The words “intimate” and “intimacy,” conjure up scenarios of sexual or at least romantic relationships. What about a relationship with yourself? Sexual? Possibly. Romantic? Could be. Selfish? Not at all. There is so much more. Just how well do you know yourself? Our society and culture bombard us with rules about who we should strive to be, what constitutes a life of happiness. Who do you want to be? We all are universally unique. Feelings, preferences, and emotional expression are part of the human experience. They manifest in myriad ways with everyone. Developing a vibrant life of self-intimacy can transform your relationship with yourself and with others.
What is self-intimacy?
The awareness of your innermost thoughts, feelings, and preferences and honoring them with intentional living from that perspective. This fluid, evolutionary way of being is about lived experience rather than a lifestyle. The attitude and acts of seeing oneself as a whole person and treating oneself accordingly are paramount. It is who you are at your core which informs and reflects how you move in the world and interact with others as well as who you are when you are alone. Your relationships in every area of your life take on deeper meaning.
When you know who you are, then you are more emotionally equipped to handle life’s up and downs. You give yourself compassion while holding space for integrity and accountability. In your relationships with others, you draw healthy boundaries and self-advocate. You show up in relationships as your authentic self, the real you. Self-intimacy leads to self-acceptance and self-sufficiency.
Where does self-intimacy come from?
Self-intimacy is innate in every human being. We are hard-wired for the whole gamut of likes, dislikes, mannerisms, feelings, and emotional responses. Of course, these traits also are influenced by our culture, relationships, and experiences throughout our lifespan. So, we are an inseparable mix of natural and learned traits, values, and opinions. We cultivate the process through introspection and reflection, interpreting our body’s responses to various experiences. We learn to trust our motives and decisions.
Self-intimacy is another, deeper level of self-awareness that goes to the heart of self-soothing and self-nurturing. Here, there are nuances of attitudes and behaviors toward yourself that you may or may not divulge to others. Your relationship with yourself is the deepest, most personal relationship you have. Knowledge of the essence of your existence is a powerful form of self-awareness. Intimacy is only as public as you are willing to share with others.
What self-intimacy looks like.
Self-intimacy is not an issue, concern, or problem to be solved, but is how you live your life daily in a state of perpetual self-curiosity, self-awareness, insight, and wisdom. Self-awareness shows you the gift of you to humanity as well as the gift of others to humanity. Everyone has worth and is worthy of compassion, respect, dignity, and graciousness. You are aware of who you are and what you have to offer to humanity, and what you need and want from humanity in return. Self-intimacy leads to intimacy with others. You are comfortable with vulnerability in yourself and others. Your actions are congruent with your thoughts and feelings.
Self-care is important to nurturing yourself, so you can be available to nurture others. You experience a sense of contentedness with who you are even as you recognize areas in your life you want to improve. Balance and harmony are important. You are neither arrogant about your accomplishments nor do you beat yourself up for mistakes and failures. Life becomes simpler as you learn your needs and how to
cultivate the best ways to meet them. Self-soothing in times of stress becomes second-nature. You more than anyone else knows what makes you feel better and how to accomplish a sense of serenity. Fears and doubts become fewer and more readily resolved. Your relationships become smoother and more mutually fulfilling. You are attuned to your body’s responses to thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
Ways to cultivate self-intimacy
The thought of self-intimacy may make you cringe. Achieving deep intimacy is a gradual, life-long process of attention to your needs, wants, and responses to experiences. The initial steps may feel daunting. You begin with self-examination which can be unnerving at first. There is no need to hurry. Do only as much as your comfort level. However, stretching a bit beyond the point of comfort boundaries will give you confidence to keep going.
Open-hearted curiosity is the key here. You create within yourself a sacred space of privacy where you explore, rejuvenate, and observe the world around you. With time and practice you will gain a level of comfort, even excitement, in self-exploration. So, be patient, kind, and gentle as you approach self-intimacy and seek ways to honor and nurture yourself.
Following are a few exercises to nudge self-intimacy, all of which involve your trusty journal. Allow yourself to be free to express your needs and desires. Try to approach your sessions without judgment. Remember, the goal is the journey of self-discovery. Because self-intimacy is an ever-unfolding process, there is no endpoint, only more exciting discoveries.
- Lightly stroke your shoulders, arms, hands, thighs, legs, and feet. Write how your own touch feels to you and how it differs from the touch of others.
- What awakens your other senses—taste, smell, sight, sound, imagination, your sixth sense? Isolate each one at separate times and write about them.
- If you could have everything you need like, and want, would they be? Make a list of material possessions and interpersonal traits.
- Write a list of things you want to change about your life. Simply list them without judgment. Develop a simple, incremental plan.
- What have you always wanted to try? Where have you wanted to visit?
The point of all of this is to embark on a journey of self-discovery. Self-intimacy is about more than sexual or romantic relationships, although the element is integral. You become free, in all your relationships, to be who you truly are. So, get and stay curious about yourself. There is a wonderful you awaiting your discovery. Enjoy. Happy Journaling.
Author bio: Billie Wade is a writer living in central Iowa. She is the creator and founder of Journaling to Heal, a program she designed to help people as they travel their journey of healing from emotional stress and trauma. Her background, education, and experience enhance her innate compassion and reverence for other human beings. She shares her strength and wisdom on www.journalingtoheal.com.
Contact her at email@example.com