One of the things I love about being a coach is that I often have the opportunity to coach other women through exactly what I need for myself.
Yesterday was one of those days.
One of the participants in my Reclaiming Your Sexual Self Program asked a question about pleasure and overwhelm.
She shared that during the last few weeks of the program she had felt more energy and enthusiasm for life than she had in years, and as a result she had added many activities she loved back into her life. Activities like creating with her hands, taking classes, learning a new language, and making new friends. All things that made her heart and soul sing!
As she was adding these things to her calendar, she noticed that she began to feel stressed. Her lizard brain was criticizing her, telling her she wasn’t ready and couldn’t do it all. Her enthusiasm vanished and was replaced by feelings of pressure, overwhelm, and tension.
Through all this, she continued her daily pleasure practice, which kept her connected to her body. As a result, she noticed that even though individually these things each brought her joy, scheduling them all into her calendar – and actually doing them all – brought tension, pressure and overwhelm.
Her body was giving her a clue.
As I read her question I realized that my body had been giving me some clues that I had been ignoring.
Here’s what was going on for me…
This year I have been so excited about expanding my impact on women’s health that I’ve eagerly and enthusiastically jumped into many new projects!
Over the course of 2020, I’ve added leadership training and professional development courses for myself, creating a new program, updating my website, and studying for a national exam. All things that felt like a “hell yes” when I began them, and fun and joyful since. But recently, with the holidays coming and my daughter home from college, amidst everything else going on, I had lost my usual spark. I felt more tense and less energetic and inspired, and I hadn’t been paying attention to that.
So as I sat down to respond, I realised that I also had followed my pleasure and joy into a completely overwhelming schedule.
I’ve done this before. Many, many, many times before.
Maybe you can relate?
While it’s a tempting and highly conditioned trap to fall into, prioritizing productivity over pleasure never turns out well.
It almost always ends up in overwhelm and exhaustion, and over time results in chronic lack of joy, loss of energy, tension, pain, anxiety, and depression.
Over the past 10 years I have seen over and over that at the root of most chronic health issues lies a pattern of prioritizing work over pleasure, mind over body, and ‘to do’ list completion over natural energy flow.
And let’s be honest, we all know that there is no end to our ‘to do’ list – especially when we start to add pleasure, joy, and other self care to our list of things to get done.
So how do you solve this conflict?
You put your body in charge.
Self Care Tip: Follow Your Emotional Flow
If we as women want our lives to work, our guiding principle needs to always be to trust our body, follow our joy, and come back to pleasure and flow first. This is a simple but powerful self care tip.
No matter how many things we have to do.
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” ― Joseph Campbell
It requires healing your relationship with pleasure so that you can feel pleasure in your body (not only in your mind).
Otherwise, we’re giving from an empty dried up well. We have nothing to give.
Prioritizing pleasure allows us to give from the overflow.
It’s a self care tip worth following.
If we don’t do this though, we’re sacrificing our health and our joy, and even more importantly we’re missing out on our opportunity to have a real impact, on our families, our communities, and the world.
Because our real power comes from coming alive. From being connected to our body and soul. It doesn’t come from our mind.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman
What the world needs is for you to come alive.
And you do that one moment at a time, checking in with your body to see what feels good – now.
Simple but not necessarily easy.
No matter what is on your ‘to do’ list today – whether it’s full of things you want to do or that you believe need to be done – I challenge you to come back to your body and prioritize your pleasure.
What if you give yourself permission to only do what you actually want to do – right now?
As for me, once I realized what had happened, I took a breath and gave myself permission to set aside my list of things to do, and do what I actually wanted to do.
I took my own self care tip, and in that instant, I felt the pressure lift and space for me open up.
I put on my favorite playlist, warmed up my room, and spent several hours moving and dancing and connecting with my body. I felt my energy begin to flow and my enthusiasm for life return.
Sometimes, even when we are prioritizing pleasure, we can follow that pleasure straight into overwhelm. Old habits kick in and before we know it our mind is scheduling our self-care and pleasure as if they are things that need to be checked off our list.
You’re not going to heal your body or create a joyful life by checking things off a list.
There is a better way.
Check in with your body. What does it need right now? What do you want? What would actually feel like self-care and pleasure?
It’s ok if you don’t know. Discovering these answers is the healing journey.
You’ll get there, one moment of pleasure at a time.