We all savor and enjoy our close relationships and we all greatly enjoy the intimacy of our connections. I’ve observed something recently in my interactions with people I’ve known for years and people I just met: Radical vulnerability breeds intimacy! We all have parts of ourselves that we’d rather not share. We’re afraid that these parts will not be accepted by others. So we can go through life hiding our full selves from others if we’re not careful. What do you think we get in return? We get people who share themselves with us, but not their full selves. Our relationships lack the depth and fullness that they could have.
Intimacy, the kind of intimacy that really fills us up, is a dance of trust. One person let’s their guard down a bit, the other person let’s their guard down a bit, and so forth. This can be a slow, gradual process or it can be quicker. I’ve met some people recently who were just open books right away. It was rather impressive. And really fun! I experienced their openness like an invitation to respond in kind. Surely, I couldn’t talk about the weather when they were talking about their profound joys and deep sorrows. It came naturally. I simply started chatting with this guy and this woman with an observation (on a book the guy was reading and on the jewelry the woman was making in her studio). Openness is shown not just in what we say, but also in our body language, the eye contact we make, and our overall presence. These two felt comfortable opening up with me right way because they could tell I was compassionate. With them open, it was fun game on. I got to share the full me and we had terrific conversations.
So let’s all work on something together today. Let’s all be more real, more of our full selves with everyone we interact with today, both people we are already in close relationship with and with others we are just meeting at work and elsewhere. We’re a culture of suppressed emotion and this suppression saps our life force and saps the quality of our interactions and relationships. Opening up is true freedom. Give it a shot.