I already know. Between the fact that most of us don't make it a habit to pamper ourselves nearly as much as we should and using pampering in the context of our souls, some of you are probably wondering what the heck I'm talking about. How in the world does one "pamper their soul"? I'm so glad that you asked, sis. Grab a glass of sparkling water or red wine, turn on some 90s R&B (because does music get any better than that?) and I'll try and break it all down as best as I possibly can.
Ever since I entered my 40s, something that I've been more intentional about doing is pampering myself. Using essential oils. Applying cheba powder to my hair (Chile, your hair hasn't lived until it's had some cheba powder in it!). Getting regular mani/pedis with perks like paraffin wax. Setting some money aside to do whatever, whenever because, as the word "pamper" reminds me, I should do things for myself that are extremely kind and excessively indulgent. Simply because.
And since a wise person (this quote is usually attributed to C.S. Lewis) once said, "We don't have a soul. We are a soul. We happen to have a body," then yes, I think it's extremely important that my soul gets some much-needed attention too.
But just how does one pull that off? Well, that's where it gets interesting. I adore the Hebrew language and the Hebrew word for soul is "nephesh". It means, well, a lot of things; many that I'm going to share with you here. Between the Hebrew definition and the dictionary's definition and synonyms for soul, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by just how vast, relevant and layered your soul really and truly is—and why it deserves all of the pampering that it really and truly does.
If I've said it once, I've said it a billion times before. A saying that I can't stand is "Follow your heart", mostly because a definition of heart is "center of emotions". Considering that we have about 27 of those that can shift at any moment based on our moods or circumstances, I don't think that following it is a sound or stable way to go.
At the same time, I do think that so we can trust our emotions more, it is important to guard our heart as much as possible. Even the Bible advises us to do that (Proverbs 4:23). To me, guarding my heart doesn't mean that I have so many walls up that no one can get close to me. What it does mean is when I feel, whatever it is that I'm feeling, I give myself some time and space to do just that; it's about being kind with myself whether I'm feeling anxious, confused, sad, envious, awkward or any of the other of the 22 emotions that exist.
The thing about the heart is, when we pamper it by listening to our emotions, validating them and then nurturing them as needed, we are better equipped to make smarter decisions. Not because our "heart" told us to but because our logic, our gut and our discernment did.
The mind is the part of our body that thinks, reasons, perceives and even judges (not all judgment is bad by the way; discernment literally means "acute judgment" and it's important to use plenty of that). It's one of the main things that makes us stand out from all other mammals. One way that I believe a lot of us "abuse" our mind is by constantly overthinking—creating movies in our minds, worrying about stuff that hasn't even happened, not being able to move forward in life due to entertaining completely paralyzing thoughts. When this happens, things like stress, insomnia, purpose fatigue and the inability to make decisions can creep in.
One of the best ways to combat all of this and pamper your mind in the process is by taking a rest day, each and every week. I'm not talking about taking a couple of hours to go to church or catch up on Queen Sugar. I mean devoting at least 6-8 hours a day (preferable a full 24), once a week, to do nothing but rest and relax.
For me, that day is the traditional Sabbath (Saturday). When I tell you that I have no problem doing absolutely nothing from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, I wholeheartedly mean that. And since rest is all that is on the itinerary, my mind is able to take a break from phone calls from clients, paying bills, work assignments and whatever craziness that is happening out in cyberspace. I can return to the world on Sunday, with my mind totally refreshed and at ease. (Try it. It's a total game-changer!)
A conversation (that is sometimes more like a debate) that I have with some of the women in my world is there's a difference between maintenance and pampering. Taking a bath isn't really pampering so much as scheduling an appointment at a salon to do a mud soak is. I say that because pampering is about being over-the-top extravagant and not feeling the least bit guilty about it. If it's a facial, why not a chocolate facial? If it's a massage, why not go to a spa or pay for someone to come to your home to do it? If it's a vacation, how about going to a dream resort or taking a cruise?
Many of us struggle with the pearl of wisdom that I'm about to share, but a part of the reason why a lot of us don't require that men treat us like a priceless gem is because we don't do it for ourselves.
Listen, just like you need to budget money to cover your monthly expenses, you also need to save up some cash so that your body can be pampered (more than just a couple of times a year too!). The more you value yourself, the less push back you'll give me—and you—when it comes to this.
