I melted at the sight of him.
Not only was he gorgeous, but the things he said made me feel immediately at ease. Until one day, when he said, “I love and adore you. You’re beyond beautiful.”
That’s when my body shut down.
Instead of celebrating his adoration, I began to feel scared to death, too vulnerable to speak. I had wanted this magical intimacy with a man for what seemed liked the better part of a decade, but when it finally appeared, I wanted to run away. Far, far away.
“What’s happening to me?” I wondered.
Over the next few weeks, I would continually reject my mate. I began to avoid his phone calls. I felt terrified of being hurt and afraid of being taken advantage of. I didn’t want to be heartbroken or rejected, despite the fact that he had just told me the very words I dreamed my ideal partner would say.
I treated him like he was a rival, rather than a lover.
As his text messages became less frequent, I realized that I would soon lose him if I didn’t push through this feeling of being emotionally paralyzed.
I attended a workshop with renowned relationship expert, Rori Raye. From there, I began to understand that we often deal with intense emotional exchanges by disconnecting from our bodies and fleeing behind hidden forts we built decades earlier in order to feel safe.
Often, this fear started in childhood, be it from a dysfunctional family environment, experiencing sexual abuse, or even being bullied by peers. Without the right tools to process our feelings in a healthy way, we did what we could to cope, and usually, that involved dissociating from our entire body.
The cognition behind this is that we’re afraid of making mistakes, being not lovable, anticipating rejection, or being judged by how we carry out partner interactions.
Compelled by what Rori was saying, I immediately enrolled in her training program to become a relationship expert, both in hopes of improving my own issues with intimacy, as well as to prevent other women I knew from having to go through the same types of challenges.
After six months of training—and putting my learnings into practice—I discovered that the best way to have a healthy relationship is first to connect with my own body.
It’s essential for you to truly be in your own body. This not only enables you to connect physically with your partner, but it also provides invaluable insights as to whether the feelings you both share are genuine.
Our bodies deliver answers to questions our mind may not even be ready to ask if we know how to tune in to listen to the hints.
That’s why I created a process, which will help you first and foremost connect to your body so that you can understand your feelings, and from there, learn how to better negotiate the vulnerabilities within a relationship in much healthier ways.
My method is called “Body-Feel-Talk”:
Step 1: Be fearless in your body.
Your body is quite reliable in revealing to you what’s going on inside and out. Tuning into your body sensations can help you to identify how you’re feeling on a deeper level.
Stand still and track your body from your head to your toes. There are areas in your body which hold specific emotions. The following guidelines from the book Centering And The Art Of Intimacy Handbook may help you clarify how you’re feeling:
Location: head, chest, arms, hands, shoulders, neck
Sensation: tension, clenched, drawn in tight, blocky
Location: heart, throat, belly, inside head, hands
Sensation: fluttering, clutching, tension, shortness of breath, dry mouth, beating of heart
Location: whole body
Sensation: spacious, expansive, glowing, giggly inside
Location: face, head, genitals
Sensation: streaming, fullness, warmth
Location: chest, eyes, throat, arms, legs
Sensation: cold, lump, narrowing, empty
Step 2: One single word can make you feel secure.
Now, put a word or phrase to the sensation or feeling how it feels to you: warm, hard, crunchy, light, tensed, or relaxed. In the beginning, it’s the best to find basic sensations. Simply attach a word to it, even if it doesn’t make sense. The more you practice, the easier it becomes to find the right words to whatever it is that you’re experiencing.
This easy tool will immediately ground and strengthen you when you’re feeling vulnerable and insecure. From here, you can go deeper and ask yourself how feeling warm and smooth makes you feel, and you may come up with feeling connected and open.
Step 3: Start a sensational talk.
If you’re in a conversation with your partner and you start getting annoyed, you could say, “I feel that my shoulders are tightening. This doesn’t feel good for me.” Or, when you’re afraid of telling your husband that you want him to take up responsibilities, you could say, “My throat feels dry and it’s difficult for me to find the right words right now.”
You may experience that these sensations will keep on changing. Explore all that is: your pain, joy, giggle, and liveliness. Embrace them all as part of your amazingly vivid body.
After you have mastered these first three steps and amplified your confidence in understanding what’s going on inside your body, you are then ready for the advanced steps of creating talk scripts for any real-life situation.
“The Body-Feel-Talk” tool can assist you in creating a new level of intimacy, as you naturally create the relationship of your dreams (and this can be romantic, work, familial, or social).
I’m thankful that I learned how to apply this process in my own relationship. I began to stay with my heart open, rather than closing down. If you’re still unsure how to move forward in your own life, I always suggest consulting a professional relationship expert to help provide objective reflections that may profoundly shift your life—for the better.
1. G. Hendricks, Ph.D. & K. Hendricks, Ph.D., Centering And The Art Of Intimacy Handbook, Fireside, NY, 1993
2. L. Nummenmaa, R. Haari, E. Glerean, J. K. Hietanen, Bodily Maps of Emotions, PNAS, January 14. 2014, vol 111, 646-651
Author: Silke Glaab
Image: Model: Nattalie Marley / Photographer: Jozef Ezra
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