Today I teach you how to develop your own personal brand of enlightened audacity. What is enlightened audacity and how can we harness it to our advantage? In this episode, I am building on last week’s topic: the universal task of coming out of the closet. I offer practical tips for validating your feelings and I share a story about my father. I also give you practices to take home that will give you space in your life to consider the delight of audacity.
Listen in to learn all about enlightened audacity, tips for turning your needs into asks, and how poison ivy made Ken better at his work.
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- What is enlightened audacity
- How to develop enlightened audacity
- Tips for validating your feelings
- A story about Ken’s father
- How to turn your needs into asks
- Listen to The Deeper Dating Podcast Episode 157: The Power of Speaking Your Truth
- Get a copy of Deeper Dating by Ken Page
- Join the Coaching and Mentorship Intensive with Ken Page
- Connect with us on Instagram
Enlightened Audacity is a recipe for excitement and tenderness and deeper connection. In this episode, you’ll learn how to develop your own capacity for enlightened audacity. So stay tuned to The Deeper Dating® Podcast.
Hi everybody, and welcome to The Deeper Dating® Podcast. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist and the author of the bestselling book, Deeper Dating, and your host on this podcast. And today I’m going to be speaking about enlightened audacity, which is that gorgeous combination of being brave and bold and speaking your truth, but doing it with kindness toward yourself and others. It’s at the heart, the very heart, of real living intimacy.
And in this episode and every episode, I’m committed to sharing with you the greatest tools and insights that I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing and heal your life in the process. Because the skills of dating are the skills of love, and those are the greatest skills of all.
And if you want to learn more about the Deeper Dating® Path to Real Intimacy or the Deeper Dating® Intensive or any of my work, just go to deeperdatingpodcast.com, and if you sign up for my mailing list, you’ll get three wonderful free gifts and you’ll learn more about how to use these ideas to transform your own intimacy journey.
And you’ll also find complete transcripts of this episode and every other episode as well. And by the way, if you like what you’re learning here, I would love it if you could subscribe and leave me a review. So thank you to all the folks that have done that. I deeply appreciate it. And let’s jump in.
If you're with someone who catches you when you leap, it's just the most amazing experience, and that experience deepens love and intimacy, romance and Eros. Click To Tweet
So what we’re going to talk about today builds on the last episode where I talked about coming out of the closet not as a queer person, but as a human being, and this universal task of revealing the parts of ourselves that we felt like the world didn’t understand or have space for, and how beautiful and revolutionary and treasured that act is.
So today, I’m going to build on that even further, and I’m going to talk about a concept which I call enlightened audacity, which I adore, and I think it’s the heart and soul of dynamic, erotic, vulnerable, meaning-filled intimacy.
So what is enlightened audacity? It’s a kind of combination of the bravery of speaking truth and holding our humanity and the people we are with, their humanity, in what I call cupped hands, with kindness, with compassion and with openness. It’s an act of bravery that holds balance, and there was a Hindu saint, the Hindu teacher that came to the United States and spent many, many years here. His name is Paramahansa Yogananda, and he’s been my closest spiritual teacher since I was a teenager.
Anyway, he said that he had met a lot of enlightened people in his life and he said that there was something that they shared in common, which was this smile that he called this, “Million dollar smile of balanced recklessness.” They were not afraid, but they also held themselves with some kind of balance.
So I adore that, and that’s the kind of thrilling and scary and beautiful ongoing forever part of the intimacy journey. So let’s take this apart and let’s discover what enlightened audacity is. I’ve spoken about this in another episode a couple of years ago, but I’m going to be speaking about it in some different ways today, and I’m going to be providing you with some practices that you could do and even think about, during this period where you’re listening to this episode. You could actually start developing these skills and picturing living these skills. So this is going to be a dynamic episode, and I encourage you to pause anywhere where you feel like something is moving or shifting inside of you, that there’s some kind of download occurring, there’s some kind of shift or being touched.
Just pause if you can and let that download complete. Let it ripple through you because it will change your circuitry, and that’s the rich thing about living a life of growth is that we get moments like that, and I hope you do have some during this episode.
Okay, so let’s talk about the audacity piece first. So audacity is the bravery to say what you think, to say what you feel, to take the concepts that feel true to you even though they’ve never really been validated enough in the world, and hold and understand them in a way that they feel, within you, seen and validated, and then to speak and reflect these qualities anyway.
