Today we’re going to talk about 3 things:
First, we’ll explore how to increase the amount of love you experience in your life, we’ll also talk about sex -how to make it better and deeper for you and your partner. Then we’ll dive into shame & how it constrains your success in the first two areas. Finally, you’ll learn my one powerful secret of how to transcend shame and create freedom for yourself and others.
- A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person (Websters)
- A feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person deemed a desirable mate (Collins dictionary)
- The experience of feeling acutely alive, fully understood & appreciated by another (A.L)
What is love? I’ve been studying it for 15 years & I’m still not sure. It’s this mysterious human emotion eludes definition by even the greatest poets, writers & scientists. What’s more, it’s a moving target—shifting and evolving with our own personal development.
Humans seem to have a universal need to belong and to love, and this gets satisfied when an intimate relationship is formed. And so we pursue love, some more relentlessly than others. Yet all of us dreamt of a fairytale romance at some point in our life and had fantasies of what happily-ever-after could be.
However, very few of us are still connected to that dream, and that’s what called me to me to do this work in the first place. A lot of what I do is help skeptics believe in love. But skeptics never think they are skeptics, they take refuge in ‘realism’. We must all must be vigilant against our inner skeptic. Even now, mine courts me regularly while keeping love at bay.
But why should we bother to love? What does it offer us? Why does it matter?
Well, there are many reasons: companionship, support, sex, evolutionary pair bonding for child rearing, to avoid loneliness, get validation etc. But the most powerful pull it has for me, is LOVE as a transformative force or LOVE as a teacher.
Love as a Path to Self-Actualization
Love is the most powerful creative force on the planet. Making love literally creates life, which is the best magic trick going on the planet! Love also facilitates your development into new ways of being. I see it as a gym and a university custom fitted to take you to the next level wherever you are in your life. Love develops your strengths and teaches you about what’s most important to you. What’s more, when coupled with honesty, it is a reckoning. It mirrors and reveals your fears, your insecurities and your darkest shadow. The deepest internal development work you will ever do in your life is inside of your romantic relationship. Let me say that again…the deepest internal developmental work you will ever do in your life is inside of your romantic relationship.
It isn’t easy to be in love, this is not for the faint hearted; it’s a gladiator sport. Real partnership will put you in front of a mirror to see your ugliest bits. And you’ll want to run like hell at times, but if you are with your true love, this desire to run will only linger for a few moments, until you catch your breath and realize you’re with the most amazing man you’ve ever met. So you don’t run. You come back and do the ‘work’. This is why it’s SO important to be with your true love and not a ‘good-enough-guy’.
Anything less than true love, and your ego (which doesn’t want you to change) will convince you to leave him and find someone ‘easier’. But easier won’t help you grow into your highest self. The same old problems will simply haunt you in the next relationship. Love kinda traps you (in good way), so you can’t run. Where are you going to go? When you’re in love, you’re already with the best partner you’ve ever met, so there is nowhere to run. All there is, is to move forward and bring your best effort towards creating the partnership.
Only through real love, can we finally come to terms with those parts of our self we’ve been running from our whole life. Love offers us access to who we really want to be; & who we really are. I want you to demand this of your love…demand to be challenged and pushed and nudged into growth. If love isn’t expanding you, isn’t pulling forward your most authentic self, it’s a waste of your time.
As Rilke’s says, “love is the work for which ALL other work is merely preparation”.
Now I want to go into some quick practical ideas around love.
Many clients ask me, “How do I know I’m REALLY in love?” Here’s how you know…
- First, you’re interested in his needs, wants & desires as equally important as your own (eg: you facilitate him connecting with his parents as much as you engage with yours)
- You’re unwilling to lie to him (knowing you withheld or fudged the truth with your lover puts an invisible wedge between you and him, if only in your own mind)
- his deepest opinion of you is the most important of anyone’s (you trust him with your life, more than anyone else)
- you clearly see him in your future, that future excites you (he fills out and stretches the dreams you’ve always had about your life)
- you feel expanded & privileged by his presence in your life (not taken for granted)
- you’re willing to do ANYTHING to make the relationship work -whether it’s transcend your identity or strengthen your self hood
How do you know he’s in love with you?
