Many of us have been told, at some point in our lives, that we’re looking at life through rose-colored glasses.
When someone says this, they’re really suggesting that since our lenses are rose-tinted, we’re seeing things as nicer than they really are. Rosy perspectives are painted as naive and irresponsible.
I think this is a load of crap that doesn’t help anyone.
In truth, if we’re wearing glasses at all, they’re likely clouded dark, not rosy, by the negative stories we tell ourselves.Read More
Originally on elephant journal.
Earlier this year, I published an essay entitled “Please Read This so Our Sex can be Amazing,” a guide for men on how to avoid self-sabotaging sex with women and be the the kind of lover who is invited back.
After it went viral, I read through the comments from both men and women and realized that my essay had left me feeling even more powerless in having the kind of sex I wanted. It was all about illuminating what men could do differently to be better lovers for women.
It was about asking them to change.
While men certainly needed to hear what I had written—a resounding consensus among my female readers—I realized I want to have great sex without relying on men to stop doing the things they do that turn women off.
I’m not saying let’s let men off the hook from disassembling centuries of patriarchal patterns of thought and behavior that serve neither men nor women. Our society has a long way to go in empowering and legitimizing the feminine, and men must participate in this process—doing so will improve sex for everyone.
But I want to have great sex now, without waiting on the guys to humble up and agree to relearn everything they know from the ground up. I don’t want women to be dependent on men changing in order for us to have what we want.
And the only way I know how to do this is to take 100 percent responsibility for our own experience.
The first thing we can do is to look at male behaviors that turn us off and seek to understand why those behaviors affect us that way so that we can cultivate empowerment in those spots instead of just being frustrated. In my last article, I outlined the main stopping points for women and how men can approach them in different ways that work better for women. Now I want to give attention to how we women can navigate ourselves in those same spots.
This comes with a disclaimer: this essay stems from my own experience and from what I’ve heard from many of the women I’ve coached, and is therefore highly personal. I hope it resonates, but it is by no means a formula for all women.
So that I don’t waste space repeating the same material, I’m gonna assume you’ll read the first article and refer to it for the suggestions I already gave the guys.
1. When we want sex that’s more than just sex.
Usually, I want more than just sex. It’s not necessarily that I want a committed relationship, although I might. It’s that my body wasn’t created to turn on without the benefit of some inspiring, skillful seduction first. The full potential of my sex can’t be unlocked without being touched by the full spectrum of who I am. Yes, we could get involved with each other for the sole purpose of intercourse, but that truly is not the best I have to offer, nor the rich experience I am looking for.
So what do we do when a man seems to relate to us primarily as a sexual object? For a long time I thought I only had two options. The first was to cut him loose and move on. The second was to educate him on how to connect with me by telling him all the things I told the men in my first essay.
But now I realize there is a third option: practicing radical authenticity.
I can take it upon myself to show up as the multidimensional person that I am and have my humanness be so glaringly obvious that it either calls forth the same in him or totally alienates him. Either way, I’ve succeeded in being impossible to objectify.
Sometimes I feel like an angry feminist, and when that happens I try to slow down and check in with why I feel angry. It’s almost always in response to having compromised my own authenticity, which is something that others can certainly encourage me to abandon, but that they can never actually take away from me. It’s always up to me.
2. When we want him to let us yearn for him.
Most women are dying for a man to expertly arouse the height of our desire for him by letting us feel our own yearning. Unfortunately, not many men do this.
I love to draw out our seduction and flirtation until we can both barely stand it. The build up is my favorite part, but it seems like men often rush through it out of impatience to get to the destination of sex and, to me, this feels like eating underripe fruit. I want ripe, sweet juices bursting and dripping down my chin.
So what can I do when I was enjoying letting it build up but my arousal starts slipping away as I feel him wanting to skip the good parts and plow toward the finish line? Of course I can always ask him to slow down, and I definitely should, but by the time it gets to that, usually the mood is lost. So what do I do then?
Let’s consider the power of being attuned to our desire and sensation. When he goes faster than I want and it snaps me out of my body and into my head, I can either get annoyed and let my head dictate what happens next or I can choose to tune out my thoughts and focus on tuning back into my body. What sensations am I feeling? What does my desire feel like?
