Past relationships; for example within the family, in school, with church etc and most importantly parents and carers, will play a powerful role in forming the way you are as a person. You will be the person you are because of the swings and roundabouts from your childhood. Once you are an adult it takes courage and insight to recognise that you are the builder of your own personality, and to own that you are in charge of your own destiny.
However, remember that you are who you are because of what you observed within your family system. You do what you do mainly because you made decisions as a child and these decisions will be about yourself; for example you may have decided that you are ‘stupid’ or that ‘you are not loveable’. You may have decided that other people ‘don’t care about you’ or ‘that others cannot be trusted’. This we call low self esteem. You may have high self esteem in other areas and not in others.
Perhaps you have decided the world is an unsafe place and view life as frightening or dangerous. These decisions will have affected the way you then behave, think and feel in relation to the world around you.
If in order to get on in lifeyou may have decided it would be best not to let others know aspects of yourself. Hidding your own sense of worthlessness. Finding the inner resources to protect and take care of yourself in all sorts of difficult situations, this is your defence to protect yourself from any future hurt.
The bad news is those decisions made in order to self protect, in the long term could likely be self destructive and damaging to both yourself and your relationships in the here and now. The good news is you can change and you can redecide. You can broaden your view of yourself, change the way you see others and the world around you. In other words you can shift from a limited view of life to a great wide open walkway full of choices.
In order to improve your relationships with others you must first understand yourself. You must also learn the meaning of love and Intimacy.
When I considered writing about love and Intimacy in relationships I instinctively linked them together without thinking why. I suppose up until formulating ideas for a book I had unconsciously identified them as the basic concept in any relationship. However there is a difference. Love conjures up some kind of emotional attachment, whereas intimacy is a sharing or a closeness of the mind and spirit.
Love is to have a great attachment to and affection for another. To have a passionate desire, longing and feeling for another. It is an intense longing or emotion; it’s a feeling of warmth, fondness and regard for the other person, place or thing.
Love is also about compassion, a deep understanding and acceptance, with love we show concern and empathy for whatever the other is experiencing in the moment to moment interaction and it is a sense of belonging and concern in that moment and generally. I see love as an intelligent energy that wants and seeks unity and pulls towards that unity.
As far as intimacy is concerned it is a close and warm friendship or a deep understanding personal relationship and it is characterised by…
A close or warm personal relationship, a sharing of deep individual and private moments, and it's having a profound and unusual knowledge of the other or sharing something that is intrinsic.
It is also a way for people to come together and express authentic feelings without holding back. Intimacy could be seen as a merging of oneself with the other, not in the engulfing sense but in the contact sense in any moment when two or more people are seeking to share with other/s.
I believe that in order to feel truly close and intimate with someone and to be completely open to love and closeness one needs to be reasonably self aware, that is able to express oneself spontaneously, this does not mean shout out the first thing that comes into your head although that can have a wonderful childlike quality. No it means to overcome the fear of saying what is in your heart. It means no more adapting to please, no more being afraid of saying what you want or what you hope for, just in case the other rejects you.
Many of us are afraid of intimacy, afraid to love, afraid to be close to another or be dependant upon another. Not merely with other humans but even with pets. I have heard some say they won’t take on a dog or a cat because they have short lives and they wouldn’t want to lose something they have grown to love.
It you have experienced loss and grief you may have decided, that it was so painful you don’t want to go through that again and you are able to justify your reasoning with the idea of it being too painful. So because of grief you may have given up the concept of feeling love and being loved! Being cautious and fearing the inevitable loss of something you might grow to love.
- Why get into relationships only for them to end?
- How do I learn to take the risk?
- Do you hide your feelings about others?
- Do you experience scare of revealing what you really think?
- Do you hold back from showing care and loving contact because you are afraid of letting the other know how you are feeling?
All of the above are more likely to be about fearing the closeness, and the love and the intimacy which goes with relationships in case you lose it.