Therapy Homework on Intimacy

Apparently, if it’s not obvious enough from recent previous posts, it appears that I have been having a few intimacy issues. Off the back of this, my homework from therapy is to write a list of traits and behaviours in others that draw me closer to people.

I tried to explain to my therapist that the things that draw me closer to people can also be the things that make me want to pull away from them – and that this is dependent on my mental state and the context/ person.

Take someone being kind, for example. In Wise Mind, someone being kind to me is likely to draw me closer to the person, if they’re somebody I perceive as safe.

Does the same apply when in Emotion Mind, however? If I’m feeling shameful, self-hating, angry, or any other intense ‘negative’ emotion, the answer is probably no. If someone is kind to me when I am in a bubble of self-hatred, I am likely to get mad at or feel resistant towards them if they show kindness towards me. I would find it much easier if they treated me with aggression and malice.

Furthermore, if my therapist is kind to me when I am sad I will probably be drawn closer to her. However, if certain people in my family are kind to me when I am experiencing sadness, I may feel the urge to pull away.

Also, in (a negative) Emotion Mind, I may feel undeserving of being treated kindly – and rationality kinda goes out the window.

The fundamental problem is that as my emotional and physical world changes, so do my needs and wants – and that includes what I desire within a whole host of relationships. It is therefore challenging to say what specific factors draw me closer to people, since so much of that is contingent on how things are within a given moment.

For the sake of the homework, and my therapist’s sanity, I have written two lists – one Wise Mind list and one Emotion Mind list. She will probably ignore the second, so as not to ‘enable’ the Emotion Mind thinking, or perhaps she will be impressed with my efforts and creativity at turning anything potentially positive into a negative – go me!!

It is in no way exhaustive, but it is a start –

Wise Mind says:

  • Sensitivity to my needs
  • Warmth and care
  • Trying to understand my experiences
  • Accepting faults (mine and their own)
  • Being able to apologise when necessary
  • Consistency
  • Safe physical touch
  • Politeness and respect
  • Appreciating my presence
  • Contacting me first
  • Calmness and safety
  • Kind words on birthday cards
  • Remembering things that are important to me
  • Sticking to commitments
  • Showing effort within the relationship
  • Curiosity and concern
  • Positive attention

Emotion Mind says:

  • Reiterating to me that my needs are too much
  • Criticising me
  • Coldness and cruelty
  • Blaming and shaming me for everything
  • Unsafe physical touch
  • Being demanding towards me
  • Pushing me away
  • Pain
  • Forgetting things important to me
  • Breaking commitments
  • Negative attention

For some reason I found the process of writing it more beneficial than I anticipated. It’s helpful to notice that if I’m wanting someone to treat me negatively, I’m probably in Emotion Mind and it could be effective to target that before continuing with the interaction.

Sometimes it’s helpful to see my insanity laid down in front of me, I guess. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Edit: turns out I got the exercise totally wrong – whoops and whoops some more. Ah well, the above is still helpful in its own way, I guess!

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