Once I’m thoroughly landed back in my body and feel more present with him, I can usually feel him become more present with me, too. From there, I can guide him to go at my pace, or I can let go of my preferences and simply focus my attention on the sensation in my body.
No matter what the pace is, if I decide to get off on it, I usually will. That is the power of psychology over physiology.
3. When he devours us, leaving no room for our hunger.
This one has had me stumped for a long time. Obviously we can simply say “slow down” when he moves faster than our body is ready for, but how do we create a sexual dynamic where we don’t always have to be the ones with our foot on the breaks in reaction to a sex-hungry man?
It can feel frustrating when he is already waiting to devour us like he hasn’t eaten in a year and we haven’t even had a chance to get turned on yet. But I’m a firm believer that if we ever feel like something is happening to us and we feel at its mercy, that means we’ve given up our agency somewhere and made someone else responsible for our experience.
While it is no one woman’s job to feed any starving man, it’s worth mentioning that if he were well-fed, he’d be less likely to devour us before we’re ready. So, my suggestion?
Initiate. Ravish him, devour him, pounce on him—whenever we feel an inkling of the desire to do so. Seduce him when he’s working. Come on to him when he’s busy with other things. Allow him to experience such an abundance of our desire that he is no longer scarce for it. If we give him a chance to say no, maybe we’ll find ourselves feeling more hungry than him for once.
4. When we want present, connected sex but he’s disconnected and putting on a performance.
There are a lot of shoulds in our sex that really should not be there. Our conditioning by the media’s treatment of sexuality and our limited exposure to healthy alternative attitudes have made many of us believe that there’s a way sex is supposed to look and feel. And usually that expectation doesn’t match up with our experience.
Rather than slowing down, checking in with ourselves, and being honest about what we feel and want, many of us instead speed up to try and create more sensation. We disconnect from ourselves and each other to try and make our sex look like we think it should.
I have often felt men doing this but I know women are just as prone. My guess is if he’s trying his porn-inspired moves on us, we’re also feeling some pressure to join in the performance.
The antidote to having disconnected sex is to hold ourselves to a higher standard of being connected. That means we are honest in every sound we make, every move of hour hips, every kiss. We don’t exaggerate anything, but instead, honor and approve of what we do feel and let him see it without sugar coating it.
Sometimes men will take it as a hit to their ego when we aren’t screaming wildly at all their moves (after all, they want to know we’re enjoying sex with them), but many will be grateful to us for making room for them to be authentic too. It can be vulnerable to feel like the only one being authentic, but if we want to end the charade one of us has to be willing to go first.
Originally on elephant journal.
Maybe you can get what you’re looking for from outside yourself… But you don’t really want to.
Maybe there’s someone who loves you deeply and shows you in every moment just how much you mean to them… But you know the recognition you crave is your own.
Maybe there’s someone who wants to give you everything, who is just waiting for you to ask… But what you long for is to know, with certainty, that you can, and will, always give it to yourself.
Maybe you’ve fallen in love; found someone to laugh with, to have adventures with and stay up late with… But you retain your own form and never lose sight of who you are.
This is how it feels to know your own gravity.
This is how it feels to have an undeniable magnetic force that pulls you, always leading you back to yourself if ever you veer away.
This is how it feels to walk through the world knowing you are already enough and you already have enough and no matter what life gives you or what life takes away, that will never change. Gravity is gravity.
But maybe you haven’t quite felt your gravity yet. And that’s okay too.
Sometimes we need to feel flimsy and weightless first before we find an imperative to build our solidity.
Maybe there is someone whom you love deeply and you yearn for them to show you how much you’re worth. But you’re still waiting.
Maybe there is someone whom you wish would give you everything you wanted but they don’t offer. And you’re still waiting.
Maybe you’ve fallen in love with someone who fills the emptiness and makes you feel whole, someone you want to laugh with, to have adventures with and stay up late with.
Or maybe you’re still waiting for them too.
