spending time with people that make you feel like it is good for you to be who you are
The list goes on and on and you may be doing one or more of these. But just like going to the gym to meet your fitness goals, you can’t go once per month and expect to look for feel differently. The more often and in-depth you do these things, the more likely you are to feel the results.
(I know this is really silly but it made me laugh!!!!)