When I stepped into the role of facilitating psychological, spiritual and emotional healing for others so many, many moons ago I mostly worked with women.
I STILL work primarily with women. And I AM a woman.
(And just to be clear, I am defining woman as anyone who IDENTIFIES with being a woman. That includes cis-gendered heterosexual women, gay or lesbian women or trans gendered women.)
I LOVELOVELOVE working with women and am on a serious MISSION to help them liberate themselves from all KINDS of oppression, obstructions and restraints, both internal and external. I never get tired of finding ways to guide and inspire them to become MORE free to be themselves. To unconditionally support them in living their life in ways that THEY choose. And to make it safe for them to express and create in their own unique way.
Which is why I created and continue to offer my teacher training program, various workshops and expressive arts/intuitive painting retreats as avenues for women to have the experience in creative community of being joyously empowered and juicily alive.
So I have a pretty good idea about the concerns that women struggle with on a regular basis. And one of the biggest dilemmas they grapple with has to do with the ongoing issue of personal desire.
Most women I know have some pretty big taboos and prohibitions about simply WANTING anything.
We learn early on to not even KNOW what we want. Which means we can’t ever ask for what we want. And even if we somehow manage through some sleight of hand to GET what we want we often can’t enjoy it because we feel like we don’t deserve it.
And not knowing, talking about or ever GETTING what we want tends to create a situation where we feel depressed and powerless and not very happy in our lives. What we learn is that we are supposed to find happiness and joy and fulfillment helping other people get what THEY want.
We find ourselves in a loop where we start to feel unhappy and then do MORE of the thing that is supposed to make us happy ( i.e taking care of others) but which actually ends up creating more dissatisfaction and more depression.
Now it’s not like supporting others can’t be a TOTALLY awesome, life enhancing experience. We all know how wonderful it can feel to nurture someone’s dream or celebrate their success or allow them to feel seen and held and loved through your compassionate attention.
It’s what healers, mothers, guides and facilitators DO.
But if that’s ALL you ever do you are on the fast track to Burnout Highway. Which means that you will eventually NOT want to take care of anyone at all. Ever.
And then you’ll really be in a pickle because you’ll be too cranky to get joy from giving to others, but won’t know how to re-energize yourself again.
So it’s really, really important that you learn how to know WHAT you want. To be courageous enough to ask for it. And to truly receive it when it DOES come to you.
I love, love LOVE pithy little slogans that can help folks remember some of the concepts I teach. So when I first started seeing this pattern in my work with women, I came up with a slogan that I would introduce early on at all of my workshops and retreats.
And that slogan was Be Needy, Greedy and PROUD of it. Every time I say that to a new group of women their eyes get wide in horror and they look at me in shock as if I’ve just asked them to participate in a group strip tease.
Which on some level I have, because exposing your needs and being HAPPY about getting them met DOES require a certain amount of vulnerability and emotional nakedness.
But it was also shocking because this invitation was flying in the face of a HUGE cultural taboo, which is that as a woman you should NEVER ask for anything.
In fact, you should never really NEED anything other than the joy of taking care of others. And if you DO need something it’s best to either totally suppress it, or if you REALLY have to address it, to take care of it on your own. Preferably in secret. Where nobody can see you do it.
But when the only avenue you have to meet your needs is by sneaking around, your true needs become hidden and distorted.
Which reinforces the message that needs are SHAMEFUL. And when the shame around needing and wanting takes over, women end up doing things like binge eating, or shopping recreationally or watching too much Netflix which are all attempts to SECRETLY fill the needs tank.
But of course, none of those activities address our real needs which are for things like:
Loving human connection where we are seen and heard and valued.
Time to ourselves.
Opportunities to create.
Speaking our truth.
Being nourished and nurtured.
Expressing our authentic emotions.
Having fun + going on adventures.
Abundance on all levels.
Independence + making choices.
And, finally, not feeling responsible for other beings for awhile.
The truth is that Desire is a form of power. And getting our needs met allows us to FEEL powerful. Because we are acting on our own behalf from a place of sovereignty and agency.
And that power is last thing that the patriarchal system we are all a part of wants us to experience. Because if we are tapped into our power, goddess KNOWS what we might end up creating with that power.
Getting our needs met, ESPECIALLY via our own volition through making life affirming choices, is the best and most effective anti-depressant on the planet. Getting our needs met gives us the message that we are valuable and deserving of goodness. It increases our sense of self esteem and self worth.
When we have our wants and needs responded to and taken seriously, especially by ourselves, we feel more confident. We know we can take care of ourselves. We trust ourselves and life in a deeper way. And we are simply happier and having WAY more fun.
The first step on this journey of self empowerment is to simply give yourself PERMISSION to have wants, needs and desires. To acknowledge them when they arise. To treat them as welcome guests in your life.
And then to joyfully meet those wants and needs whenever it is humanly possible.