Today, while listening to one of my favorite podcasts, I heard someone say that “intimacy is a function of our ability to handle anxiety.”
My mind was blown.
They were talking about romantic intimacy, but I think it also speaks to relationships of any kind: our relationship with ourselves, clients, friends and family, the Divine, the oak tree in our back yard, etc.
These relationships can be—and often are—just as intimate, especially when we regularly practice the process of getting curious.
Relationships are playgrounds in which we get to learn who we really are. Every relationship invites the questions:
How is the way I’m relating to this person or thing actually creating how I experience this moment?
What can I learn about myself by getting curious and honest about my experience?
How do I even get curious about what I’m experiencing in this moment?
And thus begins the inner conversation.
Hearing that sentiment on the podcast got me asking myself just how willing am I to be uncomfortable in relationship. I have to say, one of the most profound shifts I’ve experienced in my life recently has been getting curious about and leaning into my own discomfort.
This is what I ask myself: “What is it that I’m actually experiencing right now?” and “How am I relating to that experience?”
At first, I’m usually resisting my experience, struggling against it, or trying to hide it. But simply asking the question and getting curious allows my ribcage to expand and my heart to soften. It simultaneously enlivens and unnerves me. This is because I’m connecting with the life force of the pure present moment and, in doing so, I have no idea what will happen next. It’s a complete mystery.
Often times in the process of getting curious, I find that what I’m experiencing has nothing to do with the present moment but is a contractive visceral response I’m having to something that happened at a different time in my life. In these cases, I usually know that it’s time to do something creative to get into my body and explore what’s there—dancing, singing, painting, writing, breathing, and so on.
But in those moments when changing my circumstances isn’t available or I’m in the middle of a conversation with someone, I am learning to offer myself complete permission to feel whatever it is that I’m feeling—with acceptance to support its validity—and either sit with myself in it or be seen in the process. This process has allowed real transformative moments to come through for me and it has opened my capacity to help others during their difficult times.
The hardest part is letting go of what I think I should be feeling or any attachment to an outcome when I verbally express what I’m going through. This can be difficult especially in relationships because it means I will be seen!
But this vulnerability is the real medicine.
Being witnessed in the process of getting curious and leaning into the experience of the moment invites closeness, intimacy and cultivates deep and meaningful connection with whomever or whatever we are in relationship with—even ourselves.
I have come to see this process of getting curious as a function of faith. From an expanded perspective, it is equivalent to surrendering to the unknown and the mystery of life. Cultivating the willingness to experience the moment as it truly presents itself is opening to the love that connects us all and is saying to the universe, “I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I trust that I will be enlivened by it and grow through it. I trust that I am always growing into a better version of myself.”
For me, the magic happens when practicing curiosity as a function of faith not only in intimate relationships, but in every interaction in daily life. May our curiosity keep us connected to the lightness and innocence that is our true nature.
Author: Chelsea Fish
Apprentice Editor: Lois Person/Editor: Travis May