Not all of us are religious. But it's rare that I encounter someone who isn't spiritual; "spiritual" in the sense that there is more to us than just flesh and blood, and there is a higher power that helps us to navigate through this thing called life. It took a long time—too long if you ask me—to get to the point and place of what I am about to share but, to me, pampering one's spirit is a lot about learning to surrender. It's about trying to do the best that I can and then accepting that that is all that I can do.
It's about embracing one of my all-time favorite quotes—"God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them" (a pastor by the name of John Piper said that). It's about having good intentions, checking my motives, allowing others the space and time that they need to care for their own spirit and then literally walking by faith and not by sight.
There's a Message version of Scripture that, I think, is the perfect way to pamper the soul—"Relax, everything's going to be all right; rest, everything's coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!" (Jude 1:2—Message) A truly pampered spirit lives just like this. It's relaxed, knowing that Love ultimately has its best interest at heart.
Is it weird to pamper your desires? I don't think so. The key is to make sure that you're pampering, not coddling. Anyway, I think a lot of us could avoid a lot of unnecessary foolishness if we pampered our desires more than we actually do. I mean, just think if we really took what we wished for or wanted seriously. Would we stay at our dead-end job? Would we keep waiting for the man we're with (or is it tolerating?) to get a clue? Would we keep violating our own selves by taking the toxicity and abuse from our so-called family members and friends?
The healthy way to pamper our desires is not about being out here catering to every willy-nilly whim; it's not about being random or reckless. Pampering our desires is about really focusing on what we want in life, factoring in how it will benefit us and, if it does, going after it without delay or compromise. Are you doing that?
It might seem like I already touched on this when I talked about emotions as it directly relates to the heart. But actually, what I'm referring to here, are our feelings as it relates to our five senses—sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. C'mon, be honest…do you put forth a conscious and concerted effort to actually pamper your senses?
- Do you take breaks from staring at monitors so that your eyes can rest? (Then do you put some cucumber slices on them?)
- Are you mindful about the kind of things you listen to whether it's media-related or certain conversations?
- When's the last time you had a meal that brought you nothing but pure delight and pleasure?
- Do you exfoliate and then moisturize your skin? Is your underwear and bedding luxuriant?
- Do you have a diffuser that's filled with soothing essential oils or soy candles that smell like delightful scents (and if you do, do you light them)?
Indulging our senses are important because, the more in sync with them we are, the less stressed we'll feel. And a calm soul is a thriving one.
Indulge your passion. Shoot, I feel like that needs to be a tagline for an ad or something (if I see it somewhere, I'm coming for my check!). Anyway, the reason why I find this phrase—which is really more like a mantra or motto—to be so fitting is because, believe it or not, one definition of indulge is "allow oneself to follow one's will". And you know what? I see absolutely no reason why you wouldn't do that when it comes to the things that you are passionate about!
When you read stories on our site like "Passion over Paycheck: Why I Quit My Job at 30 to Start Living" and "This Is How the Founders of CurlFest Turned Passion into Profit", how can they not inspire you to want to ponder over the things that drive you and then do what you can to make them manifest? A woman who pampers her soul is definitely a woman who feeds her passions in life. You betta believe it!
Let me just say off top that having an ego is not always or automatically a bad thing. Our ego is about singling ourselves out from others. In fact, having a healthy sense of self-worth is directly connected to our ego. Things only start to get weird when our ego gets out of balance and we start to lack empathy or compassion for others. You know, when what we think and want is all that matters to us (our current president and his ridiculousness immediately comes to mind).
So, just how is it that we can pamper our ego without becoming a roaring narcissist in the process? It might sound overly simplistic, but self-love is a great way to do it. Starting your day off by jotting down five things that you like about yourself; feeding your body with things that are good for you; excusing yourself from negativity; releasing toxic individuals and forgiving yourself for little mistakes and bad decisions that you've made—these are all ways to care for your self-esteem so that your ego doesn't feel the need to get out of hand and overcompensate by doing the absolute most, whether it's online or off.
A quote that I really dig is by a Spanish philosopher by the name of José Ortega y Gasset. He once said, "Tell me what you pay attention to and I will tell you who you are." That speaks a mouthful, all on its own. Whenever I hear it, something that immediately comes to mind is my value system. And yes, our principles are very much a part of our soul.
Something that's pretty disturbing about the world right now is how so many people are being bullied and berated due to their principles; their "accepted or professed rule of action or conduct". And the reality is that we should love our soul and respect the souls of others enough to stand for our values without thinking that means that we have to railroad over others'.
