My “S” in SWERNY was initially for sex.
When we came up with the practice of Find Your SWERNY, we did so with six themes in mind. The first theme is “The Intimate”–shorthand The I. The I is the extension of of self to others.
As social animals, we not only want to be with one another but also we need one another. For the fiercely independent, it is hard to admit that there is a need for someone. Most of us were raised hearing, “You should consider yourself the most important person.” Self esteem and self reliance were encouraged. When friendships or romantic relationships came to an end, we would be reminded how wonderful and valuable we were, even in the wake of the loss of a cherished friend or lover who clearly didn’t see that wonder or value.
So with respect to The I, you are asked to think of that one person with whom you share your life. It really can be anyone. Once you have made your choice, your task, relative to The I, is to practice intimacy with that very lucky person.
(This does not necessitate that you re-enact the photo above. Side note: We are starkly aware that the photo depicts a man and woman, both Caucasian who happen to use extremely effective laundry detergent. We know that only 0.1% of you will fit those descriptors.)
The practice of intimacy is broad and deep. It’s not just about copulating. It encompasses tenderness, kindness, and selflessness. What I have found, over my years of practicing SWERNY, is that my “S” has been broadened to include “sensuality” and “sensations,” not just “sex.” There are countless ways to practice intimacy within the realm of The I.
For most of us, we will need to look critically at ourselves and ask difficult questions in order to determine what we are willing and able to give with tenderness, kindness, and selflessness. Past trauma and current unhealthy patterns tend to affect our capacities. These realities will bear upon how quickly and how openly each of us can come to practice The I with our chosen partner. (Side note: You may be in a place where you cannot select someone in your life upon whom to direct your intimate energies. If this is the case, you should pick yourself. Yep. You are worthy of tenderness, kindness, and selflessness.)
Once you have your pairing, ask yourself these questions:
- What do I appreciate about this person?
- What would I (the world) miss out on were this person to be gone?
- When have I done well by this person? And what did I do that allows me to conclude that I’d “done well?”
If you were able to answer these with detail, ask yourself this:
Am I willing to take time out of every day to endeavor to increase my intimacy with this person?
If you answered “yes” to this last question, start today. If you answered “no,” find someone else to practice The I with. The person you choose does not need to be told, though I imagine that person will sense that something is different between you.
Keep a record. (I like to use index cards.) Put down the date. Put down the theme, i.e., The I. Then record what you did to increase intimacy. After some time, you will see a pattern on how you–as a unique person–practice within the realm of The I. After you find your pattern, you can assign your letter to The I.
Mine is “S”–not always for sex–and that “S” is the first letter in SWERNY.