This is part four of a five part series on the fundamentals of compassionate consciousness. In the first entry, I wrote about how to listen to your own feelings and needs. In the second entry, I wrote about how after you embrace your own experience it becomes much easier to see and embrace the other person’s feelings and needs. And in the third entry, I encouraged you to let your guard down and get vulnerable which will help you get the connection you’re really looking for.
The fourth piece is how once we become vulnerable, the other person now can feel safe to get vulnerablet to. And in that moment you now have an oppourtunity for intimacy.
Intimacy. Its this experience of sharing your deepest nature with another human. Having someone witness your truth, and you witnessing their’s. And in this sharing and witnessing you build trust and connection. You create meaning. Intimacy is very precious and such a core need for all of us.
Every time you have a fight, big or small, there’s an oppourtunity for intimacy. Most of the time you’re stuck in trying to get what you want and so you miss this oppourunity to get to know this other person more and help them get to know you. And when we share our feelings and needs with the other person, and we listen to their feelings and needs, the fight radically shifts into this realm of intimacy.
Let me tell a story to show what I mean. This is a story about me and a friend in college who wanted to go out to a party. While I did not.
Bill: Come on man! It’ll be fun, why won’t you come out?
Me: I just don’t feel like it…besides it isn’t going to be that fun…it’s always just the same thing.
Bill: Well with that attitude you’re never gonna meet anyone. You gotta get out there and meet girls!
Me: That’s all you ever talk about! Girls, girls, girls….I just don’t want to go, okay??
Bill: You’re so boring on the weekends dude.
Me: I’m not boring! I just don’t want to go to the party.
etc…This continued for some time. This back and forth. Both of us getting more and more annoyed with each other, over something as small as “do you want to go to this party?” I don’t even remember now what the party was. But then I did something which changed it.
Me: You know Bill….I feel really sad and lonely right now. I want you to be able to accept me for who I am, that I’m not going to want to go out to parties all the time.
Bill was a little bit taken aback for a second.
Bill: Oh…well, of course I accept you dude, I’m your friend! But I’m worried that you spend too much time in the dorm, and that you won’t have enough fun and have a chance at dating someone.
Me: I really appreciate that you want me to have fun and to find a relationship; but I really feel so on edge and weird at parties…like I really have fun getting to know someone at a deep level and parties are just not that conducive to that. I just feel very uncomfortable and lonely at parties.
Bill: Well I still feel really guilty thinking about you staying here home alone again. I’m worried that you spend too much time alone, going out, being social is good it’ll help break up the monotony of life. But yeah I get it, you’re not a big party person. What if we go out tonight, and tomorrow we’ll stay in and watch a movie?
Me: Okay, sure.
Did you notice the shift? As soon as I got vulnerable about my sadness and loneliness, Bill stopped pushing me. He suddenly revealed his anxiety and concern for my well-being. And in that small moment we grew closer, we learnt about each other. We had intimacy.
Now of course this can take some time, and sometimes the dishes in the sink just need to get cleaned. But here’s the thing: healthy, happy relationships are built upon intimacy. A happy, healthy relationship isn’t necessarily one where everything is calm and there’s no fights. Its one where both people feel safe enough to share their deepest truth with one another. And so while some conflicts can be solved very quickly and simply, pay attention to when a conflict comes up over and over again. Or when a conflict seems to get blown “out of proportion”. Those are great indicators that there’s a lot more under the surface, and that you can get some real intimacy here.
KindCommunication.org is a project by a close friend of Wiki World Order, Alex Leach. WWO fully supports the study, practice, and teaching of non-violent communication as one of the core solutions which already exists.