To frame them in a way that’s truthful to you, to take your quirks and traumas and anxieties and passions and visions and needs and put words on them in a relationship and in your relationship to the world and to yourself. To do the asks that are the most scary to do, to do the shares that are scary with people who are safe. And it’s really scary. This is existentially scary stuff. No kidding.
And that’s part of what makes it glorious. I was once in a trapeze workshop. I had to climb this dizzying ladder, which made me very, very nervous and stand on this tiny platform high up. It was surrounded by nets. Nothing could have happened, but it was still really very, very scary. And when the trapeze came, I had to jump into space to grab it, and there was this inky terror that I had to jump into.
It was pure terror. It was terror and dread, and I had to jump anyway. And I did. I jumped and it was really fun, and then it was a very simple baby class, so I just dropped into the net and I was very happy.
But that’s kind of what it’s like to leap into speaking a truth that scares you but touches you at the same time. The difference is that if you’re with someone who catches you when you leap, it’s just the most amazing experience, and that experience deepens love and intimacy and romance and Eros. It’s magic when you take that risk and you are seen or held or caught or understood. And of course, we want to be with someone with whom we can do this.
So audacity is the bravery to speak your truth, and also to know, as Emerson said, and I quoted this in an earlier episode, that the more authentic and true we are, the more personally nitty-gritty true we are, the more there’s a chance for what we’re saying to ring true on a deep level to other people, and that those most personal nitty-gritty truths for those of us who have the bravery to put words on them, actually touch something universal.
Defining enlightened audacity:
And in that place where these very personal ideas have a ring of universality, then we can have other people have this liberating experience where something they didn’t think could really be put into words was put into words. And then it becomes part of the ground that they stand on, part of their language, part of the self that they can move through the world with.
And this is why it’s such a contribution. So that audacity is scary as hell, and in my intensives where we work together over a period of six months really closely, I’ve learned so much about this journey from these intensives and something that we live with and live through as a community is people struggling with and building the bravery to speak their truths when they’re dating, when they’re in a relationship.
It’s really, really brave, and often, the hardest and scariest part of a relationship, of a conscious relationship, is sharing our needs. But the first step before we share them is normalizing them in our head, giving them room and actually saying, “It makes sense that I feel this way,” because that’s one of the most beautiful and kind lines that we can give to ourself.
Feelings are not facts. Click To Tweet
It’s a practice that’s so powerful when we have feelings that don’t make sense to us or we haven’t really put them into words or we don’t feel like there has been a place for them in the world to still uncover those parts and discover the ways in which they do make sense, discover the ways in which they do deserve a language.
They do deserve words. They do deserve speaking. They deserve expression.
And that practice is this. “It makes sense that I feel this way because,” and you just fill in the blank. That process of when you’re bewildered by your thoughts or your feelings or you’re judging them or they don’t seem nice or they don’t seem right, or they feel like they’re too much or not enough, “It makes sense that I feel this way because,” and that because is connected to so many things. It’s connected to your deepest Core Gifts.
The way you feel things may more intensely than other people. The way certain things hurt you may be because of history and may be because of these deep Core Gifts in yourself.
You feel both hurt and inspired around those places more than other people do. So I want to just offer this practice to you and have you play with it right now. Super, super quick. But before I do, I just want to digress for a second and say that, of course, feelings are not facts. That whatever it is we’re feeling, it’s really important to be able to find the way that it makes sense.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s actually going to necessarily make sense to the other person or be adopted as a truth by the other person or by the world, or even ultimately by us. But those parts of us need to be heard. And until they have space, they’ll be angry, they’ll be suppressed, they’ll be shame.
And when they have the space to unfold, and when we find the sense in them, then they actually really do have the freedom to begin to mature, develop, see the other side. But we have to begin by giving them space. So you might even want to pause the recording after I explain this practice and give it a shot right now.
So take a moment to think. What is a feeling that you’ve been having that you’ve been embarrassed by or felt awkward around or felt like you really didn’t have the right to feel that way or that, God knows, even if you do feel that way, you don’t have a right to express that you feel that way.
So I just want you to pause the recording and fill in the end of this sentence. “It makes sense that I feel this way because…” And you can describe your past history. You could describe the sanity of feeling the way that you do and even how, if this was heard and understood by the world or the other person, how it would actually be a contribution to them.
