Intimacy Being close but separate, giving and receiving love
About Intimacy Love is a survival need. We are social animals and loving connection eases stress and ramps up oxytocin, providing a deep sense of well-being. Lust and early love cause dopamine highs, much like recreational drugs. After the initial false high, a bond may form, and then the memories of those early in-love moments nourish a lasting relationship. At that point, we settle in and find out whether or not we are compatible, and at that point we trigger each otherâ€™s early wires of attachment. Some of these wires cause power struggles, distancing and/or merging, and the loss of love. However, if we have the skills to rewire those old hurts, often the love deepens. Or we have the courage to leave the relationship because we have a sanctuary within us. We will hurt, but we will not be devastated forever. Regardless of the nature of our relationships, being at Brain State 1 favors intimacy, and that can be achieved using a few good tools.
Spotlight: The Feelings Check Tool Letâ€™s review the three questions we answer to prepare ourselves to initiate an effective Connect Tool.
How do I feel? Angry
Hungry / Full
Loved / Loving
Do what you need to do to get to Brain State One or Acceptance. What do I need? Logical need: ____________________________________ Deeper need: ____________________________________ Do I need support? If you do, ask “Would you please….?” 119
The Connect Tool The feeling of emotional connection comes when the emotional brains of two people resonate with one another. When we are intimate, we are aware of our own feelings and needs and the feelings and needs of another person. You are aware of yourself: how you feel and what you need. You are aware of the other person: how they might feel and what they might need. It is like the synchronization of a bicycle. When both of these â€œcyclesâ€? are spinning, we feel a loving connection to ourselves and to another person. We call that the Connect Tool.
The Connect Tool
How do I feel?
How do you feel?
What do I need?
What do you need?
This tool comes in handy in interactions with many people in life. When you are around someone, ask yourself, “How do I feel?” and “What do I need?” Then ask yourself, “How do they feel?” and “What do they need?” If either one of these two cycles shuts down, intimacy stops. We merge with them and lose ourselves or we distance from them and lose the connection. As you play with this tool, notice that you can do your part to create a moment of intimacy, even if another person does not. You are going through your day and you see a friend. You check in with yourself and ground yourself in your own feelings and needs. Then you open the emotional pipeline by thinking about how they might be feeling and what they might need. You can’t see into their brain, but you can give it a good guess. We all have mirror neurons that read the emotional state of other people. Imagine you open the emotional pipeline and feel warmth toward them, and awareness of them on an emotional level. You say a few things and they are rude to you. Or they are distracted and don’t open their emotional pipeline.
That’s fine. You know you have done your part. You have opened the emotional pipeline. Sometimes people open up back and sometimes they don’t. When we are stressed, all of us tend to have our Connect Tool shut down. We may connect with others in ineffective ways… or not connect at all.
Compassionate Love When people don’t connect with us, it’s probably because of their brain state. It’s just a brain state, and it will pass. Knowing this is very important, because although relationships can soothe us, our closest relationships not only can also bring us the most joy but also the most stress. Those who are close to us arouse the wiring of our early hurts. This includes our spouse, our close relatives, even our boss … anyone whose relationship we depend upon. The same is true for them. We bring up their wiring of early hurts, too, so they are more likely to be in stress. They are more likely to distance from us in stressful times or to do hurtful things. They are apt to be very needy, controlling, reactive and difficult at times. That’s stress for you!
Distancing and Merging When the brain is in stress, its priority is survival and we go to extremes in relationships. That’s true for all of us. Stress triggers us to be too close or too distant. Too Close (Merged) — Our boundaries get very thin. We only know how they feel and what they need. We lose track of how we feel and what we need. We’re too stressed! We only know what we want — which is for the other person to give us love, safety, comfort. We try to fix, manipulate or control them. We can’t find our own sanctuary, so we are demanding to use theirs. Too Distant (Disengaged) — Our boundaries get very thick. We only know how we feel and what we need. We don’t care how they feel and what they need. We’re too stressed! We only know what we want — for the other person to leave us alone. We judge them! We get as far away from them as we can. When we can’t find our own sanctuary, we try to find it from anything or anyone else … but them!
What are your tendencies when you are stressed? I distance. I merge. I do both. Iâ€™m not sure. What are the tendencies of other people who are close to you? They distance. They merge. They do both. Iâ€™m not sure.
The Effective Repair Relationships go through growing pains over time. To stay close but separate means staying aware of your own feelings and needs. It means being aware of their feelings and needs, too. It means being close but still keeping your most important connection with yourself. That gives you a reservoir of love and strength that is the basis for healthy relationships.
In normal, healthy, loving relationships, people have conflicts. It helps because it keeps our boundaries intact. We have feelings and needs that they don’t like. They have feelings and needs that we don’t like. We’re not just one “blob” but are separate. We don’t lose who we are just because we are in a relationship. Sometimes during conflict, we say and do things that we later regret. That is normal. Afterwards, we take our time to connect with our sanctuary, and return to Brain State 1 or 2. Then, when we are ready, we do a very important thing: We do our part to repair the rift. We approach the other person when we believe that they are in a brain state in which they can hear us. We say what we regret. We affirm our love. We don’t shame ourselves. We don’t shame them. We learn from the experience.
I feel guilty that I treated you badly. I am sorry. Next time when I am that angry, I will go for a walk rather than get into a fight with you. I feel sad you said that, but I know my part. I blamed you for what I did. I am sorry. I love you. I hope you will forgive me. I love you. I don’t want to fight with you. I’m sorry for my part in it. Let’s start again. You are important to me. 125
The Sandwich: Making an Effective Request What if you need to make a request? Just use 1-2-3 Connect, but as part of the second step, be assertive, and use this “Sandwich.” Bread (Honest empathy): I appreciate that . . . I care that . . . Meat (Effective Request): I feel . . . I need . . . Would you please. . .? Bread (Honest empathy – again!): I appreciate . . . I love . . .