-he’s genuinely interested in your opinion, feeling, ideas, needs and wants
-he’s willing to fight for your highest self even if it hurts your ego & costs your approval
-he clearly sees his life with you as his partner in the future
-he says he will do whatever it takes to make this work and you believe him
NOTE: you can’t ever make someone else love you. But you can only develop yourself into the most amazing version of your brand of woman possible and then surrender that beauty to what’s most important to you, and then the right ‘HE’ will suddenly show up.
Barrier to Love: Power Wielding/ Threats
First, don’t be fooled by relationship threats that form in your mind or his, these can seem to suggest you’re not in love…but they’re our ego’s attempts at sabotage. The ego knows that love is dangerous. It pulls for the status quo, familiar = safe. The ego knows it must die for true love to be born. 1+1=3 (there’s you, your partner and the relationship). Love requires you die into something bigger than just yourself, the emergent higher level ‘US’. Love is very expensive -physically & emotionally. It will cost your ego, not just a lot…but everything!
For the relationship, the “US” to triumph, the ego has to surrender to that greater thing that subsumes it, the ‘WE’. And the ego is used to its tyrannical reign, which is why it won’t go down without a fight. The ego will send out defenses to stave off love, often in the form of threats to the relationship…
“We have to fix this or else…” this is often a bluff. Unless your partner actually leaves, I see it all as subtle leveraged attempts at power. Our ego threatens to exit in order to get its way…it will risk everything to stay alive.
The first thing I teach couples is to close all their exits. When angry we often make unconscious threats to the life of the relationship. I advise no threats to the relationship for at least 3-6 of months. They must create a safe container for the relationship to grow. Like a child with 2 parents, the relationship needs to feel safe first or it cannot relax into the state that allows development. The main msg for you: NO more threats to relationship. It is morally unsophisticated and the breaching of a sacred pact. Can you imagine 2 parents fighting and one of them grabbing their child and holding a knife to the kid’s neck, threatening to kill it unless the other gave them what they wanted? That’s what a threat to the relationship translates to. It’s a cop-out.
Threats take on various forms, intensities and tones (they can be from a v-victim stance or p-perpetrator stance), they’re usually undercover and they can sound something like these samples:
- This is going to be over if you don’t…(p)
- We’ll never work unless you…(p)
- I’m leaving if you don’t… (p)
- If you don’t do this, I’m outta here …(p)
- This isn’t going to work. (v/p)
- Unless we get this handled, I’m not staying (p)
- I’m not sure about us. (v)
- Why are we even together then? (victim version)
- Why are you with me? (v)
- I don’t know why we’re doing this? (v)
- I’d fed up, I can’t take this anymore. (v)
- I don’t know why I put up with this. (v)
All of these are guised threats, intended to exert power over the lifeline of the relationship, look for the leverage hidden in the statements. None of the statements assume we will get through this, or that the issue is solvable with collaboration.
In a power struggle, the goal is to be right, not be happy or resolve the problem. Start noticing how you create power struggles and how you wield leverage, do you exert subtle manipulations and unconsciously threaten to get your way? This is an unconscious pervasive habit that must be watched and curbed.
First step in relationships, is to always Close all the Exits, only this will give you access to your best self and the truth about what’s possible. Threats only provide short-term unsustainable changes.
NOTE: Now your job is NOT to look for where your partner is threatening the relationship and go tell him to stop. Your job is to look for where YOU are doing these things and for YOU to stop. Until the exits are closed, the relationship has no chance to feel safe & move up maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In a relationship, or with a child who doesn’t feel safe, if survival needs aren’t taken care of…it cannot develop emotionally, intellectually or spiritually.
