I'm in the process of editing another book (surprise - I love to write). This one is about intimacy barriers and suggestions.
I thought I'd share part of the first barrier. It's a common one, unfortunately. This book will be available in e-book format when it's complete.
Intimacy Barrier #1: Self-deprecation, Self-Meanness, Belittling or Undervaluing Yourself
Following a Palm Springs Toastmasters meeting in 2018 where my friend Joe was doing a speech, I asked him how he felt it went. He says, "I forgot a whole part and then had to cut the ending short because I didn't have enough time." I’m also Joe’s mentor in this group.
Me: "So is that OK? It's only your second organized speech. The purpose of this group is to learn how to get better. You don't have to have it all correct from the beginning."
Joe: "I should have rehearsed more. I should have practiced so I knew what I could include."
Me: "Aren't you being a bit hard on yourself?"
We laugh. Joe gets it. This is not our first conversation about him being mean to himself.
"When you are hard on yourself like this, you're not available to me. You are in your own world and it doesn't include me or anybody. There is no space for anything but your internal dialog of self-deprecation and being mean to yourself. No matter what I say regarding my different perception of you, you can't hear me or take it in."
Two years later when we are talking about another topic where Joe is being hard on himself, because we've developed a deeper friendship and more truth telling, I tell him, "This is an intimacy barrier. I really feel bored when you get into this place of being mean to yourself. There is no way for me to be in this conversation because you aren't available for a dialogue. You are in a monologue. Your focus on your pain outweighs any relationship interaction with me."
Bingo. Flashes of truth.
Joe now rarely goes to that place of self-meanness with me. Not only does he not feel it as much, he knows it leaves me out of the interaction. We don't spend much time together so when we do, it feels good that the dynamics include intimacy regarding honest feelings and life experiences for both of us. We are both available for the intimacy in the moment.
In the book there are tangible suggestions for how to communicate with somebody who is being mean to themselves. Plus, if a person recognizes this behavior in themselves, some options to change the mind chatter. I'm still editing!
p.s. photography by Pamelah Landers