“Games are a compromise between intimacy and keeping intimacy away.” Eric Berne. How can we create more authentic and intimate relationships that are not based on games or mere strategies? 

ADADSU eNews May 2016

The topic for this month is “intimacy”. What does intimacy mean to you? 

Does it mean being involved with someone romantically? Does it mean enjoying an authentic and fulfilling sex life? What does it mean to you to be intimate with someone?

What I mean here is actually not just sexual intimacy. But intimacy in terms of connecting in an emotional, physical and even spiritual way with others, ourselves and life in general. 

Someone put it this way: “Intimacy is the act of connecting with someone so deeply, you feel like you can see into their soul.” However, I would say it is not just the act of connecting with someone else, it is also important that we can connect with ourselves first. 

US stand-up comedian Garry Shandling once joked: “My friends tell me I have an intimacy problem. But they don’t really know me.” Though it may seem funny, this is the case for many people. 

Often we don’t really know ourselves; and what we do know we may not want to show to others out of some fear, may it be known or unknown to us.

In his book “Games People Play”, Eric Berne, the creator of Transactional Analysis puts it in a different way. He talks about how we use strategies (or games) that serve to attract and push away intimacy at the same time. 

We create these strategies as a way to survive and control our feelings and to some extent others. This is not meant in a mean or vicious way, it’s just that many of us feel uncomfortable with feelings and emotions that come up, especially feelings that don't make sense to us at the time. 

Many of my clients keep asking me “What’s the point of feeling it? It won’t change anything!” And yet, many of us know that if we keep denying what we truly feel underneath nothing changes either! And without knowing how we feel, we don’t know what we don’t want to do again or more importantly, what it is we truly want. 

Most people I see in my practice don’t trust the feelings that do come up. Suspicion and second-guessing follows a feeling that may come up. And I can really relate to that. Most of my life I felt the same about it. Facing our conflicting beliefs and getting in touch with our emotions can be REALLY uncomfortable. It can be extremely painful, especially for those emotions that were deeply buried at times to protect us feeling extreme pain when we were not able to handle it, e.g. after early losses or traumatic life experiences. We learned to disconnect from discomfort (uncomfortable feelings). That we buried these feelings or emotions doesn't mean they are not there or are not getting triggered (seemingly irrationally) at times.

And in a way this learned strategy of disconnecting from ourselves was once necessary for survival. However, it may now no longer be useful for us if we want to let go of these buried emotions, move on and leading a fulfilling life.

“Games are a compromise between intimacy and keeping intimacy away.” Eric Berne

To re-connect with ourselves in a more compassionate, empathic and non-judgemental way is not easy. But how can we encourage authentic relating to ourselves and to others? How can we enhance that “inner knowing” of what we are actually feeling to understand what the point is? 

I came across a nice podcast this week with Dr. John Amodeo who was interviewed about mindfulness and loving relationships

He explains that “connecting with self, with others and with life is part of the three sides of the same coin”.  

What also resonated with me in this podcast was Dr Amodeo’s view about the hazards of spirituality for some people. He describes how problems can arise when certain people are getting too attached to certain teachers or ways of practicing spirituality. In his view spirituality for some people can actually be used to avoid connection and relationships. This is something that some of you may have heard me talking about as “spiritual bypassing”. 

When he was asked in this podcast why he finds “spirituality a hazardous word” and what his definition or understanding of spirituality is, he explains: 

“The word spirit comes from the word breath. To me spirituality means being alive, being connected to what is, in the aliveness of being connected to life. So it’s not a spirituality where you’re just developing this serene disconnect… this kind of sereneness, this inner quiet that’s disconnected from relating. To me spirituality’s about connection, connecting with something beyond our ego, connecting with something larger than our self.”

He introduces the psychotherapy technique called “focusing”. Focusing is a mindful way to understand what you are truly feeling and wanting and to become more attentive and empathic to yourself and others. It is about developing a deep capacity for “checking-in” or “the felt sense” to make us more aware about what we are actually feeling.

For example, as we “focus” on a vague sensation we may notice, giving it attention and respect in a felt (somatic) way, the inner experience can become clearer and space can open up for new insights and unexpected possibilities. In a way this can be similar to somatic metaphor therapy. This means also trusting our inner knowing

Often we find ourselves self-sabotaging e.g. stopping ourselves doing something we would like to do. But when this happens, it is often linked to a part within us that believes if we were to continue with that something (that we want), it would end up hurting us in some way

This is often linked to beliefs that have been established a long time ago and are mostly unconscious. It leads us to emotional identification with that part, and most likely we are unconsciously in denial of the actual underlying emotion or feeling. This makes us stay stuck.

In my practice, I assist a lot of clients to come back to that trust or our inner knowing.

So much of our society and growing up take us away from that trust and understanding ourselves. What we want to nurture and create is a state of presence for acceptance, kindness and curiosity for ourselves and how we feel in the moment. When we nurture this capacity, relating to others becomes easier and more satisfying.