A lot of what I do with clients is hold up the mirror so they can see how they threaten and manipulate their way into love. I then share with them how to get what they want w/o these unconscious, clandestine techniques. Love requires you to surrender your power and trust in the ‘2-person system’. In real partnership, the system will naturally ensure your needs get met, but you have to lean in and trust it. This is counter-intuitive and difficult to do, that’s why SO much courage is required in love.
Surrendering to the relationship is nothing short of an art form and it can only be practiced and honed over time with attention, diligence and support. Much of my work with clients is about teaching them how to do this.
Barrier to Love: Cynicism
In order to find Love…first, you must believe in it.
Many of us fear the naked vulnerability of being fully exposed to another and so we shrink from it, hiding in our well-justified boxes of cynicism & doubt. But cynics are actually failed idealists. They too had fantastic dreams once, but after disappointment & pain they turned off their belief in the possibility of true love. It is that part of you, that I want to talk to.
Notice your own hidden cynicism, it the enemy of true love and produces stillborn relationships. But beware, cynicism never announces itself, it always shows up in disguise. We all must be vigilant of our inner cynic…
It often sounds like this: “Oh, he’ll never change”…”I don’t know how to do this” I can’t do this anymore” “I’m not made for this” “It’s never going to get better” “I knew this would happen” “This is just who I am” even when you do a subtle eye roll to what your partner said or an internal “Whatever” these are all forms of give-up ness. This is your ego courting you to surrender to the status quo,don’t fall for it.
When you say ‘never’ or ‘always’, it’s an absolutism and a form of cynicism. This thinking is closed, contracted & final, not expansive. Anything that doesn’t have wide open possibilities in it’s speaking, is a form of cynicism.
Here’s the deal, if you don’t actually believe something is possible, then you simply can not ever experience it. If it doesn’t exist for you, then you won’t be able to see it. Even when it hits you in the face. It’s like noticing a new word everywhere once you first learn what it means.
Next part of developing love> Never Settle
In order to reach this ideal of true love, not only must you believe in it, you must also never give up your search. A relentless, tenacity is required to keep you playing the love game -through pain, through heartbreak, through doubt, through everything. So you must never ever settle. And you’ll know if that’s what you’re doing. Here’s the painful clue: If you even have to ask the question at all “Am I settling?”, then you probably are…
If you feel like you’re settling, then it isn’t the ‘real’ thing. What you’re looking for is your heart, your head and your body all to agree. True Love always feels like a rare, unbelievable gift. It generates gratitude and an overwhelming sense of reverence. No one feels like they’re ‘settling’ when they encounter the Grand Canyon. We don’t look up through the Hubble telescope and say…yeah, that’s nice, it’ll do. To be in love is to be continuously overwhelmed with awe.
I invite you to revisit the part of you that believes you can have the kind of relationship that nourishes and expands your desire to grow and develop yourself. Where your head, heart and body all agree. I invite you to have faith.
Faith, in a relationship, is the umbilical cord that connects you and your lover to each other and success in a long-term partnership. In life there are no guarantees, but if you want it to last forever, your job is to continuously keep faith alive. Faith, remember, has no reasons, no proofs or justifications…it is pure blind resolve based on nothing but the unwavering belief in something you find so beautiful you cannot bear NOT to believe in it. Faith is sometimes the only thing that keeps you going when the relationship seems dark and hopeless. It is something you create in yourself, a fixed mark that keeps you tethered to your relationship’s future success, when you forget all the ‘reasons’ and cannot feel the emotion. Faith is the only thing that can save you. It’s YOUR job to keep the faith in your love, not HIS.
If you don’t believe in true love, really…you will not only never be able to find it, create it and give it, you will also miss out on the quintessential characteristic of being a human being. You will probably turn into one of those grumpy hard-shelled characters that kill dreams in other unconsciously and find reasons to stay small and satisfied with life as is. You will also lose your most vivacious friends and end up in a career that is unsatisfying emotionally. As well, you may never find a soul-mate, and even if you find a partner to get married and have kids, they will grow up never finding true love for themselves because the templates they grew up with were mediocre & flawed.
