Yesterday my eye fell on an interesting quote:
“One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.”
I don’t know who said it. It was a scientist who researched relationships. If I remember correctly the context was an experiment that was designed by a researcher who wanted to prove he could make two people fall in love by exposing them to a list of carefully chosen questions that they had to answer to each other.
The key is connection. We human beings thrive on connectedness. At the same time we live the weird paradox that we live in a disconnected state. We don’t know who we really are: somewhere along the line we have lost connection with ourselves. We want to find ourselves back, this is what we long for, on an often subconscious level.
Most of us don’t consciously look inwards to reestablish the connection. But we all appreciate the feeling of connectedness once it is there. So we tend to like people who are genuinely interested in who we are and what we do. When we feel safe enough to express ourselves we are presented with an opportunity to explore who we are.
It is nice to be able to share and explore who we are. But there comes a point that it gets scary. We want to know ourselves but we don’t want to feel vulnerable. When we reach our perceived vulnerability-threshold we stop. Quite often we have unwritten contracts with our peers to go as deep as feels comfortable for both parties. Not-so-open people like to hang out with people who are similarly not-so-open.
This doesn’t only apply to romantic relationships but also to friendships and professional relationships. Where the self-disclosure stops, the depth of the relationship stagnates. If you want deep and strong bonds you should be willing to open up. Consciously and willfully creating favorable conditions for bonds to deepen is what I call leadership. As a leader you go first. As a leader you must commit to self-disclosure because you acknowledge the importance of strong bonds and interpersonal trust.
As human beings we have a responsibility to become leaders and explorers. Firstly we need to explore ourselves. We owe it to creation to try to unravel ourselves at least for as much as possible. We need to explore our dark and painful places because if we won’t unveil them they will hold power over us. As lovers we need to explore ourselves in relationship to the other. We want to give our lovers permission to explore us while we discover them. In a more professional context we want to find our soul purpose and share our gifts and talents with others. This will inspire others.
Going beyond the vulnerability frontier will bring us to an unknown place conveniently named not-knowing. This is were the magic happens. We will find a place that is not contaminated with concepts, ideas, judgments and other produce of a frightened mind. We will enter the present moment. By aligning with the present moment – because that is what we are doing: we are aligning ourselves with something that has been available to us since before the beginning of time: the ever present Here & Now – we will find that we are able to respond naturally.
We tend to fear the unknown more than we fear suffering because at least suffering is familiar to us. Once we start exploring our thoughts, feelings, concepts and ideas we will definitely hit on fear sooner or later. But beyond fear lies the present moment, a place of stillness, love, peace and connection with the whole of creation. By being born we are all given a ticket and a vessel to go visit that place. It will bring us deep and lasting proximity, with ourselves, with others and with creation as a whole. A worthwhile endeavor.