Recently, my husband and I went on vacation to Las Vegas. And while there, I decided to treat myself to several spa visits over the course of several days during our stay. What’s great about going to a spa is that for each day that you are having a treatment, you also get to use the spa facilities for the entire day: steam room, sauna, jacuzzis, plunge pool, gym. In theory, this sounds awesome. The reality, for me, was less so.
After realizing I didn’t have a bathing suit I was cheerfully informed by the staff that it was clothing optional in this women’s only spa. After I regained consciousness, I entertained the thought of walking unclothed in a spa in the company of other women for a nanosecond. I then prevailed upon my husband to drive me to no less than 5 stores before I found a bathing suit at Macy’s. Whew! Disaster averted.
I scheduled my visits first thing in the morning and it was great. Not many guests around at 8:00 am.
But, there was a part of me that couldn’t enjoy the experience. During the treatments, I kept thinking, “Oh, I’m fat. She (esthetician) must be disgusted. She probably cannot wait to be done.” And on and on went the endless litany of negative self talk. Suffice it to say, my treatments were not as pampering or enjoyable as they could have been.
I thought, ok, it’s early, so it’s safe to go into the steam room, sauna and jacuzzis. And it was. I turned my mind off and drifted into a peaceful contentment. But it was short lived.
As soon as I spied another woman, I frantically grabbed for a towel to cover myself as I walked to the jacuzzi, only feeling safe after I had entered the warm water and was partly hidden by the bubbles. Ah, safety. But then came along two other women and they were going to get into the jacuzzi, too! As I looked in horror at these two slim women I began to feel ashamed again. And the litany of negative criticisms in my mind began again. I sat there, like a deer caught in headlights. I was terrified. What do I do? I can’t leave, they will see me in all my pudginess. But if I stay, more will come and it will be misery squared.
I felt such anguish and all the peacefulness I had enjoyed vanished. I wanted to cry.
Then, something came over me and I heard my higher self say internally, “Tracy, get up and walk out, stand at the top of the steps and towel yourself dry. Do not rush.”
I listened. And as I towelled myself dry, out in the open with other women around, I realized something.
No one was watching me. No one was pointing or snickering or looking at me in disgust. No one was paying any attention to me whatsoever.
I put on my robe and went about my business showering, dressing, and still not one person looked at me funny or glared at me.
And then it hit me.
The truth of it was that the only one judging me, was me. Finding fault, criticizing, belittling. Those thoughts were my thoughts and mine alone.
I barely enjoyed my treatments and spa time because of my own internal, negative dialogue. Telling myself that other people are thinking this or that was my way of not allowing pleasure into my life.
Pleasure in nurturing and caring for myself. Pleasure in allowing myself to be pampered.
I sat and journaled and went really deep to understand why I would deny myself these luxurious experiences and the answer was that a part of me feels undeserving and unworthy. A part of me will only allow me to enjoy so much, before the mechanism kicks in that says, “oh no, that’s enough joy and pleasure for you, my dear!” And back down I go, to the amount of joy and pleasure that feels “safe.” That feels “allowable.”
These feelings and self imposed limitations are going to require more introspection in the days and weeks to come. I am determined to get to the root of it once and for all. But, my intention with this article was to inspire you to go within and ask yourself what negative self talk are you allowing yourself to listen to? Where in your life are you denying or limiting the amount of joy and pleasure you can experience, and why? What is the root cause of it?
Because, one thing I am sure of is a life without pleasure is an unhappy, miserable existence. And living without it is not why we were created.
Pleasure, joy, self love is our birthright and it is time that we allowed ourselves to welcome it into our daily lives. Not in a selfish, it’s all about me way, but in a way that fulfills us and allows us to be able to give back to our families, loved ones, friends, pets.
Life without pleasure is barren and cold.
Take time for yourself. Add in small doses regularly to increase your threshhold of how much pleasure you will allow into your life. Start with a bubble bath once a week. Or perhaps a walk in nature is what nurtures you. Maybe painting brings you joy. Whatever it is, do it and do it consistently, thereby increasing your capacity for joy and pleasure.
It is important to take time for you. You are important. You matter.