Become More Emotionally Available Using These 5 Self-Growth Practices
Have you ever felt confused, overwhelmed, or wondered how a friend or partner feels? Maybe you've gotten to the point in a relationship where you aren't moving forward. Perhaps the relationship has plateaued. When this happens, it is possible one or both of you are emotionally unavailable.
Relationships, although very rewarding, can also be challenging at times. Both romantic and platonic relationships require an emotional investment, and sometimes one gives more than the other. When we shut down or feel blocked emotionally, we are often acting from our wounded self, the part of us that has been hurt in the past. In doing decade-long research on the psychology of human behavior for my books and in witnessing clients in my life coaching practice, I discovered a pattern.
Many of us shut down emotionally to protect ourselves and prevent future hurt. But this keeps out what we want most—love, connection, intimacy—as we stay stuck in the cycle of protection. In order to grow closer to others and improve our relationships, we can practice self-awareness through personal growth tools.
Here are five self-awareness practices and mindful techniques to help you become more available emotionally.
Practice 1: Hold up the energetic mirror.
In my book Return to You: 11 Spiritual Lessons for Unshakable Inner Peace, I share the practice of improving relationships through self-awareness.
If we don't understand ourselves fully, we may project out onto others. When we look at others' actions as a mirror, we can discover what their behavior tells us about us. The energetic mirror is a practice that can remind us that our outside world is a reflection of our internal state. As A Course in Miracles states, we attract to us what we are.
- Where do I feel valued, and where do I not feel honored in this partnership?
- How is this a reflection of my own unmet needs and personal desires?
Then commit to meeting these needs within yourself first. For example, if you don't feel appreciated in the connection, ask yourself what part of your own self you do not appreciate. Then commit to approaching and honoring your whole self more.
Practice 2: Address feelings as they occur.
Instead of repressing feelings, lean into them by developing a mindfulness practice. My favorite is practicing breathing techniques, but doing a 10- to 15-minute meditation or writing in a journal can also support you in feeling the feelings.
Practice 3: Show the real you.
Learn how to build intimacy by sharing your true self. That means that as trust sets in, you increasingly share from your true emotional self. When we do our best to show up authentically and speak openly and honestly to those closest to us, we invite others to do the same. This mutual authenticity leads to more profound and powerful emotional bonds.
Practice 4: Connect with your values.
Look at your values first and see how those around you reflect or deflect those. Start by revising your values so you can operate from a place of balance. We only accept the love we think we deserve. So rewrite your values and create new rules for yourself. You are not the wounded child who did not get their emotional needs meet. As an adult welcomes in love first with self-love and knowing your true worth. The best thing to do is get clear about your desires and get clear about how you want to be treated and feel. In doing this, you can make space for the right person.
Practice 5: Invite feedback.
Feedback helps people become better at controlling negative behaviors. When asking for feedback, be approachable and accountable. Conversations help you connect deeper to others, and expressing yourself vulnerably while inviting feedback could improve your connections as it gives people a chance to express themselves and convey any roadblocks or areas of friction.
A beautiful unfolding often happens when we share ourselves with others. Those around us follow our lead and also share their vulnerabilities. It becomes a vulnerability trade-off, and true intimacy and emotional availability ensue. Vulnerability builds connection. When we reveal our fears, doubts, and worries to others, it can strengthen our connections and encourage others to confide in us.
Shannon Kaiser is the best-selling author of 5 books on the psychology of happiness and fulfillment including The Self-Love Experiment and Adventures for Your Soul, Joy Seeker, and Unshakable Inner Peace Oracle card deck, and the forthcoming book Return to You. She has a B.A. in journalism and communications from the University of Oregon. As an international life coach, speaker, and retreat leader, she helps people awaken and align with their true selves so they can live their highest potential.
She's been named top 100 Women to Watch in wellness by mindbodygreen, alongside Cameron Diaz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kris Carr and Gabriel Bernstein, and was listed as of the freshest voices in mental health and wellness by Chicken Soup for The Women's Soul. She's been named one of Entrepreneurs Must-Follow Instagram Accounts for Inspiration and Top Facebook Accounts for Daily Motivation by Mind Body Green.
Her website Playwiththeworld.com has been names top 75 Personal development websites and top 100 self-help websites by the institute for the Psychology of Eating. She's an international life coach and author mentor, and a full time world traveler with a home base in Portland, Oregon with her best friend, her Golden Retriever Chance, who she flew to China to Rescue.