Tune In (To Self)
You know the experience when you first get in your car, put your key in the ignition and hit the radio scan mode? The music streams by until the moment of “Hey, that’s the song I like!” You push the button and commit. Tuning in to yourself is similar. We often exist in a “scan” state of being, which can be very thoughtless and reactive, unaware. Tuning in basically means the opposite. Using the senses, our body, emotions, thoughts and imagination to attend to the unique internal world. To stop the scan mode and really notice what’s inside.
Do you “Tune In?
”Do you notice how the sun feels like on your skin?Do you know what it feels like when your body is hungry or tired?
Can you describe physically what lonely feels like? love? joy? anger?Are you aware of the thoughts you have about yourself and others as you go through your day?
If you answered no to all of these, you have probably been tuned out for a really long time. For those who have tuned out, becoming aware of the internal world might at first be a little disconcerting. Feelings and sensations that you haven’t noticed for a long time (or ever) start coming up for air, throwing you off balance for a time.
If you answer no to half, you have probably not spent much time with your internal relationship lately, perhaps getting into a habit of busy-ness and preoccupation, and could use some “tune up.”
If you said yes to all, you are already tuned in and recognize this state.
Are you curious about how to deepen and intensify it?
Are you interested to harness the power of your intuition?
Whatever your level, once you get used to being tuned in, it’s very hard to shut it off and you won’t want to. Once you are noticing, everything feels richer. It is similar to the sweet satisfaction of being happy in the moment with your favorite song. You’ve left scan mode behind. Tuning in can feel like that. Conscious. Engaged.***
Tune In (To Others)
When you can tune in to others, relationships become much more fulfilling. Imagine the difference between hearing a song through a cassette tape versus a state of the art modern sound system. It’s amplified, clear, just better.
Once you know how to tune in to you, being able to really tune into another becomes simple. There are many reasons, though, why it can be a challenge to truly tune into an other. Habits of busy-ness, e.g., orienting to tasks, keeping up with a fast paced lifestyle, or the need to focus on basic needs of survival (e.g., paying bills, protecting children), can direct our attention inward.
Another major hurdle is developmentally. Consider how, in adolescence, as kids start to become attracted to others, they are also dealing with a life stage where they are extremely self-conscious, physically awkward, struggling to establish their identity and wrestling with self-esteem. Remember this fun time?
Teens are preoccupied with self-absorbed thoughts like “What does he/she think of me,” “I could never do that, my friends would make fun of me,” and elaborate attempts to avoid rejection at all costs. Teens often look at their popularity as a measure of their self-worth and attractiveness.In other words, they are over attuned to others’ opinions in forming their own feelings about their self.
*** Do you recognize this type of thinking in your adult life?
Do you find yourself judging other people before you know them?
Do you assume someone who is meeting you for the first time at work will judge you harshly?
Do you often find yourself evaluating your looks, income, beauty and personality and taking stock of your worth?
Do you feel fine about yourself, but hate to make a mistake and get stressed if your work isn’t just right?
While it’s normal to care what other people think and feel a sense of pride, it’s nice when it’s balanced with a trust in one’s own opinion of their self. Some adults, though, haven’t been able to achieve this state and move beyond the more adolescent dependency of relying on what they perceive others think of them.
That’s no problem for some. You can be driven to become rich, beautiful, and feel fine when motivated by your thoughts about how others see you, especially when people imagine that others see them positively.
But, when the perceived judgement is harsh or overriding of the self, often problems can occur, frequently in the triad of Love/Sex/Trust.
Do you ever encounter scenarios similar to these:
Feeling bored or mechanical when having sex, or like you are “performing.”
Being told by your partner that you are not “present,” a bad listener or not paying attention.
Avoiding your partner when you feel self doubt and end up feeling less close to him/her.
In these scenarios punctuated by a lack of tuning in, a treadmill effect can occur, fueled by the constant need for other’s feedback and avoiding rejection. As the positive self concept fades, the self doubt returns, needing another infusion. This takes the attention away from the moment and pleasure in the other person, and refocuses it back onto the quest for self assurance.
