Want more pleasure? Do this one thing…

Arms to the sky
Do you want more pleasure in your life?
The one thing you have to do is…
.
.
.
.

…examine your own beliefs about how much pleasure you deserve to have!

How much happiness do I deserve?
How much money do I deserve?
How much sexual satisfaction do I deserve?
How much success do I deserve?

The levels of happiness, money, pleasure, and success in our lives that we believe we deserve, are exactly the levels we have right now.

Anytime something happens in life where we experience more happiness, money, pleasure, or success than we believe we deserve, we sabotage ourselves.

The idea behind all of this is called the “upper limit” and comes from Gay Hendricks in his book “The Big Leap.” (Which is also summarized beautifully in this article.)

Our upper limit is our subconscious belief about how much of anything good we believe we deserve. These beliefs take many different forms, and sometimes include the word “deserve” or are identified when they accompany words and phrases like:

– Should / shouldn’t / can’t…
– That makes me uncomfortable…
– I could never…
– I’m not that special….

– That’s irresponsible / selfish….

Everyone has different upper limit levels for different categories of pleasure. One person may feel that they deserve a lot of money, but not a lot of love. Or another believes they deserve a lot of ease, but not a lot of success. We all have a limit in each of these categories: fun, satisfaction, comfort, adventure, joy, creativity, support, play, money, emotional connection, sexuality, ease, etc.

How our limits are set in these categories can come from a variety of sources:
– Things people have said to us
– Cultural beliefs (current and historical)
– Family beliefs
– Religious / moral beliefs
– Our own stories
– Trauma / harm / abuse

The reasons we maintain these upper limits, usually fall into one of four categories:
– Feeling fundamentally flawed (which often leads to risk avoidance)
– Disloyalty and abandonment (particularly to family)
– Believing more success makes you a bigger burden
– The crime of outshining

This article goes into more detail about each of these reasons

Lastly, the things we do when life is good and exceeds our upper limit beliefs about what we deserve, are “the moves” that knock us back under our unconscious limits. I find these the most fascinating.
– Worry
– Fear
– Waiting/ watching for problems
– Blame or criticism
– Deflection
– Withholding
– Causing conflict
– Breaking agreements
– Illness
– Exhaustion

– Overwhelm

 

sunset
My own process of self-discovery about my upper limits usually goes in reverse order. I start by identifying the upper limiting “moves.” Once I realize that I am doing a “move,” I take a look at what event in my life triggered my upper limit. And interestingly, the move is often unrelated to the event itself! For example, something can go really well at work, and then you pick a fight in your relationship.Once I see what triggered my upper limit, I look at the stories about why I maintain that limit, and where the limit came from in the first place.

My first big discovery with upper limits, came when I saw illness listed on the upper limit moves list. Illness??? My first thought was that getting sick was entirely out of my control and had zero relationship to anything happening in my life or my beliefs about it.

But then I remembered how I would get sick every time I went on vacation. Like clockwork. 3rd day in. I’d get a horrible cold. No one else on the trip would get sick. Just me. This happened so regularly, I remember thinking that maybe I just shouldn’t go on vacation because it kept getting ruined and wasted by these damn colds.

The idea of my cold as an upper limit move was fascinating. Was there an upper limit I had around how nice of a vacation I could have? After some digging, I found that indeed there was. There was a part of me that felt guilty for taking really nice, expensive, luxurious vacations — especially when so many in this world can’t, including some of my dear friends. This, and many of my upper limits, come from the category of “the crime of outshining.”

Outshining is a recurring trend from childhood, and comes from a wound of being criticized, judged, and abandoned by friends when I had good things happen in my life. I found it was much easier to dim my light, than it was to deal with the pain from friendships that couldn’t celebrate my light.

Seeing how I was unconsciously playing out this old story, by getting sick during my awesome vacation, was a huge eye opener. Now that I’m aware of it, I am able to remind myself that I deserve to have nice vacations, that I can feel and hold every ounce of pleasure available, and that my expansion of pleasure does not have to come at the cost of friendships, or anyone else’s enjoyment of pleasure in their lives.

