How to Raise Your Standard of Relationship Intimacy

In popular culture there is a belief that commiserating with a friend or partner’s pain and emotional wounds deepens intimacy. In the treatment room, a patient may become belligerent with me as a way to make me feel and experience their pain. The unconscious idea is, “When you feel how bad my pain is, then you’ll really know and understand me.” This idea actually strengthens and perpetuates seeds of unworthiness that see codependence as a necessary way of relating. If I don’t play, I am not perceived as empathetic. If I do, I reinforce a paradigm that needs to heal.

In a balanced state, the liver provides a deep feeling of inner goodness. A healthy emotional expression of the liver reflects through and through without any doubt that you are truly a good person. A resolute sense of feeling good to the core is the clarity required to set a boundary with people who want to inject you with their pain as a form of intimacy. This is where the heroism of healing comes into play. When people close to you or in the perphery of your life insist that you’re not good enough, you have a choice to agree with their story as projected onto you or to hold to your awareness of self-love. When you hold self-love constant, you allow people in your life either to choose love or reject it. Just because people in your life don’t love themselves doesn’t mean you have to be like them. The clearer you are about love, the greater the opportunity for people around you to be clear about love.

A healthy boundary asks people to show up in their Divinity instead of in their pain. Love is not digesting people’s pain for them. This the courageous work of healing. To insist on the purity and power of love is a choice; a choice that will be challenged by the people who are still unclear about where love comes from. 

As others seek you out for solace, some may, in their hurt and confusion, want you to feel and be responsible for their pain. They may project their pain onto your sense of self. Notice if you have this tendency in your own life.

The liver gives you the strength to carry your own pain and be clear with others about their responsibility to carry and heal their pain. Taking on the pain of others is a fool’s errand. I’m not talking about hearing out a buddy who needs someone to listen to him after a breakup, or when your friend needs to talk about her breast cancer diagnosis. That is beautiful and important work to do. I’m talking about when people want you to be responsible for their insecurity. Letting yourself be taken advantage of by pushy or needy people does not serve you or them. No matter how uncomfortable it may be, when you set a boundary with people who want you to feel their pain you create space for love to be cultivated.

Love begins and ends with you. Insist on the goodness of your heart, and others will eventually get the message that you’re interested in love, not pain. Enough pain. Enough bombs. Right here, right now, we must choose love. 

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