How accept-able are you? How well are you able to accept?
If you were offered the chance to receive exactly the touch you truly wanted, right now – the kind of touch that would make you go ‘hell, yeahhh! That’s fabulous!” – would you feel confident about what to ask for?
It sounds like a pretty easy question. But when it comes down to it it’s one that a lot of us might actually find pretty tricky to answer honestly.
Should I ask for something I think the other person will be comfortable with? What if they think what I ask for is stupid? What if they say no to my request? What if they say yes, and then I end up actually getting what I want? Do I even know what I want?? It can all feel like a bit of a Pandora’s (gift) box!
Being offered something we truly want for ourselves should be a gift. The trouble is we’ve become used to many of the gifts we’re given coming with strings attached (read more about when Serving isn’t serving). When was the last time someone gave you exactly what you asked for – no expectations, no bells and whistles, no ‘helpful’ additions, no opinions… just what you asked for: nothing more and nothing less?
We’ve learned to hedge our bets when it comes to being asked what we want. To protect ourselves from being vulnerable. But that means we often don’t end up with what we truly want.
Accepting something without having to give something in return can also feel like we’re being selfish. But in fact it’s probably one of the best ways to achieve a feeling of self-worth and self-acceptance.
Getting the chance to spend time receiving a gift that is for us alone, having someone else put their desire aside and attend to ours, can be immensely healing.
Of course it’s not possible for us to get what we want all of the time, and we need to be respectful of the boundaries and limits of the person offering us the gift. But when you spend time in the Accepting quadrant of the Wheel of Consent tool (LINK) you can begin to notice there are things you want, and to trust them, value them, communicate them, and act on them.
In short, you can learn that what you want matters.
How to do it
Exploring the Accepting quadrant in the Wheel Of Consent tool can feel pretty challenging, and it can often take us a while to even begin to figure out what we genuinely want for ourselves – as opposed to what we think we’re supposed to want, or what someone else wants us to want – let alone feel able to ask for it.
The only way to really figure out what you want is to wait.
Give yourself time.
Even though it might not feel like it, somewhere inside you will know exactly what you want. But it can take time to reach the surface, and there are many learned cultural and behavioural obstacles that can get in the way.
Here’s a great exercise or practice to give you the space to experience noticing what you want, trusting what you want, and getting exactly what you want. The short timescales of touch help keep it as safe as possible, and prevent either person from slipping into unconscious patterns.
The ‘Bossy’ Massage
Find a partner or a friend who’s willing to put aside their own desires for a while, and give you this gift. The key thing for you both to remember is that this should be about your experience, not theirs.
1. Get comfortable however you want, and remember you can change how that is whenever you want. This experience is for you so make sure you’re always in a position which feels good.
2. Spend some time feeling into your body how you would like the other person to touch you. Don’t ask for touch unless you’re really sure you want it. Sometimes it can take a while to reach this point, and it’s perfectly fine for there to be no touch.
3. Ask the other person to give you the touch you would like in that moment. Use clear questions like ‘will you (stroke my hair)?’, or ‘would you (rub my feet)?’, rather than weaker questions such as ‘is it OK if you (put your hand on my stomach)?’ or ‘I think I’d like (you to hug me)’
Trust them to take care of their own limits or boundaries, and trust that they will let you know if they’re not comfortable doing something you’ve asked for.
4. Make your requests as detailed as possible – they won’t do anything you haven’t specifically asked for (and if they do you can ask them to stop the touch, or correct them). And if you don’t ask for anything they won’t touch you.
5. They will touch you exactly how you’ve asked for 5 – 10 seconds, before taking their hands off and waiting quietly for your next request.
6. Repeat the process for as long as you have agreed to play together – it’s usually good to allow at least 20 minutes so you have plenty of time to sink into the experience and not feel rushed. Up to 45 minutes is ideal.
You can ask them to stop the touch at any point, even if the allotted time is not up yet. If you would like to change or modify the touch you’ve asked for, ask them to take their hands off your body while you make the request so that you can both be clear about the change before it happens.
The important thing is not so much what you’re doing, but more what you’re noticing during the choosing process. Sometimes, from the outside, it may look like nothing is happening, but you will almost certainly be noticing things internally.
Notice if you experience any of these things:
- asking for something just for the sake of getting something to happen
- wishing they would just do whatever they want
- resistance, shame or fear to ask for what you really want
- not being able to notice anything you want
- not trusting or valuing what your body is telling you
- enduring touch when you’d prefer it to stop.
And finally… be gentle with yourself! Sometimes it can be an emotional experience; sometimes it can feel challenging to ask for any touch at all. It’s all OK. This is not about pushing yourself, it’s about noticing what you notice, and getting what you really want.
Accepting is one of the 4 quadrants of the Wheel Of Consent. This is a simple, powerful tool which can help you navigate safe, consenting exchanges – essential for both intimacy and life. Learn more about it works.
We are all born with the instinct to breathe, to move, and to make sound.
We are all born into a body, with a mind of our own, and a unique spirit.
Our ability to touch and be touched, both physically and emotionally, is what weaves all these parts of us together.
If you’d like to learn more tools to listen to, understand and communicate what your body needs, contact me