Individuation is a Pre-requisite for Pleasure

May 19, 2015

Individuation is a Pre-requisite for Pleasure

Category | Choosing Pleasure,

Ten days ago I ran a workshop on pleasure and what gets in the way of it. Often we get in our own way when trying to increase the pleasure we have. Self-sabotaging pleasure comes from the doubts and misconceptions we hold about pleasure. Sometimes this is referred to as having a ‘limiting belief’. 

The beliefs you hold dear contribute to what happens in your life. What you give your attention to directly affects what winds up growing in your life. So some questions to ask yourself include: Do you believe in the benevolent power of pleasure? Could you open your mind and body to it? Do you make choices that nurture pleasure in your life?

I love doing workshops because I learn so much about this awesome topic of pleasure. One really important point came up when a participant shared her story: “Two years ago I quit my cushy, secure, but creatively stifling job and since that time I’ve been following what I really enjoy. Today, I can honestly say “I love my life!” She did get some push back from family and friends about the big change, as in “Hey, you can’t just do that.”  But apparently she could and did.

She suggested, probably correctly, that many of these naysayers were jealous or felt seriously challenged to look at their own lives and the choices they were making. So the important lesson here is that to have pleasure, you have to be true to yourself, or ‘individuate’. 

Individuation is a psychological term that means “the process by which an individual becomes distinct.” Individuating distinguishes you from others – becoming your own person may make you quite different from your family or social group, and having your own beliefs and ideals might make you stand out from the crowd. Individuating is a life-long process involving all the choices that make you uniquely you.

You have to develop the capacity to tolerate differences and feel okay about that. Otherwise you are held captive to “group think”. It seems that our society still holds some pretty negative beliefs about pleasure – as in, it’s selfish, indulgent, and is only worth considering after all the important things of daily life are dealt with. 

So you can see how individuation, like pleasure, must become a practice. You need to listen to what’s really important to you, and to make choices accordingly. You may get push back, but I’d suggest that the less confident you are about your choices, the more flack you’ll feel from outside, and, conversely, the more you can easily tolerate the lack of approval you feel from people, the less flack you’ll receive.

My workshop participant said that as time passes and people see her life blossoming, she receives much less negative commentary. Her world didn’t come to an end, nothing bad happened to her, as was projected by her community; quite the reverse, her life is rich and rewarding. Her story was a great inspiration to us all. 

So…  what choices are you making that support a movement towards a life that’s beautiful and rich, with ease and flow, and full of the things that are vitally important to YOU? 

Next entry: Pleasure in Connecting in Nature

Previous entry: Pleasure can open your deeper and often truer nature – start with your body!

“Madeline offers a safe space to explore what it is that blocks our capacity to live in pleasure. She supports us to recognize our unhealthy associations with pleasure, so we can finally open up to that which provides real power, serenity and love.”

Benoît Cazabon, author, professor, and coach