About the author: Leslie Gustafson, LMFT is a Psychotherapist & Sex and Relationship Therapist/Coach of 25 years. Co-Author of the book Amazing Intimacy- Create A Spectacular Marriage In and Out of the Bedroom and FOX Denver’s Sex & Marriage Expert seen regularly on Emmy Award Winning Colorado’s Live Everyday Show. Leslie is on mission to help others create Amazing lives, Relationships and Intimacy and will be Co-Coaching with her husband Doug (also a therapist) “The BIG LOVE Experience” in 2017 for those who want to step up an go after the Relationship of their Dreams! More personally, Leslie is a Mother of two, Grandma of 3, Artist, adventurer and loves great food and wine. www.AuthenticandTrue.com
Being Fully, Uniquely & Powerfully You
I want to talk with you about being fully, uniquely and powerfully yourself. That sounds big, doesn’t it? I know! It Is! And I realize we often don’t sit around reflecting on this kind of topic and ask questions like, “What does it mean to be a powerfully, unique woman who lives fully?” But I want to invite you into this conversation where we will be exploring together what it means to be ALL THAT and even more.
My hope, in writing to you, is that you realize this is not only possible, but it’s critical, and you may have already arrived in your fullness. I believe it could have profound implications for your life. So with your willingness to enter into the conversation… We will be looking at understanding:
Who we are as women
What we need as women
What gets in our way of being our full unique selves, and
How to fight to discover and realize the full potential and giftedness each of us brings into the world!
For the last 25 years (nearly half my life), I have had the privilege of sitting across from women in my private practice. In the counseling office women are their most honest and intimate selves. What a tremendous honor and privilege it has been to be with them. THIS is what I’ve come to know about WHO women are.
And although we all vary in each of these, as you listen to each one, know that most apply to our deepest identity – what it means to be a woman in heart, soul and spirit.
So, here we go.
As Women We Are…
Fierce protectors of those we love
Sometimes agitated with worry, particularly when someone we love is struggling – we lose sleep over it and we get cranky.
Captivating, intriguing, beautifully complex and wicked smart.
Heartbroken. And have experienced if not one, many heart shattering even disillusioning losses that have caused us great, despair.
Wonderfully and deeply erotic – but we can have a hard time tapping into it.
Enlivened by the sensual.
Sometimes or often fearful – usually about not having what we think we need or losing what we have and believe we can’t live without.
Emotional powerhouses, who are resilient beyond belief.
Love beauty and creating it in our own way.
Nurturers extraordinaire – loving, caring, supportive and ready to help. And we love bringing food.
Love our men but get frustrated with them just not getting it.
Gifted in many ways but a bit confused about what those gifts are and how to best make use of them.
Have difficulty saying no and usually feel bad to some degree when we do.
Feel awful when we hurt another’s feelings or when we are harsh and unkind.
We really love when our most important people are happy and are only as happy as our saddest child.
Wring our hands and hearts to some degree when we send our children out in the world – every time
Can be very demanding and controlling when we feel very afraid or get tired of being nice
Big time givers, Guilt Ridden Takers
We can have so much energy we can clean the house in the day or we have none at all
Sometimes we are depressed and unmotivated and need a kick in the butt but only by someone we trust a lot
Beautifully unique – every woman I’ve worked with is truly her own unique tapestry
Many of us have been profoundly hurt as women in our histories
Are still girls at heart who love to play, be silly, have fun and laugh hard – particularly when our kids are not around.
Sometimes very emotionally fragile and able to fall apart at the speed of light
Extraordinary and magnificently designed
We can get burned out, tapped out and doubt whether we can keep on keeping on – but we keep on keeping on
We both love and loathe our vulnerability
Sometimes we get helpless and hopeless and scared and don’t know whether to hide under the covers, get out of town, kick someone or do all three at the same time
Sometimes we make really stellar decisions based on how strongly we feel about something or someone and sometimes really poor ones
We can make something small become really huge in a heartbeat and then feel bad about that later
Kitten soft and lioness fierce
There is no other gender more fascinating than us
We women carry the emotional and Spiritual Lifeblood, of our families, our workplaces, our churches, our homes and the world!
So I want to ask you this, should we not be:
“Deeply cared for,
Nurtured to the full,
Given to in abundance so we can do all we can do and be all we can be?”