Do you find yourself on this treadmill? Would you like to get off?
Becoming a mature adult encourages us to leave all of this behind. Tuning in to the other moves us away from a self-oriented perspective into seeing the other as a unique, separate individual. Tuning into the other means you aren’t scanning them, with the primary focus on yourself, you are committing to the moment, as you bear witness.
Once this happens, your eyes can really see. You can really notice and appreciate:
Your lover’s sparkle when speaking about something he/she is proud of.
Your friend’s open smile when he/she gives you a gift.
Your child’s shyness when he/she feel apprehensive about doing something new.***
Turn On. (Self)
What happens when you find the song you love on the radio and you’ve tuned in? Do you naturally turn up the volume? Or, to use the terminology of every 70’s Southern Rock song that defined my age group/generation, “Do you want to crank it up?”
Do you recognize this feeling?
Being turned on to the self is similar. As you have tuned in, you can now recognize the excitement about who you are and how you are feeling. Instead of being in a protected state of mind, you are in an expressive mode. Feeling the energy that comes from enjoying your authentic self free of self-criticism, worry and/or judgement.
Can you recall a time when you have felt this way? Can you imagine this feeling?
Do you have any memories of a time in life, maybe even as a kid, when you were totally absorbed in an enjoyable activity? The activity that wasn’t for a grade or to impress another, but strictly because you just wanted to do it. You had the freedom to both conjure it up and participate with no judgement from others?
Anything come to you? How long ago was it?
One scene for me is around ages 7-9. There was lots of construction in my neighborhood so I played with scrap materials. I spent hours in my backyard “mud kitchen.” I remember feeling peace, love and excitement as I visited with my yellow lab, Brutus, lost in my imagination and barefoot in the natural world, my hands occupied with literal mud, fueling so many of my senses. I was in the moment of enjoying myself, being “turned on” rather than being self-conscious and/or evaluative of what I was doing.
More recently, the same feelings were conjured during a very different scenario during a shoe shopping/lunch date with a best friend. I love my friend, love shoes, love to eat and love the sun, which were all highlights that day. Because I was “tuned in,” I was able to really enjoy seeing my friends pretty face, could really taste the delicious food, feel the sun and appreciate all those lovely shoes (of which I’m a sucker for). I was in the moment of each sensing experience, turned on to the peace, love and excitement of all of it.***
What happens if no scenes come to your mind?
Sometimes people have little or no experience with this turned on feeling. The experiences and subsequent memories are clouded with other’s involvement or a worry of some kind. These clouds distract, leading people to tune out, distancing further away from their feelings and their sensing world. There just isn’t enough freedom to really be in the moment and instead the person stays protected. So, the experience doesn’t become an exciting “turn on,” instead it is diluted.
Do you feel resistant to the idea of being turned on to your self?
Being turned on to the self has a negative connotation to some. Maybe it sounds too hippie, narcissistic, unnecessary, or just wrong? I completely disagree. In fact, you can’t really be open to others unless you can access excitement about yourself. The idea is truly very simple. Being turned on simply means that after you recognize what’s happening inside, you are excited about it. The freedom from no longer living in a defensive mode blocking out self doubt, self judgement and possible rejection, creates an open space inside. This open space invites you to both notice and really enjoy the uniqueness of yourself. ***
Turn On (Other)
The phrase “turn on” is also, of course, associated with sexual energy. “Turn ons” are the elements of attraction that signal a pleasurable sexual response. In my personal scenarios, as a 7 year old being turned on to myself had no sexual quality, but the great day I described as an adult did have some sexual/sensual elements. I was absorbed in so much sensing experiences I was relaxed and happy. Then the high heels elicited the sexual excitement. I love heels and feel beautiful when I wear them. For others, the turn on might be when they are in their favorite ripped jeans or yoga pants, or for others, seeing a bare chested man with great abs holding a baby. Long hair, short hair, blue eyes, green eyes, bald men, curvy figures, convertibles, foreign accents, athleticism, the list of what is a turn on sexually is limitless and very personalized. Again, it’s creative.