So take a minute and give that a shot if you like. So those of us that have selves that are big with need and passion and emotion or generosity often feel like we’re just too much. And there’s a deep shame that gets built around these parts of ourselves.
This is something I’ve seen in my own life, and I see it in the work that I have done in the intensives and my decades of work as a psychotherapist where people are working so closely and so carefully on their own journey and they find it so scary to speak their real truth.
Validate from within:
It’s very moving, especially in a group when someone is going through that and just about everyone else gets it, gets how scary it is, gets how terrifying, how important, how tender it is.
And when you’re really going to share what you want emotionally, for example, maybe what’s missing for you that you need in your relationship, and the act first of normalizing that within yourself, of validating it, of even understanding how it connects to your deepest gift is the very first step.
If we leave that first step out, that step of self-honoring, we’re always going to feel kind of extra terrified. We won’t have firm ground to stand on. We’ll feel wobbly, and in that wobbly state, we are so much more likely to be defensive and prickly and self-suppressing or acting out, which is often the result of self-suppressing. But normalizing and honoring these parts of ourselves, that’s the first stage of this audacity.
It’s also the beginning of the enlightened part, blending your awareness and your commitment to your truth with compassion. So the second stage, the enlightened part, being kind enough to normalize and honor and dignify our own experience, that’s the very first part of that second stage.
Now, we’ve allowed ourselves to hold these parts of ourselves with what I call cupped hands. And this is an image that kind of captures that enlightened kindness state. So what does that mean? You can actually picture this and you could even, if you want, try it with your hands right now. Cupping your hands like you were holding a butterfly or a baby bird, you hold it with cupped hands. You leave it room to breathe. You don’t want to crush it. You don’t want to suffocate it.
You want to dignify its space, its sense of space, but your hands are still cradling it. You’re holding it like it’s something precious and valuable, and that is one of the holy acts of intimacy. And first, we get to do that with ourselves, and then we do it with the other person.
How can I find the sanity in what I'm afraid to say or let myself realize or feel? What's the wisdom in that? What's the truth? Click To Tweet
So let’s say we’ve got this ask, and the next thing is to hold this ask with cupped hands in ourselves and then to take this cupped hands ask, this part of ourselves that we are holding with compassion for ourselves, and think about who the other person is and think about how much it would mean to you if they saw this part of you and if they could make space for it.
That’s a really good one to think about. What a treasure it would be, what it would mean to you, why it really is such an important ask. And then you think of ways that it might scare them, that this ask might ask them to turn themselves inside out, to let go of a defense that they have had to use to protect themselves in their lives, and you hold that with compassion.
You think about maybe they’re going to feel like, “Oh God, this person doesn’t like me.” You don’t like them, or you don’t want them, or that they’re not good enough. You hold all of those possibilities with cupped hands so that you say it kindly and you say it not as a harsh demand or a criticism, but an invitation, an honoring of all that they do and what you still need from them.
And I’m going to give you an example. There was something recently that I had to share with my husband, Greg, where I didn’t feel seen or held around something really important to me. But I was able to begin that conversation, and God knows, I do not always do this well. I’m using this as an example of what to do versus what not to do because in many ways, and many times, I have been a living example of what not to do. Let me be very real about that.
But what I did, in this case, was I said to him, “Greg, you’re someone who gives to me all the time, and you give me so much. And I know that pretty much anything I ask you for, you’re going to really do your best to give to me. I feel so given to by you, but in this way, I haven’t, and I’m so used to feeling given to by you that I’m hoping for it. I’m expecting it. It hurt that I didn’t get it, and I still really need it here.”
So that was an example of enlightened audacity because, first of all, I was able to validate my needs enough to say it instead of just being ashamed by it. And second, that I was able to put it into words that held it and honored it inside of me so that I could talk about it not from an apologetic stance, not from a defensive stance, but in a way that honored what that need was, which was a big deal for me because I have so often said these things in a defensive prickly way when I’ve allowed something to go on too long.
And also at the same time, often, as I do my ask, I do it in a confrontational way where I’m fighting against my own shame at the same time. So it comes out harsh, it comes out forced because I’m fighting so hard not to drown in my own shame and self-invalidation. So for me, being able to do this is a beautiful step that I celebrate. So that’s the enlightened part, is doing it with kindness.