I believe from the bottom of my heart that I need this and you need this to be powerful and to be women who are fully alive – who can impact their lives and their world.
So let’s dig in deeper about what we need and how to go about getting it.
As Women, We Need:
Love that comes in a variety of ways
Permission to go beyond other’s expectations and our own limiting ideas about what we should do and be
To know deep in our souls that we are special
To know we aren’t alone and someone absolutely has our backs and would protect us no matter what
To be valued – but if we aren’t, to know we’re still valuable
Appreciation – we don’t depend on it but we sure like having it
Purpose and meaningful work
Movement and strenuous exercise. Not just for our physical health but for our well-being and emotional balance
To be believed in
To be seen, known and heard and still be delighted in.
Seen for who we truly are, not some objectified or minimized version of ourselves
Heard on a daily basis
And in all of this, cherished and treasured.
Freed up in all areas of our lives, including the bedroom. A spiritual source – someone who we can look to that transcends ourselves and who is bigger, greater and all knowing – who will never leave us, abandon us or forsake us. For me that source is Jesus
Not only accept ourselves, but embrace ourselves
To let ourselves “be” without doing one darn thing and not feeling guilty about it
To cry and cry when we need to – even when there seems no rhyme or reason
But in all this, in all the needs we have to be powerful and alive beyond measure, stuff gets in the way. Gets in the way of us being our awesome, powerful selves. To name some:
Women who have never learned to believe in themselves and so carry doubts and fears that limit their potential
Women who are so independent they don’t know how to lean on others
Women who are so dependent they don’t stand on their own two feet
Women who don’t know what they want and need
And women who don’t know how to ask others for what they want and need
Women who have been hurt by past abuse, maybe in childhood or maybe even in their adult relationships and so have lost hope, or can’t get past the pain to start a new day
Women who have never learned how to care for themselves, even though they are wonderful caregivers
Women who can’t say “no” so they say “yes” to everything and get overwhelmed
Women have suffered a loss
Women who have never defined their true purpose or passion in life – could be related to career, but maybe not
Women who feel like there are drowning in caretaking responsibilities.
Women who struggle with their sexuality or want more from it
Women who have never sat around like we are and asked these kinds of questions about the quality of their lives and what they want and need
Women who don’t yet know how truly amazing they are
I don’t know which ones apply to you, but usually each of us is challenged with something or some things that get in the way of being full alive and living abundantly, powerfully and at our best. I know I have been!
And whatever the challenge or challenges are, we need to turn it around. We need to become experts at what we need and how to live fully. We need to discover our energy and we need to create and sustain powerful lives as if our life depends on it – because it does!
And here are some suggestions to help you us do just that:
1. Prioritize and fight for you. Make a “prioritize me” list and begin living it out. We’re so great about caring for others but we need to stop during the day and ask, “What do I need?” What is one thing you can do that is just for you? Let yourself have that and move on it!
2. Cultivate amazing, authentic relationships with other positive women who can help support you – in becoming all you want to be.
3. Allow for pleasure in your life where you find true enjoyment – including sex.
4. If you don’t know your purpose, work on finding out what it is.
5. Purposely notice the good you do every day and affirm yourself for it.
6. Have time for peace and quiet where you contemplate, reflect and meditate and pray for good things – so that you’re centered and anchored in solid truth.
7. Whatever wounds you carry and the negative, limiting beliefs that flow out of these – fight these, get the help you need and don’t let them win. Find ways to work through them so they don’t haunt your life and keep you stuck. You have to first believe in yourself (or at first act as if you do) before real growth and change happen.
As women, we have the potential to live out powerful lives. You have a powerful life within you – one you may be experiencing to the full right now or one that needs polishing, like getting silverware out of the hutch and preparing it for an amazing dinner.
And you can be at the head of the table. Exquisite and shining bright – because you’ve: Realized who you are
What you need to be full and grow
and How to fight for you, so you can honor the uniqueness you bring into this life and live it out!
Challenges or circumstances don’t have to stop you from living Brilliantly, Courageously, Lusciously and Being Fully, Uniquely and Powerfully You!!
Let me leave you with this quote from Marianne Williamson:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we give others permission to do the same.