The power of the turn on is that it invites energy flow with others. It’s a call and response dance and the energy is palpable if you are noticing. Do you recognize this scenario? Person A notices Person B. Within seconds, Person A subconsciously has reviewed Person B and notices the shoulder to hip to waist ratio, the hair color, the height, and the dress. The quick favorable appraisal has been made and the body has responded. Person A acts on this information and catches the attention of Person B. Person B, now checks out Person A, subconsciously encoding a range of information and their body responds. Person A can feel this positive appraisal, which intensifies the reaction. Person B senses this favorable response, which intensifies their positive reaction in turn.
See how this can get exciting?
Of course, the scenarios aren’t always favorable. Sometimes people are completely blocking the dynamic because they aren’t tuned in at all, assume negative interpretations or are simply confused by it all. But, the turned on/attraction dance, which is a normal, primitive aspect of our sexuality happen constantly as people interact with others in their world.
Does this make you uncomfortable?
So often in our culture, people start to define their self identity and sense of sexual worth by this exchange. If an “other” found them attractive. The emphasis on being sexy or attractive to the other is such a dominant mode in our capitalistic culture. Perfume, clothes, food, anything really, can be sold if it holds the promise that it will make us more attractive. If it will allow us to “turn on” someone else.
I’m all for feeling sexy and attractive, but using the other as a starting point to define one’s self is full of problems. When someone is tuned in around the quest to be the ideal object for someone else’s attraction, such as “Do you think she will think this is sexy” or “Will he like me more if I do/say/act in a certain way” turns people away from their authenticity and their own intuition. Sexuality can then become more of a performance. When we are in performance relationships, feelings can get confusing, exciting sex can quickly run out of steam, integrity can be lacking or the bond just stays superficial.***
Do any of these scenarios resonate with you?
The guy who acts like he doesn’t care what women think about him, acting non-committal and bravado, but calls all the time.
The girl who is so expressive in her looks but shows no real personality in conversation.
The man who peppers the conversation with sarcastic or self deprecating comments whenever deeper connections can be made.
The woman who looks super sexy but doesn’t feel much actual sexual desire.
The long term couple who spent hundreds of dollars getting each other presents, but then feel annoyed and aren’t sure why.***
At the very beginning, when people start with a protection frame of mind and/or are over oriented as to what turns on another, the relational foundation is weakened. The dance of attraction can become a game, focused on seduction with selfish motives, designed to bolster one’s own ego, sometimes at the cost of the other.
If the relationship continues, it often feels the strain of pressure as the “other” person is relied on as the main source of information about the other’s appeal/attractiveness. This focus on the other dilutes the good feelings that each could be getting naturally in the relationship. The natural call and response dynamic of being turned on gets jammed up.
The key is to being a turn on to others isn’t too overly focus on what they want. Not in a game way. But, instead, the focus is to know yourself, like what you see and activate or share it with others. Turning on then becomes activating a creative presentation of your self.
This is why I conceptualized the Tune in. Turn on. Next level. I think this order of steps works well. It’s a simple blueprint that will help bring about better Sex/Love/Trust in your life.Make sense?***
Once all that foundation is in place, you can really enjoy the creativity and power of sharing your energy to turn on an other. You can also really enjoy the feelings generated by when you are turned on by someone else.
When two people are coming from the perspective of being tuned in and turned on, the whole relationship is different. Each person is radiating from the inside out and then the energy is going back and forth. The energy supply won’t as easily run out because each person is generating their own and inspiring the other. It’s a call and response pattern they can intuitively get to know, experiment and play with and bring out anytime. That’s exciting and creative. I think that’s the Sex-Love-Trust that people are craving.