Objectification

This article from Mirror of Intimacy by Alexandra Katehakis & Tom Bliss wonderfully explains how objectification may be helpful and harmful not only with our lover but with strangers on the streets, service industries professionals and the like.  picture depicting objectification

“Being objectified gave me a certain sense of humility, and made me feel ignored and unnoticed. At the same time, it made me aware of how and when I do this to others. Sometimes I do it to my friends, when I call them for the express purpose of talking about myself. I almost always do it to customer service reps. And I often objectify barristas: you are just something that happens between me and my latte.”  ~ Melanie Curtin

An object is a thing, usually made of material that can be seen and touched. But an object can also be a person we direct feelings towards. Thus, the one we love can be our “love object” in the most literal sense of the word. But when we target a person as an item of our physical desire–a sexual object to be had–we’ve reduced him or her to a thing to be used for our gain. We all recognize this type of objectification as cold and calculating, serving our carnal needs without any regard for the other. But we often ignore that when we become habituated to this pattern of sexuality we have, ironically, made ourselves into objects, and will find ourselves being used sexually or otherwise, and discarded afterward. Over time, such sexual encounters bring despair to both parties.

In contrast, when love and attachment inspire objectification, being the love object can be exciting and fun. All too often people feel offended by being objectified in any way. But when we comfortably embody our sexuality, objectification by our lover feels like a compliment. To achieve that experience, we must leave any shame about our body or sexuality out of the bedroom. Confidence, self-knowledge, and an appreciation of our sexiness and beauty let us view, and give, our self as a love object in a healthy way.

Receiving adoration for our corporeal body requires a high level of self-love. Typically we associate using one’s body seductively as a power trip. But when we transform our energy into genuine, relationship-based power we experience our self differently, as an admirer–like our lover–of the body we were given at birth, the body that transports us through life, the body that is the altar of sexual pleasure and delight.

Questions to further assess your personal view on how you may or may not objectify others. 

  1. What does it feel like to be objectified?
  2. Where do you feel your emotions in your body?
  3. When have you noticed objectifying someone else?  What was that experience like for you?
  4. Describe in detail beliefs you have around objectification and where their origin.  How have those beliefs helped or hindered your relationships?

The questions below address possible issues with your body and your lover’s body.

  1. In what healthy ways do you objectify your lover?
  2. When you look at your lover’s body, what do you see? What do you tell him or her about the effects his or her body has on you?
    In what healthy ways do you objectify yourself?
  3. How do you adorn and prepare yourself for sex?
  4. How much effort do you put into cultivating your consciousness and your appearance for yourself, and how much do you do it for your partner?

FORGIVENESS

april wright therapy forgiveness

“The act of forgiveness is the act of returning to present time.”  ~ Caroline Myss

Like almost everything else, forgiveness begins at home. Self-forgiveness is a form of self-compassion, and without it, we flog ourselves for every little wrongdoing. In addition, we come to treat others the way we treat ourselves. Listen to your judgments of others, and remind yourself that you’re actually projecting your judgments of yourself onto them, probably unconsciously operating the way you were programmed in your family of origin. Everyone makes mistakes all day long. Own yours! Apologize when you can, then start over with a greater understanding of what you did wrong. When you begin to forgive yourself for your imperfections, you begin to change positively from the inside out. And when that happens, forgiveness naturally flows outward to others.

But forgiveness for ourselves–or from another–is not a natural process. It’s not something either “should” do; it happens when we are ready. Like in any dynamic development, glimmers of forgiveness may emerge unexpectedly, then, just as suddenly, recede. Stay open but keep moving forward. If you’ve hurt another, move forward with forgiveness.  If it’s not received well, don’t compound it with impatience. Let the other come towards you when she or he is ready. Meanwhile, give yourself permission to forgive your past mistakes. Remember, forgiveness doesn’t happen all at once–it comes in stages and may never feel complete.

Forgive only when your heart tells you it’s the right time. Forgiving prematurely can hurt you further because forgiving too soon denies the truth. You are on your own timetable. Take your time and stay present. Just remember that waiting too long, holding onto anger, can be toxic to your body, mind, and spirituality.  Holding tightly creates resentment that keeps you sick and stuck. Suffering doesn’t make you a better person. In fact, it demonstrates self destructive behavior.  Treat yourself with kindness and it will prelude to others. Obsessing over the past won’t heal your heartbreak, but forgiveness of yourself and others can restore you both.

Taken from Mirror of Intimacy:  Daily Reflections on Emotional and Erotic Intelligence

Aging with Grace

“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” ~ Robert Frost

From the Mirror of Intimacy

Portrait of a beautiful senior womanAs time marches on, the accumulation of our experiences etch themselves on our bodies, minds, and souls. The physical body slowly but surely begins to lose its shape and form, while the wisdom of the soul expands and outshines what once was. How many times have you met an elder, perhaps in another culture, whose eyes radiated grandeur, beauty, and a life well lived that rocked you to your core? The weight of responsibility in life can sometimes feel crushing but, to judge from such elders, “What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.” The process of enduring, learning, and growing ultimately leads to a lightness of being. Often those same elders have a mischievous gleam in their eyes, an almost childlike quality that reflects back to us the look of freedom and peace.

But aging with grace and dignity is no easy feat as our consumer culture consistently bombards us with messages glorifying eternal youth. Youth, however, is a state of mind and heart, grounded in happiness and gratitude and born out of a willingness to embrace our age and celebrate the privilege of growing older. Notice how much more experience you have today than yesterday, and how your changing face and body reflect your wisdom. Embrace all of who you are and let the lightness of yourbeing radiate forth to all those you meet.

Bring Awareness to the Body and Settle the Mind

Take an inventory of your entire body starting with your feet and going up to the top of your head. Notice the changes in the shapes, forms, and texture of your skin and hair.
Make peace with nature’s way, and remind yourself of the wonder and awe of being alive on this day.

Can We Be Overly Responsible?

ResponsibilityResponsibility means being accountable for your own actions.  However, responsibility can turn ugly when we overly concern ourselves with others. We can often believe we are in charge of everyone else and that we caused their reaction. In the learned process, we don’t learn to focus on ourselves.  In fact, many times it’s so much easier to criticize, blame, or harbor others than it is to ourselves.  Placing attention outward instead of inward can be a convenient distraction from our own pain and sorrow.

Growing-up many of us were the overly responsible in our families. We learned that it was our job to control others, whether actively or passive aggressively. Our goal was to prevent Dad’s anger or Mom’s depression, and then maybe there would be some peace.  Even though, we failed time and again, what seemed like small successes “proved” that it was possible and kept us going. We told ourselves that yes, we could control the dysfunction.

As adults, when we took on too much responsibility for others we were often eventually met with resentment and anger. Who were we to be telling others what to do and think? As a result, we may have lost important relationships and even our livelihoods.

The most important thing we can do is take responsibility for ourselves first. Looking at our behavior can be difficult because our preoccupation with others may have left us with little sense of who we are. But with time, the help of a therapist and support from a safe group and healthy friendships, we see that this is the path to peace we were always after.

A helpful reminder can be to remember that you are not responsible for the thoughts and behaviors of others, you are only responsible for yourself.