Ask the Therapist 

Question: “I have a beautiful life and everything I could want, yet I am not fulfilled. It seems like something is missing. Often, at the end of the day, I feel empty and depressed, dreading the next day. How can I be more grateful for my life?”

Dear Reader, 

Thank you for your depth of vulnerability and transparency in sharing this question. You are not alone in this experience. Unfortunately, I believe if people are conscious of their own experience, we would find that this is not uncommon at all. We live in a culture that is driven by industry and productivity. This has evolved so much that our whole worldview and sense of self is based upon capital rather than care. Quantity is often valued over quality, in all aspects of our lives. Notice where this may exist in your life currently. 

It is perfectly ok to prioritize money and assets. Beauty, grandeur, and luxury are fun ways we get to experience life. I am holding a paradox here in that it isn’t so much about right or wrong in how you are living your life, but taking this as an opportunity to slow down and reflect on what is giving you life. Notice what in your life seems to be draining you of your life force and what in your life seems to nourish it. 

It is ingrained in our subconscious from childhood, since we are immersed in this culture, to understand that what we should want is a family with a white picket fence, a three-car garage, lots of money in the bank, and traveling on vacation while working endlessly to buy our kids the latest technology, clothes, and toys. If we have a lot of things, surely our life is abundant. And yes, perhaps it is. But we want to examine if having all of those things is really what brings us the most joy. Or is this consumption a hungry ghost birthed from our conditioning that has led us toward this moment now where we find ourselves mid-life and going – “I have arrived at where I thought was the destination that was to bring me happiness, but what I am finding is it isn’t that fulfilling at all.”

This is a beautiful evolutionary moment. There is nothing wrong here and not to shame oneself for the experience of this dead-end moment. It’s a real opportunity, developmentally on point, by the way, that will give you the motivation to re-imagine and recreate your standards for joy, pleasure, and ease. Now is the time you get to confront yourself, get curious, and create the life that your soul truly desires. It may not mean that a lot of your life changes, by the way. It could just mean that what you prioritize investing your time, attention, and energy into shifts. It could also mean big life changes – like a job change, relationship growth, perhaps you reinvent yourself through hobbies, and slowing down to really savor what is already here. 

The work that I do is mostly helping people reclaim an erotic life. Initially, people think of sex when they see that word, but EROS is much more than just what happens in the bedroom. It is a way of life and a pathway towards learning how to connect with your life force through knowing intimately our body’s yes and no’s, what is nourishing and what is depleting, and making choices from that place. It is also the energy that expands our capacity for pleasure. Because even if we are living in alignment with our values and soul’s desires, if we have experienced a lot of trauma, grief, or stress and our nervous system (body) isn’t capable of holding the charge of fullness in our lives, it can make it hard to receive it. Somatic work focused on pleasure and eroticism supports our ability to expand into the joy that is already here. 

Here is a quote from a writing authored by Audre Lorde where she speaks to this more clearly. 

“Another important way in which the erotic connection functions is the open and fearless underlining of my capacity for joy, in the way my body stretches to music and opens into response, harkening to its deepest rhythms so every level upon which I sense also opens to the erotically satisfying experience whether it is dancing, building a bookcase, writing a poem, or examining an idea.

That self-connection shared is a measure of the joy which I know myself to be capable of feeling, a reminder of my capacity for feeling. And that deep and irreplaceable knowledge of my capacity for joy comes to demand from all of my life that it be lived within the knowledge that such satisfaction is possible, and does not have to be called marriage, nor god, nor an afterlife.

…..Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence, forcing us to evaluate those aspects honestly in terms of their relative meaning within our lives. And this is a grave responsibility, projected from within each of us, not to settle for the convenient, the shoddy, the conventionally expected, nor the merely safe.”

― Audre Lorde

I want to acknowledge the reality of other processes that can go into our difficulty receiving our lives, including collective and worldwide strife, mental or physical health issues, and other things. Ultimately it is always beneficial to find some support to help you reflect your own heart’s wisdom here on what may be contributing to the block of receptivity. 

If you are interested in learning more, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I offer individual therapy and embodiment practices where I support people in learning how to not only be healthy functioning adults and grow out of oppressive systems inside of our bodies, minds, and hearts but also create more of a brave, pleasurable space to thrive. 

Love Endures, Jackie

Jackie Paulson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Registered 500 Hour Yoga Instructor. She has almost two decades of experience in the helping field. She specializes in working with those who identify as women, as well as couples both in individual + couples therapy, yoga + embodiment practices and women’s circles. Jackie offers a humanistic approach and her overall intention is to empower individuals to seek and connect into their own inner knowing. She believes that each person has an innate ability to empower themselves and journey through any experience with the right support.

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