But maybe you have a secret prayer that one day you’ll find out it was always meant to be you; that you are the love of your life and the one you’ve been waiting for.
And if that is your secret prayer, maybe it goes something like this:
Dear universe, please don’t send me anyone that I might mistake as my savior.
Don’t let them come along and sweep me off my feet before I learn to stand on my own.
Don’t let them bring meaning to my life before I discover my own life’s meaning.
Don’t let them bring peace to me before I learn to make peace with myself.
Don’t let them complete me before I know I’m already complete.
Universe, please don’t let anyone save me.
Instead, let me get either so desperate or so inspired that I decide I’m ready to save myself.
Let my life, as I know it, fall apart so that I may rebuild it using desire as my blueprint.
Let me discover what ignites my spark so that romantic love is just one of my many loves.
Let me experience such profound solitude that I gain the deepest kind of intimacy with myself.
Let me lose everything so that I no longer fear losing any of it.
Universe, please give me the chance to become the one worthy of saving me.
Originally published on elephant journal.
For most of my life I lived with the shame of believing I was a lazy person.
I hid my so-called laziness, pretending I was doing more work than I actually was. I created obstacles to doing as much as I was capable of so that I could get away with doing less. I made excuses for the time I spent fiddling around on Facebook while I was supposed to be working. I got by in life putting in about 25 percent and doing alright.
I’m sure some of my readers out there can relate.
And it’s a tragedy that I spent so many of my best years living this way because here’s the thing: I love work.
I’m not exaggerating. Working lights me up and leaves me fulfilled like nothing else. I live to create and build. When I’m not doing that, everything else loses its luster. When I’m in the flow on a project I’m passionate about, I’m at my best and 12-hour workdays fly by, leaving me blissed-out.
So after many years of personal research into what ignites me and what actually dims my flame, I’ve concluded that whenever I am tempted to use laziness to explain my lack of ignition, I always need to look deeper.
And here’s the thing I want to say to everyone reading: this isn’t just me. No one is lazy. No one.
We live in a society governed by a tyranny of shoulds, which means that every one of us has some internalized conditioning about what we should be doing, how we should respond, and how we should feel if we are good people.
Casting anyone as lazy when they don’t conform to society’s expectations is damaging to our ability to live fulfilled lives. It’s a judgement designed to force someone into action by inducing shame, and it stops us from getting curious and finding out what the real hold up is.
But if it’s never really laziness, what is it? Here are a few possibilities:
1 . Maybe we’re doing the wrong thing.
I work with people to help them get unstuck in all areas of their lives. For many of my clients, life has always been all about doing things they don’t want to do. Now, to a certain degree, difficult challenges and mundane routines are a part of healthy adult life. However, when it becomes our default to accept that we should do things we don’t want to, then we can find ourselves pushing and forcing our way through life rather than regularly taking a step back to reevaluate the best way forward. We may notice our resistance but instead of asking why we’re feeling it, go straight into criticizing and blaming ourselves for not overcoming it like we’re supposed to.
When clients come to me in this spot, I start out with something like, “Is it possible that it’s totally okay that you don’t want to be doing this thing? Is it possible you feel this resistance because you’re not meant to be doing this thing, or at least not in this way?”
I live by the assumption that our turn-on knows best and that when we’re not turned on by something, it doesn’t mean we’re wrong (or lazy). It means we need to make an adjustment to the course we’re on. Sometimes the reason we can’t get into the flow is that we’re pushing against the tide.
I see a lot of brilliant people languishing in work that doesn’t turn them on, and, as a result, feeling ineffective and worthless. I want to grab them by the shoulders and shake this declaration into them: “You’re allowed to fail at things that don’t turn you on!”
Failing isn’t a damnation of our character. It’s a sign that we’re meant to find another way forward that resonates with our passion, inspires our conviction, and brings us delight. It’s why successful entrepreneurs all agree that failure is an absolutely integral part of success. It helps us, through a process of elimination, narrow down the huge variety of options to a laser-precise, perfect path.
Imagine plugging away for the rest of your life at something that doesn’t turn you on, foregoing the opportunity to find the right path for you, simply to prove that you can do this thing you don’t want to do; to prove that you’re not lazy.
