As I experience my own love life and witness the love lives of individuals and couples who come to see me, I'm often struck by how counter-productive are our strategies for self-protection, how often these strategies lead to disconnection from ourselves and from those we love.
We hide our vulnerability, as if we're dealing with an adversary who would take advantage of our weakness. We attack, defend, withdraw – hoping for emotional safety at the same time we desire closeness – often winding up with something that's neither safe nor close.
We hide, for example, by focusing on the other – diagnosing, analyzing, projecting, interrogating: "What's wrong?" "Why aren't you…?" "You seem…" "Why are you so…?"
An alternative is to attend more deeply to ourselves, to listen to our bodies' signals, to gently inquire within: "What am I feeling?" "What am I feeling under that?" "What kind of story am I telling myself?" "What's my vulnerability here?" "What am I looking for?" "What do I want?" "What's important to me here?" This is not self-analysis; it's self-awareness. It's not mental; it's mindful.
This level of listening allows us to reveal ourselves. The inner connection invites relational connection. I don't start a battle, I start a conversation. I start by discarding weapons, dropping armor, disrobing.
To be safe with an adversary, wear a suit of armor. To be safe with a lover, get naked.