For more on this, have a look at the selected podcasts and videos (e.g. “the art of being yourself”) of this month, topped with a shorter yoga session at the end of this newsletter.  

See also this month’s nourishing recipe and meditation questions to increase your curiosity about yourself, so enjoy! 

This Month’s Meditation Questions For You

  • Are you satisfied with your life, emotionally, physically and sexually?
  • Are you stimulating and nurturing your creative passions?
  • What are you going to create or bring into the world this year?

These questions are very much linked to your 2nd chakra, the sacral chakra of creation. It is also the centre of feeling, emotion, pleasure, sensuality, intimacy, and connection. To be able to “connect” with others, we first need to be able to connect with ourselves.

Certain projects, experiences and people that stimulate us creatively can feed this energy. But likewise out of this energy, if we listen to it, projects and experiences can be born creatively.

Ask yourself: “Am I truly taking time and making space for me to connect with myself fully? Do I regularly check in to REALLY listen what I am feeling about certain situations? In intimate relating am I able to express what I need and want to satisfy me? How do I connect with others? Can I be fully present with myself as well as others? What is stopping me at the moment? What would I like to create and make happen going forward? What are the things that I could do to make this happen?”

The sacral chakra is predominantly associated with the colour orange. It can be useful to explore these questions if you do any form of meditation or seek a calm space and see what comes up when you try listen inwards to answer these questions.

(Watch this space as we will continue to explore more useful questions associated to other chakras in the next ADADSU eNews.) 

Below is another monthly recipe that corresponds to the colour for this chakra. Hope you enjoy this one as well as the mindful process of creating something nourishing and connecting the earth with your body in this way…

Of course, all of us could do with a little help in the process of connecting with ourselves more, to move forward and create the changes we want. If it is difficult to talk to family or friends about this, having a good therapist can be invaluable to talk things through and explore difficult feelings and challenges that keep us from fulfilling ourselves. If you need some extra support this month or know someone you care about does, do feel free to forward our details or contact us for a free initial call.
Enjoy connecting more authentically and creating something this month!
Recipe of the Month: (for colour orange) Stuffed butternut squash with quinoa, click here for the full recipe.
Suggestion: Add a tin of tuna or ½ a fish (e.g. fried sea bass goes well) to up the protein content for a more balanced meal.
YouTube Video of the Month: TEDx TALK - The art of being yourself with Caroline McHugh [26 minutes] Click here to access the video.
In her charming effortless and “Scottish” way, Caroline McHugh discusses the “art of being yourself” and how when someone says “just be yourself” isn’t as easy as it sounds and yet can be as easy as it sounds at the same time, if we find a loving and nurturing relationship to ourselves first to be able to relate in a healthier way with others.
2nd YouTube Video of the Month: Three Dirty Words: Choice. Confusion. Fluidity - Pam Gawler-Wright [18 minutes] Click here to access the video.

I came across this video when reviewing different aspects of sexual identity and relating to ourselves and others. This one was presented at the recent LGBT conference by Pamela Gawler-Wright. Though the topic is about sexual minority groups and this one is about bi-sexuality specifically ("Beyond Gay or Straight"), the chosen “three dirty words” of the presenter: fluidity, confusion and choice can be applied to many other areas of our lives when we feel stuck instead of living our life to the fullest and authentically. It is about accepting ourselves fully and in a congruent way that makes us worry less about what others think of us. This is not just about sexual orientation or any other “identity”. It can touch any aspect of our lives and is another way of expressing who we want to be or who we really are at the core. 

Podcast of the Month: Mindfulness and Loving Relationships with John Amodeo [40 minutes]  Click here to access the video.

Dr. Dave’s podcast series “Shrink Rap Radio” is probably one of the best psychology podcasts, and not just for practitioners. He has a vast collection of interviews on a wide range of topics. This one includes an interview on mindfulness and loving relationships with John Amodeo, PhD. It fits our month’s topic on mindful relationships and how important it is to connect “with self, with others and with life”. John also talks about the danger of “spiritual seekers” getting too attached to certain teachers or ways of seeking this spirituality but actually using it to avoid connection and relationships. He encourages us to be more “mindful” about this and develop a deep capacity for “checking-in” or developing the "felt sense" to make us more aware about what we are actually feeling.

If you like this podcast, another good interview to follow on from this topic is on Focusing with Ann Weiser Cornell, PhD (#214), which talks more about how to listen “inside” to know what we want and how we feel to connect with ourselves more.

Yoga Session of the Month: Connection & Energy Balancing Yoga Workout! [25 minutes] Click here to access the video.

This yoga session fits our theme this month and does not take too long and needs no subscription, therefore gives us fewer excuses to give it a try! Tara Carpino leads you through an easy to follow yoga session geared towards grounding our energy and re balancing ourselves for the day. This workout encourages connection with yourself and helps to balance energy, and also helps you to stay also helps stay active as well as building strength and balance.
Copyright © 2016 ADADSU Ltd, All rights reserved.

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