Intimacy With Your Mind

March 20, 2024

By Allison Iantosca, ACC

I think, for a lot of us, intimacy is a four-letter word dolled up in eight. Equally jarring and inappropriate, it should be reserved for those key moments of potent expression and otherwise be left out of polite conversation.

Being the well-mannered professionals we are, this generally accepted practice seems to work. Intimacy, like swearing, is avoidable in our office settings and executive relationships. Circumventing emotional intimacy is, in fact, expected and any digression shameful and impertinent if not fire-able. In other words, it’s a big deal. 

I suppose, if we opened the lid on intimacy, our work environments could become mayhem. I have been admonished for leaning too far into the details of someone’s personal circumstance— the wavering mental focus of a parent, the unsavory details of a painful divorce, the guilt experienced when laying people off. Things that matter to the human experience, and therefore impact one’s performance, but that I am advised to ignore to ensure my “professional” judgment or feedback.

Though I get it, I think this reservation holds back our best work. True, some of us can turn the internal tension into grit and churn out something brilliant. But, for the most part, the ten minutes to acknowledge what’s true for you, even if, God forbid, you cry, clears the space for good work to happen. It’s out. It has been identified. It is possible to release the energy put into holding a burning secret or unignorable pain and channel it into useful, salary earning production. Just imagine! Ten little minutes of intimacy saving a whole afternoon of productivity.

Alas, I’ll save furthering my rant for another time. But there is an aspect of intimacy that can go unmonitored by the watchful eye of policy-making boundary keepers. An unsuspected intimacy that gets bundled up in the portfolio of professional deportment. An intimacy that craves an invitation to the table but is more often told to “wait outside, we’ll be back to collect you on the way home.”

A beautiful, deeply meaningful and critical intimacy with your own mind.  

Somewhere along the line, we are taught to also limit self-intimacy. To ball up our emotions and stuff them into the dirty laundry bag. To reserve brain space for strategy, training, numbers, pithy one-liners, a well-timed, clean joke to warm up the room. But to edit the rest in the name of stoicism and grit.

It’s a fine line for sure and takes a level of sophistication and self-management to operate inside a human system of any kind that shares even the baseline of human experience. But time and again what seems to come along with that limitation is self-talk that repeatedly suggests that you’re wrong to feel what you feel.

“Don’t be so intense. It’s off-putting.”

“Don’t be such a people pleaser. You’re only harming yourself.”

“Stand up for yourself. You’re never going to get anywhere if you don’t own your own power.”

“Your too-muchness scares people away.”

“You are too emotional.”

Messages that float on the surface of our mental narrative and grow long leggy roots that burrow into the center of how we define ourselves. Abundant and so familiar we don’t even notice their tangled hold.


Slither down those leggy roots. Bring a gentle light that softens the sharper edges. Move slowly with patience and curiosity: How did you get here? What purpose do you serve? Can I tell you what I like about you the most?

Talk about grit. This is not the easy part. But until you bring awareness to your very own thoughts, a level of daring intimacy, you cannot operate with the freedom of choice. You are gripped in the forced paralysis of etiquette, at half a tank, only partially present. It’s a waste of time.

This is the work we do as coaches. Scaffold you as you build up a trusted intimacy with your own thoughts and awareness. Create the possibility of an enduring relationship with your mind.   Change yourself from the inside out. Help you feel more whole. Centered. Clear.

And it may take less swearing than you think.

Allison Iantosca is a Gestalt International Study Center (GISC) trained coach certified by ICF with extensive leadership and management experience. She is an Executive Coach and is the Owner and President of Boston based FH Perry Builder.

*Photo Credit: Jay Castor

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