The Naked Mind

Octopuses are intelligent and sensitive creatures. They’re able to change their skin pigment and texture to blend into their environment and display their moods. Whatever an octopus thinks or feels is literally written all over its body. They are the epitome of the naked mind.

While an octopus communicates openly, we have the ability to hide what we think or feel. This human trait can be a good or bad thing, working to our advantage or disadvantage.

There are certainly times we don’t want people to know our true thoughts. To function in societal groups, we need to moderate that voice in our head that would otherwise blurt out something hurtful, rude, or inappropriate – even if we believe it to be true.

But in our intimate relationships, truthful communication is the key ingredient to ensuing both partners are moving together harmoniously.

Yet we often hold back talking about how we feel for fear of having those feelings rejected, laughed at, or minimised. Or we take the other tact and let our frustrations build up until we explode, expressing our wants or disappointments in aggressive, demanding, or damaging ways. Either way, we can end up enduring painful silence or in endless arguments, and either scenario can leave us feeling rejected, hurt, isolated, unheard, and unloved by the people we actually love the most, and with whom we should feel the closest!

So how do we keep the lines of communication open in a relationship? Remember when you first got together and it seemed that you could talk to each other about anything? But slowly that intimacy slips away. Life’s busy-ness, money worries, demands of parenthood, the unresolved hurts and little disappointments, all serve to build up like a layer of soap scum in a shower that is not regularly cleaned.

I’m not suggesting that we adopt the transparency of an octopus, unable to disguise our emotions, but I am suggesting we adopt a policy to get into the shower and lovingly scrub it out occasionally.

The earlier in a relationship you can establish an agreement of not letting life’s ‘soap scum’ build up – by using real and kind communication – the better. But it’s never too late to re-establish lines of communication.

Make a commitment to each other to discuss the issues that come up for you – without judgement of the other. What is most important is that you do it in a caring manner, that you allow each other to speak (or cry, or even rant a little), and that you understand that what your partner says is not necessarily a deal-breaking criticism of you, but an expression of how they are feeling at that moment. Sometimes we just need our partner to listen so we can get things off our chest.

Be understanding, but also remember that we are all responsible for our own feelings. No one can make us feel badly without our permission. Make changes if they will be helpful towards your mutual happiness. And above all, forgive each other the little hurts.

Any couple can work through any relationship issue if both people are committed to the wellbeing and happiness of the other. And occasionally that means stripping down and scrubbing off the soap scum together.

We may not want to have minds that are as naked as the octopus, but transparency in our intimate relationships through kind communication builds trust, encourages emotional and sexual intimacy, and promotes a more loving acceptance of each other.