Your basic and fundamental beliefs? Pamper them by spending some time studying and researching why you believe, feel and stand for what you do. Determine how to connect your values to your purpose and passion. Surround yourself with those who will not make you feel bad for having the principles that you do. I can personally attest to the fact that the more that I honor my own personal values, the more I am able to respect others—whether they are like mine or not.
There is a scent that I wear that I always get complimented on. It also never fails that people ask me what it is. I never tell them. Why? Well, it also took me a long time to get to the point and place of relishing in the fact that it's OK to have some things that are exclusively your own. It speaks to your individuality. Your nature. Sometimes your personality and/or your character too…you know, your core self.
There's no way that I could write a piece about the importance of pampering our souls without encouraging every individual reading this to honor themselves in exclusive ways. It's OK to have a unique style, a signature scent or to purchase something that is a rare find…and then to keep it totally to yourself.
There is only one you and you deserve to have things in your life that represent your true awareness of that very fact. Making that kind of distinction will be something that will make you feel so good about yourself—from the top of your head to the very depths of your soul.
Featured image by Unsplash
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
5 Reasons Your Self-Care Routine Isn't Working For You
What It Means To Find True Self-Love
10 Instagram Accounts That Will Keep Your Soul Quenched
Originally published July 18, 2019
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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7 Sex-Related Problems That Ruin Sex (And Possibly Your Relationship)
Not too long ago, while in an interview, someone asked me to define one of the main purposes of sex in a long-term relationship: “Probably the most intimate form of communication that we have is sex because it’s an act that connects one’s physical, mental and emotional state to another human being simultaneously — and communication doesn’t get much more profound than that.”
That’s part of the reason why the term “casual sex” irks me to the billionth degree (check out “We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'”); it’s because, even if you think that sex with someone is next-to-nothing, there is so much going on within you (oxytocin highs, if you’re unprotected, fluid bonding, chemical reactions in your brain, etc.) that doesn’t know if someone is “the one” (in your mind) or not. So, in many ways, it acts like they are (check out this YouTube video from a Catholic woman who studies some unexpected ways that sex affects us physically here; sex goes deep, y’all!).
Yeah, sex is so much more than a notion, and that’s why I’m a firm believer that it is such a barometer for long-term relationships overall — because, as I’ve shared before, I once read that, “Good sex in a relationship is 10 percent of the relationship while bad sex in a relationship is 90 percent of the relationship because sex tends to set the tone for what’s happening in the rest of the house.”
And that’s why I think that there are certain sex-related issues that can not only damage your sex life with your partner but could also end up ruining your relationship if you’re not careful (very careful). Let’s get into seven of them now.
1. Being Unaware of Your “Body Clock”Giphy
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had who’ve come to me in some serious trouble, in part due to their flailing (or partly nonexistent) sex life. When I ask them if they went to premarital counseling (if you’re engaged, please do; you have a 33 percent greater chance of avoiding divorce when counseling transpires), many say “no” and the ones who say “yes” usually say that it was no more than 3-5 sessions and the topic of sex barely came up (le sigh). Meanwhile, with my premarital meetings, I try and stick with intimacy for three months if I can because there is a lot to unpack, from what you learned as a child, to your first time (or if you are a virgin), to your needs and fantasies, to how you see it from a spiritual perspective — like I said, there is a lot to unpack there.
Take the mere practicality of sex, for example — and more specifically, your body clock. Do you prefer to have sex at night or in the daytime? A lot of couples struggle with intimacy because one prefers the former while the other likes the latter. Do you keep track of when you’re ovulating? It’s pure science why you are probably hornier during that time of the month (because your body is signaling that it’s time to conceive) vs. the fact that you might not be the most interested in sex when you’re PMS’ing. Are you premenopausal? Hormones shift a lot during that time, and here’s the thing — while menopause only lasts a year, the premenopausal stage (which typically starts between 45-55) can last between 7-14 years. Even paying attention to when you have more energy (some do in the day…morning sex, anyone? While others do early in the evening) can play a role.
So yeah, getting to know your body clock (and discussing your partner’s clock with them) can play a role in how much — or how little — sex you have…and that can add life or drain it from the relationship overall.
2. Comparing Your Present with Your PastGiphy
There is a wife of almost 20 years I know who, when I asked her if she thought that her husband was good in bed, she paused for a second, shrugged her shoulders, and simply said, “I was a virgin when I got married, so I have nothing to compare him to. I mean, he’s good to me.” On the flip side, there’s a now divorced couple who I also know (who almost made it to 20 years) who had multiple partners before each other while also having a deep interest in porn who once said to me, “Sometimes, there’s as much as 15 people in our bed because of all of the people from our past and the porn that we’ve seen that’s running through our heads.” Yeah, y’all can act like body counts don’t matter, but there is so much evidence out here that says otherwise — that couple just gave one that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should.
