How to Create Instant Intimacy with Anyone
The Power of Welcoming and Sharing the First Person Perspective of the Present Moment
I went to a fantastic event recently called the Integral Living Room. It was my favorite Integral conference or workshop ever; the most embodied, interactive, and meaningful one I have been fortunate enough to attend. I learned many things about myself.
I was struck over and over again by the power of speaking in the first person, in a vulnerable way, about exactly what is going on for me right now, in the moment, without judgment from myself or expectation from you, the listener.
This kind of embrace of the moment for exactly what is it, this kind of radical self-honesty and open vulnerability, is beautiful.
The Effect of Welcoming the Present Moment in Relationship
When people opened up this way, I was hooked. My attention stayed focused and present, and I felt closer to them. When they talked about theories or concepts or started telling us as a group what we needed to be doing, I found myself getting distracted, losing interest, and judging them.
I thought to myself, “If I am looking for intimacy and depth, welcoming the present moment and sharing it in my first person experience is the way to go.”
The effect of sharing my present experience is often a deep connection with others. Welcoming it into my experience often allows me to paradoxically see it more objectively and therefore not get so caught up in it.
The Limits of First Person Expression
First person itself is not always called for—it is inadequate to cover the full range of existence. First person never exists in isolation; there is always a relationship (the second person) between what I see as myself (first person) and what I see as not-me (the third person).
First person: me (I)
Second person: relationship between me and not-me (you / we)
Third person: not-me (it)
First person can be incredibly impractical. If we want to solve a problem or organize an event together it will be very important to use third person and second person perspectives.
Furthermore, my ability to share my experience of the present moment can itself can go deeper with a little bit of third-person context setting and second person acknowledgement.
Taking Responsibility for My Experience
The simplicity of “I” Statements is not enough to really represent my experience, and it is certainly not enough for intimacy. I have to take full responsibility for my experience to truly understand and share it. This can happen with “I” statements, but it is not certain.
For example, if I say to you “I feel that you are being a total butthead right now,” I am clearly using an “I” statement to judge and blame you instead of taking responsibility for my feelings. I am not in touch with what is really going on inside of me. Even saying “I am upset with you right now” is not as accurate, in touch, or vulnerable as “I am feeling left out.”
“I am feeling left out” can still be a way to blame the other person, if the implication is that it is their fault. This means that I am not embracing the moment. I want something to be different from what is. And the results of such sharing will reflect this fight with the reality of what is going on inside of me.
This is particularly true if the present experience is one I do not like, and this is where this discussion relates to happiness. I must own the experience in my full, embodied personhood because I cannot get rid of something I am not aware of possessing. Said another way, if I refuse to acknowledge that my unhappiness exists it is impossible for me to let it go.
So the important thing is taking responsibility for your own experience when you feel someone else is being a butthead, not necessarily the specific words you say. You welcome the experience of frustration, separation, and your own fear and anger of feeling left out without judging it. Sharing it in conversation is a way to test how much you are still judging it, and allow yourself to accept it even more. By taking responsibility for your true feelings and not judging them you no longer need to hide from them by projecting them onto someone else.
Ironically, it is only in accepting your pain that you find the freedom to go beyond it.
The Importance of Context and Purpose
Sometimes I am scared to acknowledge and share aspects of myself because I am afraid of the way the sharing will be received. Sometimes people try to manipulate that vulnerability, and some people cannot meet me there. Just like everything else in the world, there is a time and place that calls for this sort of open sharing. When and where that is depends on my purpose in any given moment and context.
And just like everything else, it takes practice to get good at the discernment of when to share my present moment’s experience, my willingness to truly own the most repressed aspects of who I think I am. The goal is to hone my ability to share those with others in a way that builds relationships, inspires, and transforms. In my experience, it is a practice well worth undertaking.
 The phrasing of much of this section comes from a dialogue on Conscious Community and Relationships between Robert MacNaughton and Decker Cunov, July 22, 2012. Available from The Enlightenment Community,http://www.theenlightenmentconference.com/sq/13599-join-the-enlightenment-community