Stop arguing and enjoy real intimacy

What is the meaning of life? It is emotional intimacy. Emotional intimacy and connection are the most important things to humans. Without emotional connection a baby will die. When an adult is lacking emotional intimacy, they will become depressed and suicidal, even if all their other needs are being met. As far as we know, we are the only meaning-makers in the universe, and therefore emotional intimacy is the most important thing in the universe; not money, not power, not beauty, not resources, but emotional intimacy.

We’re all seeking to be seen, heard, understood, appreciated, valued, connected, loved, adored, cherished, and validated. That’s what we all want, even if we think we’re trying to get more success, more money, more security, more meaningful work, more notoriety, or more leisure time.

So when we get into arguments with people, it’s typically because we’re not getting our emotional connection needs met. The problem is that most of the time we either are not aware of what our needs are, or we are scared of being rejected if we reveal them. We have learned to be ashamed of these primal needs that we inherited from our mammalian ancestors. I have written about shame and how to rid yourself of it before. When we shamefully hide what is really going on with us, we feel emotionally isolated, and we also create conditions that lead to further and deeper emotional isolation. Many couples consist of two people who are highly dependent on each other yet fundamentally emotionally isolated from each other, and from everyone else.

It is important for you to practice being aware of how you are feeling inside your body when you are having a disagreement with someone, and to experiment with revealing what is really true for you. When you focus on revealing these things that are deeply personal, and that you can be sure are true, such as “I feel hurt,” you are much less likely to be perceived as attacking, and much more likely to bring the cascade of reciprocal attacks to an end.

When you reveal what is most true for you in the present moment, it not only stops you from attacking, and makes you more vulnerable and less threatening, it also begins to build a foundation of true emotional intimacy and connection, the very thing that everyone is seeking. The other person will also then be more likely to reveal what is really true for them, further deepening a foundation of emotional intimacy.

When you have built these kinds of strong emotional foundations in your relationships, you will find that you are able to weather extreme adversity while feeling secure and supported. You, and the people that you are connected with, will then be more capable of handling the very adversities that you once argued about.

Discover your hidden treasures

You already have everything you seek but you do not know this because it is wrapped in shame. Shame is the feeling that part of you is unacceptable. Shame says that what is wrapped up in shame is terrible and must not be looked at. In reality, if you can unwrap the bundle of shame, inside it you will find a glowing, valuable part of yourself.

As a child you were completely wonderful, and you presented this wonderfulness to the world without thinking about it. Because you had imperfect parents, sometimes they struggled and suffered, and could not see you and reflect back to you how wonderful you were. At those times, the part of yourself that you were presenting was experienced as being rejected and was labeled as unacceptable. Without realizing it, you stored away an amazing part of yourself in a veil of shame.

As you unwrap these packets of shame in yourself, one by one, you will discover increased energy, empowerment, and enjoyment of life. The things you thought you had to pine after will be given to you automatically.

The first step in releasing shame is to notice when you feel shame. When you notice that you feel embarrassed or notice that you are trying to hide something, you can remember that it is an opportunity to release shame and recover an important lost part of yourself. Practice generating the courage to take the risk to reveal the part of yourself that you have been hiding. Present it to the person that you most want to hide it from. You are implicitly asking, “Is this lovable?”

This act of revealing your hidden parts is motivated by your deep desire to know yourself and to unconditionally love yourself. The very act of revealing a part is in itself validating and self-loving. Sometimes you may experience less than an unconditionally loving response from others, but usually you will be surprised by how accepting others are of these parts of yourself. You will soon find that these parts of yourself are actually your most valuable, lovable parts.