Since becoming aware of this, I enjoy illness-free vacations!

More recently, I had another major upper limit meltdown. The “move” was a total shut down of my brain and body. I couldn’t think straight. I just wanted to crawl into bed and hide. I didn’t want to be touched. I didn’t want to talk. My only description was that I felt overwhelmed.

The evening was comprised of a collection of events, that individually wouldn’t have triggered my upper limit, but collectively were more than I believed I could handle. The events included being in the limelight, making a significant & public financial donation, widespread sharing about our upcoming adventure, and a sexual adventure. One good thing, piled on top of the next. By the sexually charged climax of the evening, my body shut down.

The next morning, I shared this string of events with a friend in hopes of getting help shedding light on the shut down. She congratulated me on hitting my upper limit about how much freedom I deserve — freedom to be fully seen, financial freedom, freedom from corporate America, travel freedom, and sexual freedom. She was exactly right. Yet another upper limit established by the crime of outshining.

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As I talk with friends about their lives, where they want to expand, what they believe they do and don’t deserve, I see how critical understanding this concept of upper limits is to the overall happiness of our lives. Since these stories and moves all operate on a subconscious level, we continue to be subjected to them until we move them into the conscious realm.

This method of recognizing upper limit moves, identifying the stories, releasing the reasons and expanding into more pleasure may not be adequate when upper limits have been established by harm, abuse, or trauma. Those stories deserve to be heard and supported by professionals who can help untangle the associated web of emotions and experiences.

Pleasure is an infinite resource that every human on this planet deserves. And being aware of this concept of upper limits, feels like it puts more power back into each of our hands to expand the amount of pleasure we experience in our lives. My hope is that by shining my light fully, I can be a beacon towards pleasure for those around me.

[In a future post, I’ll tackle the concept and word “deserve” which I think is loaded and limited with its current cultural definition. But it works on an introductory level to understand this radical idea of upper limits.]

I’m sure I’ll be referring to upper limits in my writing going forward, so I wanted to have a summary of my thoughts and experiences on the blog to refer back to. And I hope that this condensed-ish version of the idea will be helpful to my loyal friends who read this blog. If you’ve made it this far into this long post, then that is you!! And thank you!! XOXO

Photo sources: first, second – unknown, third

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Time to write again

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Over a year has passed since my last post. I finally feel the stirrings of words longing to dance through my fingers over the keys.

I stopped writing in the spring last year when I scared myself with the story that sharing my experiences online, while they felt tender, raw, and unsure, was too vulnerable. “Some lessons are better learned in private,” I told myself. “Best to wait until you have it all figured out” (and then can write about it in some concise, witty, articulate blog post). Yes, this is a familiar pattern.

As life transitions, doors close, and others open, I’ve been surprised to feel the desire to write returning. At first, I felt tempted to write a retrospective — a summary of those big moments, key learnings, pivotal undertakings. I wanted to document the relationships that have shaped me, the events that have expanded my capacity to hold pleasure, the books that enlightened, the difficult moments that broke my heart open, the friends made and the friends lost.

When I look at the blog, I make myself sad with the story that I wished I’d written, and tracked my learning, and marked the big moments that reshape my DNA and re-write the course of my life. And of course, those moments and learning are always best seen in hindsight… in those aha moments of “that’s why that happened!” Or “I had no idea how pivotal that would be!”

But being specific about my stories of what happened in the past is getting in the way of my flow in the present. What I will share about the last year is that life has gifted me many opportunities to better know myself, to see my patterns, to examine my thoughts, to expand my heart, to channel more pleasure through my body, to shine light on my shadows and blind spots, and to continue returning to the truth of the present moment.

