Getting to Know Yourself:
I kind of already knew this... and I’m continuing to learn more and more how living a consent culture and a consent as love culture requires really getting to know yourself well.
The more you know yourself the more you can understand how you want to interact with others. Also, the more you can understand and respect others.
Not what I was expecting.
I was a little afraid at first. I wasn’t sure if I had the emotional capacity for teaching only men that evening and potentially having to navigate hard patriarchal dynamics when men get defensive of their power and how it affects others and women.
Turns out it was a perfect dynamic for spreading consent culture! Starting with the source!
That night I rediscovered my passion for working with men. Shanti and I were blessed with a group whom were deeply invested in working through their male privilege and whom were totally down to engage in hard conversations and boundary pushing exercises to discover consent.
It felt like such a gift! I felt no resistance from these men. In fact, these men were impressively sensitive. I was inspired by the number of dynamic experiences each of them shared as we continued to verbally reflect on the mainly body-oriented exercises that night. I also experienced these men as very passionate about consent- thank God/dess!!
What I re-realized throughout the workshop is that the best way to get men (mainly cis-gendered, strait men) to understand, connect to, and respect other people’s boundaries and desires, is to get them to first understand, connect to, and respect their own boundaries and desires.
This is true for ALL of us.
And I love encouraging this!
It is SO IMPORTANT to understand our own boundaries, limits, and deal breakers. What’s a yes, what’s a no, what’s a hard boundary, and what’s a soft boundary for ourselves. If we don’t even know that for ourselves, how can we even comprehend to respect that in others?
The conditioning goes deep around not having autonomy around our own bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits. It started in childhood, when parents or other grown ups taught us that other people’s needs are more important than our own, sending the message that we don’t own our bodies by telling us to kiss grandma even if we didn’t want to, or telling girls that boys like them if the boys treat the girls meanly (so backwards and confusing!) Imagine how this conditioning affects our grownup life?
We experience how it does all the time.
This is a whole another subject worthy of a more lengthy description. To get a taste into this discussion, check out this article: http://www.upworthy.com/5-everyday-ways-to-teach-your-kids-about-consent
Getting back to the workshop, I was excited to use techniques I’ve learned from Anandha Ray’s shamanic intuitive dance therapy training to help the men go even further into their dance- suggesting how bigger or smaller, faster or slower, upper or lower movements, or even using different parts of their body might make them feel differently- and encouraging them to notice how and if it did.
I also encouraged them to think about if they got into a dancing pattern (doing the same dance or same movement over and over)- and encouraged them to try something new on, and see how that felt.
My intention was to broaden their toolbox for body movement options so they could get even more specific with what movements they liked or didn’t like, have a better understanding of their preferences, and therefore have more ability to understand other people’s preferences. This discovery and skill set can also be transferred over to interacting verbally.
An inquiry I and we continued to encourage them to think about as they were moving their bodies dancing was,
“What are YOU wanting right now?
Are you still following what YOU’RE authentically wanting?
Are you finding yourself being affected by someone else?
Are you feeling pressured to interact with someone?
Is that still what YOU authentically want?
If not, how can you continue to bring yourself back to what you’re authentically wanting?”
We continued this exercise for a while. It was super fulfilling to witness these men willing to dive deeply into their feeling bodies and listen to their authentic desires. Also to discover how much pressure they felt with each other to engage when they didn’t necessarily want to, and then what tools they could use to bring them back to themselves and their authentic desires.
Feeling deeply grateful for their enthusiastic engagement.
In light of that….
Below are some questions that can help you get to know yourself better:
These can be good questions to continue to ask yourself throughout your life- each equinox (4 times a year), every half year, or annually and see what changes and what stays consistent. Our experiences are constantly affecting us, and in light of the fact that we are all consistently changing, I’ve found it fun to continue to identify and embrace the changes within me and re-calibrate my life and the people in it accordingly.
- What are your values?
- What is your life philosophy?
- What do you see as your life’s purpose?
- What kind of qualities do you value?
- What qualities do you most like about yourself?
- What do you feel proud of about yourself?
- How do you like to be in relationship?
- What are your relational values?
- How do YOU like to be valued?
- What is your love language?
- What do you need in your relationship from others?
- What might you like to change about yourself and why?
- How do you hold yourself and others accountable?
- What are your limits physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually?
- What are your boundaries physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually?
- What are your hard boundaries (boundaries that don't change)?
- What are your soft boundaries (boundaries that you’re willing to stretch if you feel comfortable enough)?
- What are your sexual boundaries?
- What are your STI boundaries?
- What are your deal breakers?
I want to acknowledge that there will be times when we don’t know what we want, and hopefully we can respect and hold each other as much as possible until whoever is in question is more clear.
To learn more about how to hold another in a loving way when they don’t know what they want, while also respecting your own boundaries, look soon for my next post titled, “10 Ways to Hold Someone When They Don’t Know What They Want”.