So I invite you to believe in true love, not because you have good reasons, not because it’s the right thing or what’s expected, not because I ask you to, but because a life where true love is possible is simply more inspiring than a life where true love is not. And life without inspiration is no kind of life.
Now let’s talk about sex….
Our Access To Immortality
We all know what sex is…the drive to mate, perpetuate our genes and garner some form of Immortality. It’s coded in our system as THE most powerful human force. Understanding it’s consummate & pervasive power equips us to work with, and co-opt this hard-wiring for conscious use. You can’t fight your sex drive any more than you can stop your blood from flowing. If you try to suppress your sexuality, the frustration merely leaks into other areas of your life, unbeknownst to you, and then wreaks havoc in ways you cannot trace or solve.
Stymied success in business, career, family, creativity, physicality or relationships often have their root in sexual issues and repression. In short, sex can make or break a relationship; it is a litmus test for its health. Like pH, if the balance isn’t right, things can get sour fast. Here are some ways to look at sex that have max utility in your romantic relationships:
Make sex an important ritual
Sex is not a luxury, it’s a basic human need and if you refuse to genuinely investigate your relationship to sex, your naiveté could set you up with a faulty foundation for your intimate relationships. Like food and sleep, have sex regularly whether you want to or not. If you only ever wait for when you ‘feel’ like eating or sleeping, you will not be a happy camper. You must be proactive and take care of both your sexual needs upstream, before desperation sets in. Straight up: little sex = unhealthy relationship. This may sound controversial but I believe sexual frustration and unresolved sexual issues are the hidden, underlying cause for most romantic conflicts.
Aggression and sex are closely connected in our hindbrain. In fact much aggressive behavior is barely distinguishable from sexual behavior in many animals in the wild. If you’re engaged in any conflict, same sex or opposite, ask yourself how might this issue be related to sex? There’s almost always a hidden link or story. Give example of recent fight with/Eben…verbally resolved, later followed by a sexy session. Right after we were finished ‘playing’ he blurted out, “Damn, I was all angry and riled up earlier, but all I needed was to fuck.“ Indeed. Next time you or your guy are feeling irritable or angry, try on that one of you is just plain horny, and take care of business.
Key: ritualize love-making, make it a sacred physical/emotional conversation that deepens your connection through regular practice. Set times aside for sexual connection the way you make dinner plans. Romance needs to be scheduled -how and what you do can still remain spontaneous.
Learn to generate your own sex drive
The trick is learning how to create -from scratch- your own sexual interest & appetite, especially if you’re part of a long term couple. Waiting for the perfect circumstance to arise, or the exact mood, or the right state is a dead-end game. I recommend you attend to the subtle sexual reactions in your body during the day. The tiniest sexual thought, feeling or urge, once observed by your mind, can then be consciously massaged and ramped up to full-blown desire for your partner. Co-opt random environmental temptations (other men, memories, fatasies) generate hunger however, whenever it occurs, then consciously bring that desire to your relationship and channel it into your sex life. “It doesn’t matter where you get your appetite as long as you come home for dinner”
We often see our sex drive as an unbidden force that mysteriously comes and goes as it pleases. Recognizing that what you feel is not only your choice but your creation is an important insight. The next step is putting powerful components in place that potentate the natural emergence of your own sexual desire. ”Foreplay is everything you do when you’re not having sex.”
Moment to moment, you are either feeding your sensuality or numbing it. Start noticing what gives you pleasure -which sights, sounds, textures, smells, ideas… this a form of auto-foreplay that’s useful to practice. Becoming an archaeologist, excavating pleasure from the subterranean depths of your own psyche is key to being a great lover. When it comes to pleasure…you can’t give it, if you don’t have it. Story: see hot guy in magazine or poster, bring it home make it into a role play, juice the energy of it for your relationship. Enroll your partner to play with you…maybe you got a surprise txt form your guy during the day and felt an wakening between your legs soon after…go masturbate, but don’t come, and then tell him later what you did and invite him to help you finish.
