When we drop "shoulds" we can be real with ourselves and others.

Marcia Baczynski, who has been on the Queer Body Love Speaker Series the last couple of years and works with people on intimacy, boundaries, communication and recovering from the "Good Girl" archetype, wrote a lil ditty on Facebook yesterday that feels SO TRUE.

The secret to intimacy is the willingness to say, and hear, No.

And this includes the willingness to hear your own internal no. And then communicate that. Which can be quite the muscle to build up when you're used to automatically saying yes based on what you think others want you to do!

I have a little story from this morning which illustrates navigating listening to your internal "no" and then receiving support to continue to follow it.

I had plans to go cowork with a friend this morning at her place. She texted me as I was headed over that she was "depressed and sleepy." Super happy to be walking in the sunshine, I told her "go outside!" to which she responded "no".

So clear! Got it!

When I got there, she answered the door in her pajamas and told me in a whiny voice that she was in bed playing candy crush. She had internal clarity that she didn't want to work, and at the same time was judging herself for not feeling like it.

I went and snuggled up with her on her bed in her dark room.

As clear as she felt in her no to me with the specific suggestion of sunshine, she was struggling in resisting listening to her NO that she didn't actually want to do much today, and then trying to force herself to motivate herself to do more was creating overwhelm and tension.

Ooh boy do I know that story.

I reflected back to her the power of her no by sharing an analogy I found in this amazing blog post that I've found incredibly useful.

Imagine that it's snowing outside. If you put on a bikini and try to "soak up the sun", you're going to have a pretty miserable time. Now, if you snuggle up inside and drink some hot cocoa, it might be pretty divine.

Imagine your internal weather in that same way.

When you're feeling that strong internal NO, how about you listen to it?

Now, there may be certain things that really would be helpful to do... and, I know when I'm in that state I put extra pressure on myself to do all the things, instead of trying to focus on the bare minimum that I must do.

Instead of following the made-up story that suddenly EVERYTHING MUST BE DONE ALL AT ONCE, fueled by the war between the internal no and your resistance to listening to that no, focus on what you can drop and what actually really truly needs to happen.

For example, my friend needed to go present at a workshop. She didn't want to do that. And at the same time she felt like she "had to do all the things all at once," even though she felt like doing none of it.

I suggested -- what if going to the workshop was really the only thing you did today? For the next hour before you go, let it really be just your time to do whatever you want. When you get home, check in with where you are and act accordingly. Take off your pressure of what you thought you "should" do today, and dress appropriately for the weather, to use the previous analogy.

I helped her listen to her no.

I know that I feel the most stress and create my own overwhelm when part of me knows what would serve me, but I disregard that, trying to do what my mind WANTS to be reality.

In other words, I am currently practicing listening to my internal no more often and more easily.

Yesterday, I hit a wall at 5 pm in terms of work. But, but, but... I hadn't finished my newsletter! I hadn't edited some web pages that I had meant to! I hadn't sent that email! I had a headache and everything in my body was screaming that I was done.

I tried to work through it anyway. Needless to say, I wasn't that efficient, and ended up feeling even more tired.

Hm. Noticing. Okay, so next time (actually, like right now!), listen!

When we listen to our nos and can communicate them to ourselves and others, we can soften into much more loving intimacy. We can be in so much more flow with our world.

And with that... I'm off for a run!

This is one entry in the November Queer Body Love daily blog writing, where I will be exploring through writing what I see, think, pray, and question. I don’t know what liberation looks like, but I want that for you, and for us. This blog is me sharing a personal practice of being with the question of what that might look like in the hopes that it might be useful. If you're interested in personal support from me as your guide as you explore that in your own body and life, check out my newest 1-on-1 offering, SOFTEN. I can sit with you with so much love and compassion as you orient in the direction of more ease and comfort in your body and with yourself. Together we'll take a stand for new possibilities.