October 10, 2015

How I Learned to Stop Letting a Fear of Intimacy Control my Life.


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For many years I was quite good at attracting emotionally unavailable men.

Whenever a relationship ended the go-to comment among my friends was, ”What was wrong with this guy?”

It was more or less always a version of him not being committed enough, not being open and available, being superficial or not being interested, which of course had to mean he was emotionally immature.

Over the years my perspective changed.

Looking back, I see there were good men in between. Loving, dedicated, committed and emotionally available men. That’s when I pushed them away. And I also realize that some of the times I was the one being emotionally unavailable and superficial. Running away when feelings got too intense for me to handle. Especially if the man was simply too nice to me, genuinely caring and loving, even.

It dawned on me a few years back. I have a fear of intimacy.

To help me grow, the universe sent me into these experiences. To let me become aware of my patterns. And life still sends me on these eye-opening encounters, helping me to become more authentic and true to myself. Deep down I have a fear that if I really show myself, flaws and all, I’ll be rejected.

Over the last five years, through working with men and women in tantric bodywork sessions, I know I’m far from being alone in this. Being real, open and daring to be vulnerable can bring out a fear in most of us. We’re afraid to not be liked, accepted or to be cast out. So we try to say the right things, to be the perfect person and look in a way so we blend in.

Interestingly I also noticed another way my fear of intimacy would show itself: If a boyfriend was being very sweet, and offering to do things for me, I would reject it and feel he was trying to take over my life. I felt he was controlling, to some degree even manipulating. It would make me retract and go into protective mode. The problem with this though is it kills intimacy. We can’t really connect to anyone through a defensive shield.

Finding out what might be the cause of this fear of intimacy, all though interesting, is not really that important to me. What seems much more important is learning a way to be more aware of the fear when it arises. Being more present in those moments and not allowing the fear to take over my life. I can’t say that I have overcome fear, rather learned to accept it and not give it the power to control my life.

I want to share with you just a few of the things that have helped me become, and stay, more present, so I no longer have to submit to the immense power fear can have when left unchecked.

I started listening to the voice in my head, and wow…there’s a lot of pointless talk going on. Most of the time it tends to be negative. Many, many times a day I catch the voice saying something unkind about me or others. It’s feeding into my weak spots and fear. Filling me with all kinds of statements that are just not true. Sometimes it’s very frustrating, and I’m doing my best to remember that the voice is not my enemy. I can choose to react on it or not.

The voice is more like a safety mechanism from the past designed to help us not get hurt, rejected, controlled or whatever the fear is attached to. Most of the times it’s running the volume too high and we have to turn it down, so that we can be present with what is instead of what was. When it comes to fear of intimacy it’s important to realize that it’s a fear based on old conditionings, not the realities as they are now. We have adapted our behavior and thoughts due to past hurtful circumstances or experiences, to the point where they’ve become automated reactions. This is why observing the voice in the head can be helpful to become more aware, and to identify the situations where the fear usually show up.

So we can listen to the voice in our heads, but remember we’re not the voice. We’re listening to what it has to say, the same way we’d listen to a friend telling us about something that happened in their life. Listen with a sense of compassion, not judgement. In this way we become more aware of what’s going on and can notice when fear shows up. Also we become able to see things more clearly and choose how to act according to the truth of the situation—not how it’s perceived, as seen through the lens of the past. In short, we don’t get absorbed in the mental drama.

Once I become aware of feeling fear, I focus my attention on my body, or rather, inside my body. I try to locate where in the body I feel fear and how it feels. Then I breathe into the area in my body where I feel fear the strongest. I mentally direct the breath to that area. For me it helps to visualize the air I’m breathing in as light. Maybe it’ll help you too. With our breath we create an expansion so the energy of the feeling can flow freely. If you notice your thoughts are trying to feed into the feeling, just let it go and simply continue to bring all of your attention on the sensation of the feeling in your body.

I believe we each have the ability—and responsibility—to help spread peace in the world, and it all starts with being at peace with ourselves. If we don’t allow fear to run our life we’ve come along way. Although I wish I could assure you that doing this work means you’d never be hurt again, it’s just not realistic. But if love and connection is what we’re seeking, we really have no choice but to dare to be more vulnerable.


Relephant Read:

Fear of Commitment, Fear of Intimacy.

How I Tackled the Chronic Voices in my Mind.

Author: Majbrit Villadsen

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Flickr/Shannon Kringen, Flickr/Britt-knee

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