Living by Your Own Rules

This newsletter was written by Steve Pavlina, sent on January 3, 2010. It’s re-published here for achival purposes, with permission.

At the start of each year, I like to choose my primary focus for the upcoming year. Last week I shared my intentions for 2010 in a new blog post. Most of the feedback I’ve received thus far, although overwhelmingly positive, suggests that people were quite surprised. The big surprise wasn’t necessarily about my specific choice of direction; the real surprise had to do with my willingness to blog about it publicly.

Despite being lauded for my courage, in a way this reaction saddens me. In truth what I shared is something quite popular that millions of people enjoy. And yet many still consider it taboo to talk about it publicly. Why? Who says so? Who made up such silly rules?

It’s unfortunate that we feel the need to hide so much of our true selves from the world, isn’t it? We conceal common elements of our everyday lives from a misplaced sense of shame or guilt — or a fear of being harshly judged or rejected by others.

How much of your mental energy is wasted on hiding and pretending? Do you have to pretend you aren’t attracted to the people you’re most attracted to? Do you have to pretend you never masturbate — or look at online porn? Do you have to pretend you like your job when you’d rather be doing something else? Just how socially repressed are you? What are you unable to talk about openly? What would cause you to feel embarrassed if someone ratted you out? What secret information could someone use to blackmail you?

I’m not a proponent of radical honesty — sometimes excessive honesty can be used in a very harsh and cruel way and does more harm than good — but I do feel it’s rather silly for us to keep holding back our inner truth out of a misplaced loyalty to what the rest of the world expects of us. That isn’t a very conscious way to live.

Where do those external expectations exist anyway? They aren’t somewhere “out there.” They exist within us. Those thoughts and feelings are ours, not someone else’s. They’re our own limits, not society’s. When we validate such limits, we give our power away to them and turn them into something real. And yet they remain nothing but illusions without substance.

During the past year, I took some major steps forward in terms of dumping silly notions of what I can and can’t say or do, particularly when it comes to communicating with others. I started being open and honest in ways I’d never done before. Initially I feared I’d be subjected to considerable rejection, but I simply accepted that as consequence I’d have to deal with. I figured my self-esteem was high enough that I could take it. In the end my curiosity was significantly greater than my fears and worries.

To kick things off, I very directly told a woman that I was attracted to that I liked her a lot and wanted to explore a deeper connection with her, both emotionally and physically. On another occasion I got into a conversation with a woman about sexual domination and submission, and I invited her to “play together” next time she’s in town.

I wasn’t hesitant or afraid when I said these things. I simply put myself in a place of accepting whatever response I received. It felt exhilarating to communicate with such freedom and openness, simply sharing what was on my mind. And an interesting thing happened. I never got rejected. The answer always came back as a yes — a strong yes in fact.

I thought to myself… all this time I’ve been holding back on voicing certain desires, based on the erroneous assumption that such communication was too aggressive or too socially unacceptable, but all I was doing was denying myself all those yeses.

Since then I’ve been a bit like a kid in a candy store. Suffice it to say that I’m enjoying some most delicious experiences these days. 🙂

The part that really gets me is just how simple and easy this is. It may take courage, but it certainly doesn’t take much brainpower. All you have to do is get clear about what you want and ask for it directly. I’ve long been a fan of direct communication — there’s a section on directness in my book — but I didn’t realize just how far I could take it without hitting some kind of wall where rejection was imminent. If there is a wall, I don’t seem to have hit it yet. I’m beginning to suspect it doesn’t really exist.

I’ve mostly been pushing forward in the area of sexual communication because that’s where I’ve felt the most repressed till now. It was an area where I still had a lot of work to do. About a week ago, I told a woman that one of my sexual fantasies was to enjoy a certain type of threesome experience. She was turned on by the idea and offered to help make it a reality. Instantly I went from 1/3 of a threesome to 2/3, a rather significant improvement. Several days later, I asked another woman if she’d help us complete the triangle. Another yes. Well that was easy! And to think that all this time, all I had to do to manifest this fantasy in physical form was to directly and shamelessly ask two women that I already knew, and it only took minutes. Seems a bit obvious in retrospect, doesn’t it?

I can’t say I’ll never get rejected using this approach. It’s bound to happen eventually for one reason or another. But I’m past the point of worrying about that. And ironically, it’s because I don’t care if I get rejected that a positive response is more likely. I recognize that there are always more options and opportunities available, so I don’t approach any situation with a sense of neediness. I’m fully willing to accept a no and move on without feeling dejected.

Imagine a poker player saying, “I absolutely must win this hand!” That player isn’t likely to play very well. S/he can only control so many factors but not necessarily who wins that particular pot. When a hand goes south, the best that player can do is wait for a better spot. There will be plenty more hands, many of them far superior the one that didn’t work out.

Now I fully understand if you dislike what I’m getting into in my personal life this year. I’m not asking you to like it since your personal values may be very different from mine. My life is mine to manage as I see fit, and what you think of me personally is truly none of my business anyway. So I ask that you take from my experiences what lessons you can reasonably apply to your own life, and forget the rest. Use the ideas I’ve shared here to help you get what YOU want.

Where have you been holding back? What special fantasy would you like to experience? What’s the fastest possible way you could manifest it? Why not apply the dirt simple approach of communicating your desires openly and asking for what you want from someone who can help make it happen?

Do you want to take your desires to your grave with you, or would you like to experience them now? Is it possible that the yes you seek is only minutes away?

If life rewarded timidity and cowardice, we’d all be kings and queens.

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