Look for beauty in your lover
What do you notice about your partner? Imperfection or Sexiness? Flaws or gifts? Mistakes or commitments? Become aware of what softens you and turns you on about them. Fill your attention with those things. Filter for the positive in your partner and let that inform your affection & desire. Whatever you become aware of expands under your attention. Looking for things to appreciate and admire in your self, your partner and in the world is an upstream move that predisposes you for a healthy sexual dynamic. Next time you’re with your man…pay attention to some physical part of his body, focus on it , study it, memorize it, notice how your affection increases for anything you attend to…make this a practice, use new parts of his body to study and befriend. Anything you research and explore, you will eventually fall for.
Sex as therapeutic tool
Like conversation, a massage, or a warm bath, sex provides a forum for emotional shifts and relaxing out of difficult states. Especially when going through conflict or hardship, sexual interludes give the body a chance to reboot.
Sex floods the body with a variety of hormones & endorphins that shift mood and state. Sexual initiations, may feel counter-intuitive during stress & conflict, but similar to shutting down and restarting a hung computer, it can often be the fastest way to get back to baseline functioning when having a problem.
David Deida, the most advanced teacher on male/female dynamics, claims that during a conflict, the most counter-intuitive but effective move is to shift your partner from anger/aggression to sexuality. In other words, he encourages women to start being sexy and seductive to their man during a fight. This breaks his mental trance/ pattern/ state and gets him into his body and therefore closer to his emotions. Deida also encourages men to initiate sexuality with their woman when she’s upset. It can strangely soothe her inner reptile & accompanying insecurities. Be a lover not a fighter.
Sex is a kind of salve. Physical touch is the first language we learn. As a newborn baby, it is the main sensory modality we use to assess safety, love and protection. Engaging physically with another communicates on a primal body level that you’re safe and coveted. It soothes out stress, confusion, insecurity and fear, offering a refuge from pain and a sanctuary for emotional recharge.
Sex as playground for the Imagination
Creativity is what pulls us into flow states. The more we bring to our conversations, our interactions and our sexuality, the more alive we feel. Unfortunately, most people are shoddy lovers. No one ever teaches us how to have sex, growing up, so we piece it together from random fragments in cinema, novels and porn. And rarely do we get direct honest feedback on how we are in bed, constructive criticism being almost non-existent. And so sex is a mysterious realm fraught with shame, fear, confusion and insecurity not to mention incredibly high stakes. Having fun is usually the last thing on the agenda. I suspect the answer is to become a great experimenter. In the context of a deep, supportive relationship you should be able to bring your curiosity, fascination, wonderment and a sense of adventure to your sexual interactions. Try out new and interesting ideas, positions, role-plays, fantasies, and costumes, mutually endorsed fetishes. Let your bedroom become a playground for your imagination and watch your prowess and confidence grow with every new game you try. Sex is often the only place left where grown-ups get to really let go of reality and play.
Let’s look at SHAME and how it relates to sex.
Shame & Sex
Shame is our biggest impasse to fun, exploration & freedom in both love & sex.
Many of us are riddled with shame -we’re ashamed of wanting sex, ashamed of needing sex, we’re ashamed what we crave, like and even ashamed of pleasure itself.
One feature of Shame is that it only lives in the dark, it needs to be hidden in order to survive. Secrecy is its oxygen. This leads to the first important tool for spotting hidden shame in your life:
Whatever you don’t want to talk about is usually something you’re ashamed of. Whatever you are uncomfortable sharing with others is often something you have shame about. Unless we’re talking about bank details or credit card numbers, it’s most likely shame that having you keep secrets.
I invite you to notice what you want to hide, keep private, withhold as secret and this will indicate where you likely have shame lurking.
