Intimacy is like a mirror – exposing the parts of us we desperately try to avoid. These close, loving relationships are at once the most challenging and meaningful aspects of our lives.
These relationships (both romantic and not) influence so much of our lives. As the old saying goes – “can’t live with em, can’t live without em.” This week, we want to inspire some intentional thoughts on how these critical relationships can be catalysts on your journey to becoming your whole self.
INTIMACY IS YOUR GREATEST TEACHER
Deep love requires vulnerability. It’s the magic sauce that makes us feel close to someone. These vulnerable relationships teach us more about ourselves than any podcast, book, or YouTube video can.
Think about a time you got in a spat with a loved one (sibling, close friend, partner, etc.). Chances are, no matter the argument, you came out of it more self-aware and better equipped to love that person in the future. Learning to give and receive love requires us to face the areas we feel most unloveable. This reflective space is where true transformation can happen.
This week, I celebrated two years with my girlfriend. We’ve taken the mile marker as an opportunity to check in and celebrate ourselves for what we’ve grown together. Reflecting on how much I’ve learned about myself in this relationship is remarkable. From my lack of skin care to a deep struggle to receive love – this new awareness is evolving the way I show up every day.
It’s not always comfortable; intimacy rarely is, but facing your blind spots is a tremendous gift to your future self.
FEEDBACK IS A GIFT
“The trick to viewing feedback as a gift is to be more worried about having blind spots than hearing about them.”James Clear
What if we received feedback as a loving gift, not an attack on who we are? Giving feedback is not an easy task – it requires us to set aside our desire to be liked for a more profound yearning to be helpful. Many of our blindspots will naturally surface while growing close to someone. If we want to be proactive and not reactive, we must be willing to embrace feedback, both as the giver and receiver. Simple questions like “how can I love you better” or “how can I show up better for you right now” can create a safe space for someone you love to share candidly. If you feel a rift with someone, chances are the space hasn’t been made for them to feel heard.
STOP DEFENDING YOURSELF
Conflict happens in close relationships; no way around it. Our instinct when someone criticizes us is to jump to defense. This is our pride’s best effort to protect itself. It’s humbling to think about how much time I’ve wasted trying to defend myself and not listening and applying the feedback gifted to me. To avoid further conflict, force yourself to listen without responding. Ask yourself honestly, “is defending myself going to make anything better right now.” More often than not, people want to feel heard. If you can’t receive this feedback from the closest people in your lives, then who can you receive it from?
ASK FOR AFFIRMATIONS
Don’t trick yourself – we all need to hear uplifting words about ourselves. While these close people can serve our growth by exposing blind spots, they can also build us up with affirming words. I promise the people closest to you are prepared to share what they love about you. Lean on these people when you’re feeling down, and do the same for those you love. Like all things, we need to find balance.
BE PRESENT WITH YOUR PEOPLE
There’s nothing that inspires purpose like these deep, meaningful connections. Cherish the gift that these close relationships are to you. Be present with your people and never miss an opportunity to tell them you love them.
Is there someone you need to reach out to and create space for them to share? It may be uncomfortable, but chances are it’s exactly what you need to hear.