Charon Normand-Widmer LMSW
How much pleasure do you allow yourself in a day? A luxurious morning stretch before getting out of bed? Your fave tea or coffee in the am? Long shower? Putting your feet in the grass and looking at the sky before beginning your work day? A walk? Yoga? A workout? Stopping to gaze at a blooming flower or butterfly? Feeling the wind on your face? Beautiful intimacy with a loved one? Deep conversation? Sharing a joke or meme with a friend? Self-pleasure? A delicious meal? A meditation? A song? A daydream? A nap? A sweet treat? A massage? A rest? Is there a limit to how much pleasure we can allow ourselves in a day? A resounding NO. When you care for yourself with love and gratitude, you fill your energetic cup, allowing you to show up for others fully. They deserve the best you available; do them and yourself a service by slowing down and savoring the life that is yours. You only live once.
Many of us resist the idea of regularly checking in with our current level of happiness. Some of this hesitancy results from social conditioning; we may have been taught that it is a selfish conceit to prioritize our happiness over others. Another reason is that our nervous systems are wired for negativity. This is a survival mechanism- where the brain searches for safety cues four times a second!
Because of neuroplasticity, we can buffer the default mode of the brain. How? Through gratitude. Think about the most recent time you felt grateful for a thing: a gift, a phone call, a yummy meal, a good night’s rest. Now, locate that feeling in your body. For starters, it may be a warm glow around your eyes or mouth or a tingly feeling in your chest. Lean into this sensation and let it spread around your body, breathing deeply. How does this feel?
Simple practices like these calm the nervous system while stretching our capacity to tolerate unpleasant feelings such as fear and anxiety.
Such self-soothing techniques bring us back into our window of tolerance, which is the parasympathetic portion of our nervous system, the part that allows us to ‘rest and digest. From here, we are better equipped to be fully present for both ourselves and others.
I challenge you to expand your daily capacity for pleasure. While waking up from a good rest, notice how your body feels rested and feel gratitude for that one moment. Luxuriate in your shower, enjoying the water caressing your body. Be present in intimate moments, setting aside phones and lists, softening into the eyes of a loved one, noticing their breathing and yours. When you play your favorite song, please take a moment to sing or dance to it, being present with the feelings the music evokes in you. Savor that cookie or treat, chewing a little bit slower than usual and noticing the smell of the treat while eating it. Relish the wind on your face and smile with gratitude at this simple pleasure.
Charon Normand-Widmer LMSW
Charon is a functional nutrition coach. Psychotherapist, Somatic Therapist, Sex Therapist, Trauma Specialist. She obtained her master’s in social work from Wayne State and completed a fellowship at the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute. She is a member of the American Academy of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) and is certified in child and adolescent psychodynamic therapy and sensorimotor psychotherapy for trauma. You can reach her at 248 955 3108 https://www.instagram.com/charon_normandwidmer