Shame is about ‘others’, it’s a form of social consciousness installed from birth as part of our tribal heritage. When we lived in small groups of 200 on the plains of Africa , our survival depended on our ability to stay united with tribe. If there were 7 pieces of meat to go around and you ate more than your share, another tribe member wouldn’t get fed and could die. So following the implicit social order was extremely important for tribal success.
Shame evolved as policing mechanism to ensure individual members self-oriented needs didn’t sabotage the group survival. If you took an extra piece of meat you could and would get ostracized and left alone in the savannah to die. That’s why shame feels like pending death in our body…because our wiring codes breaking social order as possible death. If your tribe doesn’t like you, is pointing at you for something bad, then your life was literally at risk. So we learned in our nervous system to avoid that. That’s why public speaking is more terrifying than death…it’s coded that way. People aren’t really afraid of public speaking per se, they’re afraid of public embarrassment; if they don’t get approval from audience it feels like the end of the world.
This instinct is now built into our wiring, and kicks in even when we are alone. There’s always invisible ‘others’ around in our mind and they’re the one’s we are afraid might see the bad parts of us.
Kids are born shameless…they have the capacity for it, like language, but they don’t come with words any more than they come with what to be ashamed of. Watch children, they don’t care if there’s poo in their bum or if they make a mistake or they sound dumb… until a grown up teaches them that they should feel ashamed…some even say it!
Parents unwittingly pass on their shames to their kids and so these pristine shameless minds learn what in them is good, acceptable and lovable and what is not…and what is not becomes shameful. As a kid, we have our point of view and God’s point of view (our parents), and when God says you’re bad, you believe it & let it override your feelings and experience. And so begins the tragic, split of the child’s private internal truth and the externally imposed truth. Whatever gets split off in the child’s mind, then goes underground to live in the dark, in secrecy where it’s safe from judgment.
The external judgments (from adults, teachers, friends, lovers) creates ostracized fragments of ourselves that get housed underground, in the unconscious basement as disconnected, un-integrated shadow parts of ourselves. These hidden parts can never be killed or lost. They just wait for an opportunity to get their hands on the steering wheel of your life, then they hijack your unconscious and wreak inadvertent havoc across your life.
Just about ALL of the places you might be stuck in your life…is the result of a parts conflict. Where one conscious part of you wants one thing and an unconscious, often shame-driven part, wants another thing. And so they engage in an underground war that you don’t even know is going on. Until that unconscious fragment of you that’s dying to be included, is acknowledged, appreciated and invited back upstairs to the dinner table to sit with the rest of your more lovable parts, it will continue to hold you back from what you really want in your life. Working with these ‘conflicting parts’ is a lot of the work I do with clients. And until the struggle surfaces and gets conscious, it will continue in the background. You cannot fight a phantom and win.
So how to deal with this underground stash of darkness that could be sabotaging your love life? We’ll get to that. First let’s look at how shame impacts sex and love.
Sex…anything you want sexually that you do not already have is likely because you are somehow ashamed of it. Some part of you doesn’t want to want it, doesn’t think it should want it. Is afraid of wanting it. Thinks the want itself is bad somehow.
A young child wants and has desires and moves towards them easily, it knows something deeply true that we often forget as adults. Desire and wants are inherently good and they have and require NO justification. In fact the only thing about the human condition that is w/o purpose intention or agenda is our whim and our fancies. Any story we concocted about why we want it, is usually a retro-fitted fiction. We want…why? Because. That’s it, end of story. And that’s reason enough.
So kids know this and they want wantonly and they go for what they want, they’ll touch strangers legs and reach for anyone’s food they see; they are living from source. No shame, no apology, no shoulds or shouldn’ts.
Our only chance at freedom is to regain this sensibility, starting with the awareness that ALL our truest wants and desires are inherently good, beautiful and valid. Simply because they exist. In fact, I’d go one step further, they are the most real parts of ourselves, the most unique and the most sacred. If there’s one thing I would want you to get from this class it’s this: Following your deep wants & desires in a world with external constraints is the art of being a fully socialized human. The paradox game is to maximally conserve our desires while staying aligned with our desired environments and dancing that ying/yang line that separates the two.
