“You know there is more,” “be the best version of yourself,” “have it all.” Is that really what this is about when you book a yoga class or an appointment with a coach?
I am a power and sexuality coach for women. I see the effects of coaching every day, but still these formulas make me cringe.
Capitalism has polluted the well-being industry with a sickening vocabulary coming from the world of productivity.
When people ask for guidance, almost all the time they need to get away from the “be the best version of yourself” ideal, and with it, the standardized norms they endlessly compare themselves to.
I don’t sell “mind blowing sex” or “epic love” to women. Because well-being, sex, and love happen within a context. And I find it violent to buy into this logic that you always create your own happiness, and you are the only one responsible for it.
It means there’s an underlying assumption that if you are in pain, depressed, or you haven’t what you want, it’s because you haven’t done what it takes to get out of it, you haven’t “taken responsibility,” you haven’t “been accountable,” therefore there’s something to fix.
Relationships, sex, well-being, and the other side of the coin, which is trauma, happen within a context, therefore these topics are, as many others, systemic and political.
In the 80s, more or less, the western world became a bit more materialistic. That’s when I would say there was a shift for the middle class people from buying what they need to buying for pleasure. And because of the sacred law of balance, at the same time, the well-being practices, coming mainly from Asia, which were starting to spread in the 70s, became more and more known.
When it became clear this increase of material goods was not the shortcut to happiness, those practices related to well-being or even spirituality arrived with new promises—to feel calm, balanced, connected, happy. A tempting state of being for the western man or woman running around trying to be successful in a more material world.
But capitalism wouldn’t leave an industry alone that would generate millions and millions of dollars each year (5.6 trillion last year, according to Global Wellness Institute). So to sell you more, the marketing that comes with it suggests that if you are not a balanced, happy person, you haven’t yet found a good way to fix this and invested in yourself. And there’s something more that’s waiting for you once you’ve done the work to become that better version of yourself.
You can see as well how this injunction to be the one responsible for your happiness takes away the responsibility of our countries, states, and ministries of health when it comes to the well-being and the mental health of people.
And as there’s no end to always being able to feel better and grow more, you will always be able to consume more well-being offers.
There will always be some self-something to sort you out.
Anxious with the world at the moment? Here are some self-care tips.
Your relationships are not harmonious? You should work on self-love.
You worry about the ecologic crisis? Let’s work on your eco-anxiety.
And as we are busy competing by ourselves to take charge of our happiness, we forget a great teaching from mother nature: we mammals survived for a reason—we were able to relate and cooperate.
And you take sex, love, or any area you feel you struggle with, and I bet with you:
This isn’t a self-love issue.
This is a power issue.
There are other people involved; it’s always relational. Because power is relational.
Nothing is wrong with you, but things might have been wrong around you or they are now.
Sh*t didn’t happen because you weren’t the best version of yourself or your lacked some self-love, more likely because you were overpowered, by another person, a family system, a culture, a religious group, or societal norms.
I don’t coach people to get more or become more.
I actually think they get rid of stuff, for example:
>> Internalized standardized ways of being that hurt them
>> Automated defense mechanisms pushing them to self-exclude to feel safe
>> Excess of locked energy in the body that leaves them frozen at times
There’s nothing to gain when you want to come closer to your humanity and our humanity. It’s more about removing what takes you away from your natural state—which is way enough.