What is alive today in my body, is an expansive sense of freedom, a basking in the pleasure of contribution and connection, a tingly anticipation of new possibilities to be discovered, a gratitude for my strong & healthy body, a wonder-filled love for my family, and a delicious appreciation for the magic of my marriage. I also feel a bubbling desire to write about pleasure activism, the power of deserving, the co-mingling of motherhood and loverhood, the role of pleasure in creating a more beautiful world, and so much more.

May this channel for my creative expression remain open and free flowing. May my wonderings flower and bloom beautifully on the screen. May all beings be blessed by this journey.

Photo by Bedlegeuse

Touching Oneself

“To love

is not to reach out,

it is to touch oneself,

and know that one is porous.

And that you are the other,

masquerading in the wary distance.”

– Bayo Akomolafe, Aug 2015

So Much Happiness

“So Much Happiness”

A poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, shared with me by Amber.

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.

With sadness there is something to rub against,

a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.

When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,

something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.

But happiness floats.

It doesn’t need you to hold it down.

It doesn’t need anything.

Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,

and disappears when it wants to.

You are happy either way.

Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house

and now live over a quarry of noise and dust

cannot make you unhappy.

Everything has a life of its own,

it too could wake up filled with possibilities

of coffee cake and ripe peaches,

and love even the floor which needs to be swept,

the soiled linens and scratched records . . .

Since there is no place large enough

to contain so much happiness,

you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you

into everything you touch. You are not responsible.

You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit

for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,

and in that way, be known.

#GoodSexForAll

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Hi! I’m Susie. I’m the part of Kendall that feels really dumb when she compares herself to really smart people. She read an article this weekend in the New York Times Sunday Review called “The Feminist Pursuit of Good Sex.” She wanted to write a really smart analysis and summary and comment on this article and has been thinking about it for days! But the part of her that is all smarty-pants, and wears glasses, and writes like she was in college is in hiding (dried up from lack of use??). So instead not writing anything at all, she said she’d let ME write the post for her! HA!

Ok. Here goes.

So, this article from the Times is really smart. It has lots of big words in it like vanguard, establishmentarians, and misandry. It tells an interesting story about the change in feminist opinions and what they stand for over time as it relates to sex. It sounds like feminists from different eras have different opinions on whether things are good or bad:  like pornography, sex, and twitter.

There’s a lot of history, and where we are today is built on that history. But some things still haven’t changed, like “sexual politics.” The author says, 50 years ago her mom’s generation was dealing with “consensual, yet joyless and unsatisfying sex.”

Now the author’s generation has the #metoo movement. She says this about it:

“It’s a chance to reset the table of sexual politics — not by infantilizing women or declaring a war on flirting or administering litmus tests, but by continuing a decades-long push for true equality in the bedroom, for a world in which women are not intimidated or coerced into sex but are also not stuffed into the role of gatekeepers.”

After this part, the author uses a lot more big words, talks about Harvey and Aziz, and how the feminist movement continues to fail to make sexual politics equal.

At the end, the author makes a call for change! But to be honest, her call for change wasn’t something I could sink my teeth into. It’s a cool quote from her mom, but not what I’d put on a bumper sticker (“Feminism is a vision of active freedom, of fulfilled desires, or it is nothing.”).

What I think she’s trying to say, is that feminism should be rooting for partners having equally good sex.

I know that having good sex requires a few things:

  • Each person being present in the moment
  • Communicating, listening and responding to each other’s likes/wants (and don’t likes/don’t wants)

Sex that has those elements is much more likely to be pleasurable for all bodies involved. Sex that doesn’t have these elements shouldn’t be happening at all, or at least likely won’t be all that “good.”

Maybe the problem is that women have been trying to make this happen all by themselves? Where are the men in all of this (other than being labeled as predators or demons)?

As the author says in the article, quoting someone from 1968: “A free woman needs a free man.” Here’s what I think… let’s let go of all that feminist history and stuff and start a new movement…

And here’s a new hashtag for it: #GoodSexForAll

(Thanks Susie!)