Chose the path that really turns you on, time after time, and you’ll absolutely kill it at life.
2. We’re afraid of success (or failure).
I’ll start with the fear of failure because it’s the most obvious of the two—it’s the reason we don’t allow ourselves to fail enough times to find the right path forward. It paralyzes us.
But let’s talk about fear of success.
Yes, sometimes we’re simply afraid of success and the change in us that it will demand. Or we’re afraid that if we are successful, it will be at someone else’s expense, making our success a selfish act. Or maybe we fear that when we gain success, we’ll lose sight of other priorities like our spirituality or our relationships.
When we’re not accustomed to it, success can actually feel quite confronting to a sense of self that we’re familiar with. Even if we desperately want it, sometimes it feels like having success could extinguish the person we were before.
We might find we abandon our projects just as we begin to see their promise, and then blame it on our lack of follow-through, never considering that perhaps we’d have excellent follow-through if we weren’t paralyzed by our fear of the unknown realm of success.
A thorough excavation of our beliefs surrounding success is a crucial part of freeing ourselves up to have it. Until we’re able to see how we actively hold ourselves back, and why, success will remain out of our reach.
3. We have a narrow view of what success looks like.
When I tell people they should do what feels right, sometimes they tell me, “Yeah that’s easy for you to say. You’re an adventure traveler and a life coach. You’ve set your life up so you can be doing the exact things that you want to be doing.” And, to that I reply, “Yes. That’s true. But not everyone truly, deeply wants to do this, glamorous as it may seem.”
We tend to idealize some paths while looking down upon others, and this can create pressure for us to reach for dreams that aren’t really our own.
I’m a natural born leader. I have been ever since I acquired enough language skills to direct the creation of sheet and pillow forts or facilitate games of tag and hide-and-seek with the kids in my neighborhood. I know my role now but I have spent years trying out other roles and quite frankly, I was fired from them because I failed so miserably at those jobs. Meanwhile some of the people I admire the most are those who are fulfilled doing the things I was not meant to do.
For every trailblazer, for ever leader I know, I know someone else whose purpose in life it is to support and serve. They shine and feel most fulfilled in that role.
What breaks my heart is when society tells any of us that we haven’t been successful because we don’t have a particular type of title or aren’t the most visible person on the team, when in fact, we are exactly where we’re the most effective and fulfilled and our contribution is exactly what’s needed.
Why do we travel?
What's so compelling about it that we're willing to incur the expenses, battle the jet lag, brave the unfamiliarity, and disrupt our day to day lives?
I think what we look for out of it varies greatly according to our awareness of just how much is possible for us through travel.
Some simply seeking an escape. They travel to check out of their lives. They don't see all it has to offer because, for them, a brief interlude from real life is the most they'd hope to expect from it. They travel to resort towns with all the amenities in order to decompress from their day-to-day grind. They're vacationers.
Others seek to discover something through travel. Travel is their catalyst for change and growth. They know how life-changing travel can be and they take full advantage. They head to far-out places, seeking immersion into culture, happy to be removed from the comforts of familiarity. Travel is part of their identity because they've been so deeply affected by it. They're travelers.
Vacationing and being a traveler do not offer the same experience. It's not about the length of time, the destination, which sites we visit or the kinds of photos we take. It's about our attitudes and how we approach ourselves and our surroundings when we go out into the world.
I'm a traveler but I used to be a vacationer.
Before my journey into life coaching began, I had a corporate career and was on track for a cookie-cutter life. I felt trapped and overwhelmed and I wanted to see who I could be if I was... you know... free. So I'd book a vacation. I'd take time off, buy plane tickets, and pack my suitcase, removing myself from the life I'd created and placing myself in some entirely different set of circumstances expecting that a change of scenery would bring about a change in me; believing that my circumstances were the thing holding me back and that changing them would allow me to finally be my real self.