So for sex… listen to your desires, listen to your wants, record them, write them down, use them to learn who you are, really. If our sexuality was a character, most of us have barely gotten past learning her name. Get to know your own your sexuality and make her your best friend.
Start with masturbation. If you don’t do it, begin now. Make this a high priority. Get support if you can’t find a way on your own. Try the book “Sex for One” by Betty Dodson. Buy a vibrator and a start using it. You can ask your partner for help, read books, get a coach, but make sure you know how to generate sexual pleasure for yourself.
You can never be good in bed with others if you’re not good in bed alone. As a woman, learning about your body and what she wants, needs , craves and desires is not only your access to source energy and wisdom but it’s what you will need most to navigate through your relationships.
Second, become a researcher, like Jane Goodall, observing her apes. Be insanely curious, be fascinated, take notes on your own behaviors and likes and dislikes and learn about the character of your sexual animal with your partner. Interview her regularly so you know what’s going down there. Find your hunger buttons, explore what excites her. I actually use my pussy as a gage to decide whether I like something or not in the world. Do I want to drink apple juice or orange juice? Ask my pussy.
I learned from a friend & teacher Mama Gena, if your pussy she says no, listen. Your sex, literally starts with your vagina and if you don’t have a good solid connection with her, you will be forever lost in the games of romance. She is your best compass. Start translating what she wants to him; give her the microphone and some stage time. Until she is given the space, time and encouragement to speak out, you as a woman will always be unhappy, and so will your man.
I invite you to cultivate your inner female animal during sex, make noises, move your body, nibble, scratch, grope, caress, talk, laugh, be wild…sex is not supposed to be civilized, it’s supposed make you and your partner feel more alive. The point of all experience and emotions, is not to feel good or to feel bad, it’s to feel more alive.
With sex, stop being polite and start being yourself. No one wants to have sex with a series of protocols. At our deep core we want to be and be with, a real, messy, untamed human animal. I encourage you to invite your partner to be messy, imperfect, foolish, playful, experimental, ridiculous with you…if you don’t give them permission, explicitly (in words) and implicitly with your body language, eyes, smile and energy, they will forever be constrained in bed, as will you. Lead by example.
Your job as a lover is to unleash your partner’s deepest animal, help them be free, make mistakes and expand into their most audacious self. That’s what it means to love -full acceptance, exactly as they are.
In summary: sex can be seen as many things, it’s a habit, a pre-condition for health, it’s a sacred ritual, it’s a problem solver, it’s a system reboot, it’s a sanctuary, it’s a salve, it’s a therapy and a playground. But most of all, it’s an exercise in intimacy, an ecstatic communion with self and other and world. So have lots, often, even and especially when you don’t feel like it.
Quick note on “Pleasure limits”…
With sex, it’s all about pleasure. Sex is the primal source of ALL pleasure, so if you struggle with feeling and enjoying pleasure, you will always be stopped in sex. Pleasure can feel terrifying to some who learned at an early age that is was somehow wrong or not useful.
And we all have this cap -a limit to the pleasure we allow ourselves to feel. Each of us has a threshold beyond which we retract from more pleasure…but our body codes it as scary or dangerous or too much. At a certain intensity, everyone pulls back. And this is often what happens in love.
Many fights happen right after an deeply connected or intimate state. Our system senses this euphoric delight and at some unknown point it flips the unconscious switch into “can’t handle this” and we retract from our bodies, our delight and the other person…then ensues a fight. Fights are a way of avoiding pleasure while maintaining intimacy. The opposite of love is not hate but indifference …in a fight you may feel distant but it’s actually a very intimate space, all those raw naked emotions pushed up together in the same room…it’s almost sexy.
Shame & Love
How does shame relate to love? Well, wherever, whenever and however we don’t feel loved, it often is related to some part of us that just doesn’t feel lovable.