You know, one of my favorite throwback shows is King of Queens (Kevin James, Leah Remini). A few weeks ago, I watched a rerun where Doug and Carrie were talking about the images that come up in their minds, sometimes during sex. Neither was too happy about it, and I can totally see why. I mean, if sex was just about “getting off” (and it’s not), then whatever. However, AGAIN, it’s also about connecting with your partner on a mental and emotional level, and that’s hard to do if you’re there with them in the body while you’re fantasizing about a celebrity, a porn actor (porn is usually acting, don’t let it fool you) or an ex (check out “You Love Him. You Prefer Sex With Your Ex. What Should You Do?”).
And what if that is what’s going on? I once spoke with a sex therapist about this very thing. What she said is people should be less concerned about celebs (if it’s on occasion) and more concerned about that ex because rarely is sex with an ex…just about the sex.
And that’s why this point made the list. If you’re physically with your partner and mentally or emotionally with your ex at the same time, please don’t ignore that. There are definitely some unresolved issues there that you need to work through, whether it’s with a therapist, counselor, or coach, a trusted friend (who won’t add fuel to the literal fire), or even with your ex — although you might want to run that by your partner first because…I’m pretty sure you’d want him to do that with/for you. RIGHT?
3. Not Being Clear About Your Sexual NeedsGiphy
Question — if someone were to walk up to you right now and ask you what your top seven sexual needs are, along with what your top five sexual dealbreakers are, would you be able to answer? It really is kind of wild how many people get upset with their partner for not being able to sexually satisfy them when even they can’t articulate what they need/require in order for that to happen. Yeah, it’s another article for another time about how many people UNREALISTICALLY (and yes, I am yelling it) think that someone loving them well means that they should be able to read their mind. Nope.
It truly can’t be said enough that sex — especially good sex — is about communication. Hmph. It makes me think about a clip that I saw from Tonight’s Conversation podcast (can’t find it at the moment; sorry) where a woman asked how she should tell her partner that he hasn’t been pleasing her, I believe she said for years. My first thought was if he doesn’t know that, she must be faking orgasms (more on that in a bit) which is not only lying — well, it is —, but it’s also pretty counterproductive because while he thinks that he’s “getting the job done,” she’s not fulfilled and resentment is setting in.
Please don’t let rom-coms (fiction) and social media (which is oftentimes fictitious) have you out here thinking that a good lover is someone you automatically gel with who knows exactly what to do; sometimes that is the case, and oftentimes it isn’t.
So, if the sex-related issue that you’re having in your relationship is that your sexual needs aren’t being met, first do you (and your partner) a favor by doing some sex journaling (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) so that you can tangibly see what those needs are and then plan time within the next week or so to pour a couple of glasses of wine, put on some 90s R&B and discuss with your partner what you need. Because actually, what a good lover is, is someone who listens and retains. This brings me to the next point.
4. Minimizing Your Partner’s Sexual NeedsGiphy
A husband once told that when he and his wife were in premarital counseling, something that he mentioned was a bona fide need was fellatio. According to him, his wife told both him and their counselor that she loved giving head. Fast forward to eight years of being in their union, and guess how many times that act went down? A measly four. FOUR TIMES (check out “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”).
It’s another message for another time, the amount of people who will “false advertise” during the dating stage in order to get to their goal of marriage. It’s also another message for another time how much that is a form of manipulation that tends to backfire in ways that the manipulator is oftentimes not prepared for.
For now, what I will say, is never think that just because something may not be a need for you that it isn’t a legitimate one for someone else. I mean, how would you feel if that’s how someone treated you? Yeah…exactly.
Yet that is just what happens in a lot of relationships, including when it comes to their bedroom. They will think that their needs should be met, hands down, yet when their partner comes with what’s important to them, all of a sudden, there is dismissiveness, nonchalance, and/or excuses — and how could that not rear its ugly head on so many levels?
Your partner’s sexual needs are essential, even if they are not your own. Never assume that you automatically know everything about them. Also, never assume that what worked two years ago is what will “scratch the itch” now. Hmph. Come to think of it, while you’re sipping on that wine and clearly articulating to him what turns you on, use that as an opportunity to ask him to return the favor. Listen with humility, receptiveness, and intent — the best kind of relationships process their partner’s needs with this kind of vibe…across the board.