I'd think, if I go somewhere tropical I'll be wild and free instead of stressed and uptight, so I'd show up to the beach in my new bikini, sip some fancy tropical cocktails, dip in the hot tub, have hotel sex, and wait for that feeling of freedom to hit me but I'd still be the same me through all of it. In fact, the part of me I was trying to escape would be magnified amid the expectations of wild, freedom.
I'd experience the phenomenon Anias Nin pointed to when she wrote, "wherever you go, there you are". I'd find I couldn't escape myself. None of us can. If we want to change, we actually need to face ourselves and come to terms with the perspectives and beliefs that have been shaping our lives. We need to discover the true nature of our relationships to our circumstances so we can begin to shift those.
I remember going on vacation and having these perspective shifts, but as someone looking simply to escape herself, they actually left me feeling more confused. I would realize I had irreconcilable differences with the life I'd built but I wasn't conscious enough about it to be able to mindfully and intentionally apply my new perspective to actually shifting my circumstances. I'd always slip back into old patterns as my day to day grind took hold of me again and, in the end, my vacations would leave me feeling even more trapped.
I know a lot of my readers will be able to relate to this. You could say our attitude has essentially been "I need to escape my life for a bit and I know I won't want to come back home because once I'm back, I'll just want to escape even more."
Imagine the possibilities if we'd instead say, "I'm gonna travel so I can shift my perspective enough to see another way and I'm gonna make a pact with myself that I'll act on whatever I see, even if it means doing big, courageous things."
Which attitude sounds like more fun to you? Having done both, I can tell you that #2 is the much more rewarding game.
Every time I set out on a new adventure with this attitude, I experience a rapid emotional growth spirt as my coach's mind witnesses how I interact with new, unfamiliar settings. When I travel with other mindful people who can reflect and tell me the truth about what they see, that growth is exponential. Doing this regularly allows me to constantly make adjustments to my life so I keep in alignment with my evolving purpose and desire.
As a life coach, I wanted so badly for my clients to have access to this kind of growth that I co-founded a company which takes people traveling to far-out locations and facilitates intensive retreats-on-the-go. Because getting on the phone with a coach and talking about who we think we are and how we showed up to meet our circumstances last week is one thing (and it's valuable in its own right), but seeing and shifting, in real-time, the parts that emerge when we're outside of our element is another.
It's in exposure to other cultures, in navigating unexpected details of foreign customs, in witnessing awe-inspiring natural wonders, in seeing the juxtaposition of our expectations and experiences, in being witnessed how we show up to meet our challenges, and in doing so in community, that we really begin to see ourselves and our unique relationships to our world clearly. There is some alchemy in the combination of coaching and traveling that's unprecedented in my half-decade in the field of life coaching.
While travel never turned out to be the escape I was looking for, it offered something better and quite the opposite. It's a reconciliation between myself and everything I want to escape (those pesky things in my life which I perceive as happening to me or just the way things are). This reconciliation happens naturally when I travel because with each new setting and each new circumstance, I see how I show up to to my life in the same ways, and I see that none it is about setting or circumstance, but rather about my perspective.
More than anything else, it's been travel that's allowed me to witness how I create my entire world through my interaction with it. The more I see how I create my experience of all these different cultures and landscapes, the less tempted I am to chase the fantasy that there's some place out there where I could escape from myself.
The more I've traveled, the more I've become certain there are no external factors I can blame or credit. I've been to 17 countries in the past year and I am the same person in all of them. Every time I've wanted to blame my culture, my job, my family, my friends, my enemies, the government, the rules, etc... I simply can't anymore because all my feelings and experiences point back to me and the fact that I'm still the same person when each one of those external factors is different than it was yesterday.
I could speak volumes on how liberating it is to have nothing and no one left to blame; to have the perspective to be able to finally take responsibility for my experience without caveats. It allows for so much more adventuring, discovering, and celebrating and so much less languishing in helplessness.
So I have an invitation: Consider booking a flight to somewhere you've never even considered going. Skip the dream vacation; the one you've already got expectations of and a fantasy to live out in. Instead, choose somewhere off your own radar and see who you are in that totally foreign and unfamiliar place that you expect nothing from.
Won't it be exciting to see what happens, and what it reveals for you?
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