And I remember at one point, I got this really, really terrible, terrible case of poison ivy, and it was so bad that I had to go on steroids for months, but it really helped my work as a therapist. It really improved my work as a therapist because the ‘roids somehow gave me this other energy, this extra energy to say, to frame, to validate the things I was afraid to say because maybe I felt that it would hurt my client or it would be too much, or they would feel judged or they will feel criticized or not held, demanded of.
So I wouldn’t say those things, but on these steroids, I would think them and I would be brave enough to say them, which was fabulous. I thought of it as kind of a one-two-punch kind of thing. And that was one. And then two was how could I frame this with so much kindness, with so much seeing-ness this that they would get it? So I would do this exact process in my work as a therapist, and it stayed with me.
I would think, “What is it I’m afraid to say? How can I find the sanity in what I’m afraid to say or let myself realize or feel? What’s the wisdom in that? What’s the truth? What’s the sanity?” And then, “How can I say it in a way that the other person is going to feel seen? That my client will feel seen in a way that I’m identifying their gifts in a really clear way as the ground of context for all of this, so they feel the gift first and foremost?”
So my dad, I’ve talked about my dad a number of times here. He was a Holocaust survivor, and toward the end of his life, the very, very, very end of his life when he was in bed and couldn’t really move, he had a lot of people coming to visit him because he had made a difference in a lot of people’s lives, and people came to visit him, and the garbage can next to his bed ended up being filled with tissues as they left.
And I learned something so deep from him as a therapist because this is how he would tell people what they needed to change. He would have the audacity to see what needed to change. He’d have the audacity to point it out and to tell them how they were maybe limiting themselves or hurting themselves and what they needed to do.
He was very bold in that way, but he would always start with the gift so that the person felt seen down to their bones. And then he would talk about why that gift needed to be honored by having this person make this change. I learned so much from him on the audacity side and the enlightened side. So now I want to ask you to do the very same thing.
Think of a situation where there’s something you want to share, and we’re going to go through these steps. I’m going to say what they are, and then if you like, you could pause the recording and do this. So first, what is it you’re wanting? What is it you’re feeling? What is the unvarnished truth of who you are, what you want, and what you need?
Second, how does it make sense that you feel that way? Actually fill in the blanks. “It makes sense that I feel this way because…” “It has contribution for the world and for this relationship because…” “It’s valid that I feel this way because…” And first, honor that in yourself. And when you can answer those parts of the questions, then think about how you could frame this as an ask.
Harville Hendrix says, and I quote all the time, he says this so gorgeously, “Turn your anger into an ask.” How can you frame this need as an ask? And take a minute to practice in your head what it would be like with your loved one to do that.
But by starting out thinking first about their gifts and all the things that you appreciate about them and how asking for this is probably a big ask, given the way that they are organized, given the way that they have had to protect themselves in the world, and hold all of that together and think about how you would present this.
The delight of audacity:
So the enlightened piece is really important because, and this is big, you want to see your audacity as a contribution. But often, you don’t necessarily need to do all this careful, careful work. You could be in a meeting and you could have something you want to say, and you don’t say it mean, but you say it clearly and truthfully after you’ve done the work of honoring the sanity of what you’re feeling.
So this can apply in all sorts of ways, and I want to share two added benefits of doing this that are so pro-intimacy. The first is that that gap that you have to leap over, that chasm of fear, creates Eros. It creates aliveness. It creates adventure. It creates turn-on and excitement, and if it’s a sexual relationship, it does those things in sexual ways, and in other arenas, it’s just a sense of adventure and aliveness. It sparks you. It fills you up.
And the second thing is that the enlightened part creates a space of kindness which touches people deeply and makes them feel seen and loved.
So I encourage you to think about the delight of audacity, the risk, the truth, the adventure, and hold that along with that heartwarming feeling of deeper closeness. This is the adventure of intimacy, and I’d love if you want to share your stories of practicing this and trying it and what happens inside and outside, in the relationship and in yourself.
And if you want, you could just go to deeperdatingpodcast.com and go to “Ask Ken” and share your story. It doesn’t have to be a question. It could just be your story because I’d love to share them with the community.
So thank you so much for listening. I look forward to connecting with you on the next episode of The Deeper Dating® Podcast and wonderful adventures to you in your journey toward enlightened audacity.
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