5. Taking the “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” ApproachGiphy
Lazy lovers. When you hear that phrase, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If it’s someone who is just lying there during sex, that would certainly qualify; however, I’m actually speaking of a different kind of laziness here. Believe it or not, some synonyms for lazy include words like apathetic, inattentive, tired, passive (cough, cough), procrastinating, neglectful, and slacking. So yeah, if you and/or your partner can use any of these words to define what sex is consistently like between the two of you — red flag, red flag…RED FREAKIN’ FLAG.
Speaking of being passive, another potentially serious sex-related problem is taking on the attitude that if something ain’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it. What I mean by that is, just because you know that getting on top and riding for exactly six-and-a-half minutes is what will get your partner off, that doesn’t mean that it should be your automatic go-to all of the damn time.
Why? Because. While a part of the fun of having sex is “reaching the peak,” another component that should never be underestimated is discovering new territory: trying new positions, creating a sex bucket list, taking (more) sexcations, playing sex-themed board games (put that phrase in Amazon or on Etsy’s site and go ham!)…you know, doing what will inspire creativity and deter either of you from becoming bored.
That said, a husband of 17 years once told me, “A man can be satisfied with the same woman. We just don’t want the same kind of sex with her.” Words to live by. Yes, indeed.
6. Using Sex as a Deflection or Coping MechanismGiphy
A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good” — and with good cause. Words cannot express how many divorced (or soon-to-be divorced) women have told me that a part of what kept them in their marriage, for as long as they stayed in it, was the fact that the sex with their husband was beyond amazing…even though so much other stuff completely and totally sucked. Hey, good sex isn’t a bad thing (c’mon now); however, if it’s the only real thing that’s keeping you with someone, it can turn out to be a toxic deflector.
The reason why I say that is the purpose of sex isn’t to make love; it’s to celebrate it. And if all you’re doing with your partner is f — king and fighting or avoiding issues by stripping down or thinking that sex will “make it all better,” all the while not really knowing what the problem/issue is or what needs to be done to get down to the root of it, that is using sex as a pacifier and again, that’s not what sex is designed to be. Sex doesn’t deserve the pressure of being the end-all to “fixing” ish.
So, if what’s transpiring in your relationship lately is very little talking and a whole lot of sexing, and then once the sex is over, something still feels “off,” that’s a good indication that you’re misusing sex on some level. Get out of the bed, put on a robe, and do some talking (preferably in a room other than the bedroom; leave that space for sex and sleep only as much as possible). Because remember — as much as the wives that I mentioned said that their husbands once had them climbing the walls, those men are still ex-husbands now. Bottom line, sex is good, yet when it comes to keeping a relationship together, it will never be enough. Again, it was never designed to be.
7. Faking ItGiphy
I will never be a fan of faking orgasms. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini (we may be a lot of things, but “fake” isn’t really our style). Maybe it’s because I’m a very word-literal individual, and I know that fake means things like “prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent)” and “to conceal the defects of or make appear more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive.” Or perhaps it’s because I don’t get how acting like you’re sexually fulfilled when you actually aren’t is doing anyone any good. Whatever it is, whenever a client (or someone in general because men fakealmost as much as women do) tells me that it’s something they do, I immediately find myself on a mission to shut that mess down (check out “Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP”). ALL THE WAY DOWN.
The main reason is that, regardless of if the motive is to hurry things along, not hurt your partner’s feelings, or it’s something more cryptic than that (cough, cough, some form of manipulation tactic), there’s no way around the fact that fakeness is tied to deception and deception is a word that should never be connected to a healthy sexual dynamic.
Besides, one could argue that faking is a form of deflection as well because…wouldn’t it be better to just get it all out in the open WHY you are doing it than to keep pretending when life is too short and great sex is too good to not get the absolute most out of it, as much as possible?
Besides, again, chances are that if you’re faking that you’re sexually pleased, you’re probably faking something else in your relationship (or situation), and how could that possibly be good, right, or beneficial?
Yeah, when it comes to being satisfied across the board, please don’t fake it. State your case in the way that you’d like to hear something said to you, and let the chips fall where they may. If you’ve got a good man, he’s gonna — no pun — rise to the occasion. If his ego can’t handle it, well…that’s something that you should find out sooner than later — when it comes to the bedroom and outside of it? Right? #shoyouright
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