It occurs as if the other doesn’t love us, but that’s a ruse, just projection. For example: if a stranger on the street called me “fat”…I’d barely notice it. I’m not overweight, in fact I’m a bit too skinny right now. So because I don’t have that particular insecurity ( I have many others) the insult has no place to dock and land and offend me. Whatever feels insulting or offensive to you, does so because some part of you thinks they may be right. Otherwise their comment wouldn’t even bother you at all. This is a hard one to swallow, but when you get it, you will understand your more violent emotional reactions much better.
If we don’t feel loved, it’s an indicator that our internal sense of self is contracted around some hidden shames. These must be discovered and brought into the light.
Many people have a deep unconscious belief that they’re not lovable, which is the result of invisible shames that keep our esteem down (as well as our caliber of mate). We attract partners that match -not who we really are- but who we ‘think’ we are, based on our private self-esteem…I can tell someone’s internal self-worth form the kind of partner they are willing to spend time with. Unbeknownst to our conscious mind, we fall in love with people who we think are on our level. So look at your partner, and you will clearly see what you think of yourself and what you deserve. If you’re proud of what you see, great. If you’re not…then your first task is to go to work on tracking down and finding those hidden parts of you that are hiding out in shame. Find ways to sit with those parts and explore what they need to feel understood and loved. Most people need help with this, either from friends, family coaches or therapists.
All our shames are trying to teach us something, and they won’t go away until we listen. They will keep knocking on that door of your consciousness until you open it. So you need to learn to listen, listen until you hear something new and let that land in your heart with curious fascination, then keep listening.
THE SOLUTION to SHAME
My answer to solving shame is simple & easy….
Look for where you keep secrets, tell lies, and hide yourself from others. Look across the landscape of your life (physically, emotionally & intellectually) observe those places where you don’t want attention, places you want no one else to see. This is the only way YOU can spot shame in yourself. Look for the clues: silence, lies, withholding, hiding, avoidance, secrets. If you’re really serious about this game, this is where you must start. And be honest with your self.
Then you have to do something that requires is a singular act of courage, with no reason and no purpose except to transcend the very shame that is holding you back…
You must tell someone, anyone…start with one person you trust. And know, the more you speak it, the less power it will have over you.
As you begin to tell self & others the shame, (which needs to be hidden in darkness to survive) naturally begins to disappear. Transparency is the only solution to shame. Only the Light of consciousness can dissolve it, like ice melting in the sun. The more people who know, the more it dissolves and the quicker you transcend it’s grip.
The answer to shame is to take it out from the dark and speak it wherever and whenever you can to as many people as you can. But you won’t want to…you will fight what I’m saying and find all kinds of reasons to argue with it. But if you are really serious about getting your life back and transcending the shackles that keep you from getting what you want…this is the only way.
Here’s why: those parts that are banished to the basement and not allowed up for dinner with the other ‘respectable’ parts need to be loved, but before they can be loved they need to be seen -by you and by others.
As you reveal your shame, you will finally meet those parts of you that have been in hiding and only then can you befriend them and make space for them to be understood, valued and appreciated.
Often where we cannot love those parts, our friends, family or partner can! Often, they’ve already seen them, noticed them and they’re still standing there loving you. While you try to hide what is obvious to everyone else. Only after this kind of confession will you really believe their love and start to feel your own acceptance of those parts as well. You cannot do this alone. Shame is born in the context of others and that’s the only way it can be conquered.
As individuals, we go as far as we can go on our own. But only with a partner can we go further, to that next level. Your relationship is the context in which your most profound transformation is possible. True love is the one place custom-built for you to finally accept, appreciate and bring home all those myriad banished parts…finally making you whole, complete and fully radiant again.
Use love, use sex and use shame to investigate where you & your partner are not fully expressed and fully alive. Then take the light of your awareness and shine it all over those parts that are dying to be seen & adored. It is in your quivering, fallible, heart-wrenching humanity that ALL your beauty lurks.
The more you show, the more you know, the farther you go.
So keep going.