I have a confession: I don’t like having to ask for what I want.
In my ideal world, I would always be offered the absolute perfect thing, and all I would need to do is enjoy.
I’ve learned since that while it’s a very lovely hope, it leaves getting what I need and want up to chance.
Attending cuddle workshops has taught me that I have permission want something specific, and that it’s my job to ask for it. It’s been incredibly challenging and life-changing at the same time.
Here are a few things that I’ve learned in my journey:
1. There’s no right or wrong way to enjoy something
We live with a lot of cultural programming around “should”s when it comes to pleasure. We’re taught to believe that there are certain things that should be enjoyed — and if we don’t, something is wrong with us. This is simply not true and can be a deterrent to finding the things we truly find joy in.
Giving yourself permission to love what you love, and dislike what you don’t is the first step in being empowered to creating those magic moment of bliss. Once you learn to accept your own authority over your experience, you’ll learn to trust your body more, and really tune into what it is that you actually want or don’t want.
2. You are your best advocate
You are the ultimate expert on your own body. Nobody else can ever experience what it’s like to be in your skin. Because of that, you are the most well poised to speak up for what it is that you need and want.
This isn’t always easy. At cuddle events, or anytime I’m receiving touch, I’ve noticed that self-judgement comes up for me when I make specific requests. The more instruction I give, the more I feel shame bubble up. It can feel to me like I’m being too bossy, particular, or ungrateful.
I’m learning to sit with that feeling, and to release it. I’m learning that being selfish can be a virtue and not a vice. Instead of self-criticism, I focus on holding gratitude for my ability to take care of myself.
The result of this practice, is finding so many more places where I can find enjoyment. I’m finding, too, that being specific is a gift to the person who is giving to me. I’m giving them the opportunity to give me something that I’ll genuinely enjoy. It’s a much more authentic way to receive.
4. Learn what you enjoy, and how to communicate it
If you haven’t figured out what you enjoy yet, give yourself ample time to explore. Start with something general, and you can narrow it down as you go. Let’s say you’ve learned that you like back scratches. Compare the request “Would you scratch my back” with “Would you scratch my upper back in circles, very lightly and slowly?”
The latter sets your giver up for a better likelihood of succeeding.
Next, it’s up to us to continue to guide the touch towards our “Hell yes”. You can make specific requests about the location, pressure, direction, length or speed of the touch you’re receiving. Here are a few examples:
Pressure: “Could you go just a tad lighter? Mmm, thank you.”
Location: “Just a little to the left, please – ooh that’s it!”
Speed: “Would you try going even slower than that? That’s perfect!”
Finding language for what it is that we would ultimately enjoy is key to being able to communicate and advocate for ourselves.
4. Believe that you can get exactly what you want
I used to think I disliked massages. That is, until I learned it that it was only because they were too deep for me, and were causing me pain. I genuinely thought that’s what massages were: pain that you tolerated that might lead to relaxation afterwards.
Once I figured out that it didn’t have to be painful, a whole new world opened up for me. I now was allowed ask for exactly the kind of experience I was hoping for.
Just like me, so many of us endure lackluster touch simply because we don’t know that there are other options. Once we realize that bliss is possible, we raise the bar for ourselves, and truly become empowered to make it happen.