Maria, I appreciate that you are tired. I feel sad because I have no ride to the doctor. I need a ride. Would you please give me one? I know you are busy, too. Kevin, I appreciate that you are stressed. I feel angry when you say those things to me. I need you to know how I feel. Would you please tell me how that is for you to hear? I love you very much. Dave, I know you are really busy. I feel . . . worried that I’m not exercising. I need you to support me in getting my exercise. Would you please take care of our daughter for 30 minutes so that I can exercise? I know that won’t be easy for you. I would be very grateful for your help.
Requests are challenging. The key is to be assertive, not passive or aggressive. That means keeping in mind how they feel and what they need and how you feel and what you need. Also, there is no benefit to tangling with someone when they are stressed! So check their brain state as well as your own. Before making a request, be sure youâ€™re in Brain State 1 or 2, then ask yourself: â€œIs it a reasonable expectation that something good will happen by making this request right now?â€? Only make the request if it is! The Emotional Pipeline: An Intimate Connection in 10 Minutes! Many couples wake up in the morning or re-connect in the evening by taking 10 minutes to listen to one another do Emotional Housecleaning. They use the pocket reminder to remember the 8 feelings. Many friends use it, too. They sit face to face, with connection body language, knee to knee, leaning toward one another and LOOKING EYE TO EYE &IRST ONE PERSON COMPLETES THE 8 sentences, then the other does the same thing. No interrupting. No unasked for advice. It opens the emotional pipeline and it only takes 10 minutes!
Then we collect a Joy Point from having done our best to repair. We remind ourselves that relationships are sometimes difficult and that nobody has to be perfect. We remind ourselves that we will give love stopping short of allowing abuse to occur.
Collecting Intimacy Moments When you awake in the morning, say to yourself, “I am creating JOY in my life!” Then, as you go through your day, stay checked in and watch for moments of intimacy to occur! When they do, you get a Joy Point, and can feel surges of pleasure in your body. To get more Intimacy Moments, use the 1-2-3 Connect Tool.
The 1-2-3 Connect Tool Step. 1. Check In Before you connect with someone, connect with yourself. Appreciate that each moment of connection can bring rewards, but it has risks, too. So connecting with yourself creates safety from within. Check in and get to Brain State 1 or acceptance. If you find you are in a stressed state, expect less. A social “hello” may be all you can manage. If you are at 5, connecting may not be effective. You’re apt to distance or merge. Consider taking a break and connecting with this person later. 128
Step 2. Use the Connect Tool Be aware of your own feelings and needs. Open the emotional pipeline (your emotional awareness of another person) and be aware of how they feel and what they need. If their Brain State is at 1 or 2, connecting is easy. If they are in the more stressed states, it is more difficult. When they are at Brain State 4 or 5, change your expectations. Their reptilian brain is in charge.
My husband is at Brain State 5. I think I’ll wait to bring up the problem with our credit card. Oh, my son is at Brain State 5. I won’t judge him. It scares me that he is so angry, but I’ll connect with the sanctuary inside. I won’t yell at him. My friend is at Brain State 2. It’s a great time to talk about our babies and share our joy.
Step 3. Collect a Joy Point! Intimacy is challenging. Say to yourself some kind words, such as â€œgood try!â€? or â€œYou did the best you could.â€? afterwards, and feel a surge of joy in your body. That helps strengthen the wiring of connection, even if they didnâ€™t open their emotional pipeline. Your capacity for intimacy is increasing. YOU are strengthening your own intimacy skills. As you move through our day, anticipate moments of joy from intimacy. They are sparks of pleasure, the connection between the emotional brain of you and ANOTHER PERSON &EELING LOVE FOR ANOTHER CREATES THESE sparks of pleasure within your own brain, even if they do not return that love in that moment. Intimacy is one of the greatest joys in life.
Emotional Evolution: Love The fifth core circuit of emotional evolution is based on love. In that moment of stress, the false generalization that is encoded in the brain is: I cannot love. 4O REWIRE IT YOU CAN DO ANOTHER 'RIND )N &IRST STATE the reasonable expectation, then the essential pain, and finally the earned reward you will receive for accepting it. Core Expectation: I can love. Essential Pain: Some people may reject me. Earned Reward: Intimacy
I watch television and shut down emotionally when Iâ€™m stressed. My wife is used to it, but then we drift apart and lovemaking becomes less frequent. I use this Grind In: I can love. She may reject me, but I wonâ€™t reject myself. The reward? Maybe a little more intimacy? I know that I get my love from within, but when Iâ€™m stressed I merge and get so needy. I hate that! I start my Grind In with the first core circuit and go from there. I use the core expectations: I do exist. I am not bad. I do have power. I can do good. I can love. My body relaxed. I can stop merging. 131
Brain Fitness Exercise Consider adding to your exercise plan some form of exercise that increases flexibility and your range of motion in your joints. EBT offers yoga as one option, with a program of Eudonic Yoga developed by EBT Provider and Director of Clinical Research, Arinn Testa, PsyD. There are many other options for increased flexibility. The point is to enjoy your body, and to use it in ways that bring you more joy. Joy Foods Consuming enough essential fatty acids is important to brain fitness, and it staves off the drive for sugary foods. Eating sugared drinks, especially juices and sodas, which are high in fructose, clogs the liver and increases risk of hypertension, diabetes and high lipids. Add small amounts of healthy fats to your food and notice that the fruits and vegetables satisfy you more, and your hunger decreases. A small handful of nuts, a tablespoon of oil on a salad or a bit of nut butter on a pear or apple add to the joy of life.
Healthy Fats Hazelnut