i want to share with you everything i know and everything i am learning about my self-trust,

which of course, will be different than yours,

but perhaps some of my experience will resonate with yours.

I’m gonna use a bit of Dungeons & Dragons to help tell these stories, because it’s on the brain (it’s part of my graduate school research at the moment), and I find that it evokes a self-compassionate frame of reference toward myself.

my sweet Self-Trust

sits on a zafu cushion, a meditation cushion,

which is on a table, a long, beautiful wooden table,

in a limitless office filled with phones.

so, she is sitting in the middle, on top of this long, beautiful wooden table.

this is important

the weird specificity of this is important because it means that when I think about my Self-Trust,

i smile a little

seeing her there

calm and bright and goofy,

pointy, elven ears,

deft Monk hands folded neatly in her lap,

sitting on top of a table.


all day long, my Self-Trust fields phone calls from different parts of me:

Stay on high alert, says my Protector

Everything is falling apart, says my Catastrophizer

I’m failing at this, says my Critic

Work harder, and everything will be fine, says my Perfectionist.

and occasionally, a tiny knock is heard at the door,

the phones still ringing off the hook,

but into my Self-Trust’s presence walks Pleasure

and this wee little gnome sorcerer holds out her wee little hand

and a tiny glow emits from it.

This feels nice, says Pleasure.

and for a moment, the phone calls stop.

Self-Trust stands, and helps Pleasure to stand on the table with her

she cups her hands around the glowing light,

and it begins to grow brighter,

and brighter.

this process is sensitive

one jarring phone call, a loud, abrasive knock at the door,

and Pleasure snatches the light back and hides in the closet

waiting for the next right moment.

my Self-Trust works hard all day

to determine where to place her energy,

which phone calls to answer,

which parts of myself need comfort,

which need a vent,

which need redirection,

which need further investigation.

this can be a really impossible job.

Catastrophizer is extremely convincing,

and Protector always has good intentions, if not always the clearest vision.

Critic sounds like things I’ve heard out in the Real World,

so she typically seems reasonable, even if she’s not always the kindest.

and Perfectionist likes to show off her track record,

as if all the accomplishments I’ve had couldn’t have possible happened without her.

Pleasure is newer, so she gets scared off easily.

i have been really surprised to find

that Pleasure has got a light that,

if encouraged,

will shine brightly enough for Self-Trust to field her phone calls

with more clarity,

more kindness,

and less judgement.




Self-Trust seems to grow a little bit,

seems to get a bit taller,

when Pleasure has permission to play.

why IS that??

Pleasure says:

This shower is warm and feels good, and

That bite was yummy! and

This blanket is soft and

The light makes a pretty pattern on the walls and

Aren’t clean socks nice? and

I could be cozier if I just adjusted…ah! there, that’s cozy. and

Did I just smell jasmine? and

Laughing feels like popcorn popping and

This hug feels safe and

This conversation is tickling my brain in the best way! and

Ooh I feel pretty / sexy / dashing and

I like me. I like BEING me.

living in a treehouse somewhere in my brain

is another friend called Nonjudgement,

who sleeps most of the time

until i remember i can wake her up

to help my Self-Trust with all the phone calls

and encourage Pleasure to come out from hiding.

no one is really sure what she does, honestly.

she stands in the middle of the table with all the phones,

and she says, Those are phones.

Critic shouts over the line, Duh we know those are all phones!

and Nonjudgement says to Self-Trust, That’s The Critic.

and Critic gets weirdly quiet.

Perfectionist shouts on her phone, Ugh, just ignore her and get back to work.

and Nonjudgement says to Self-Trust, That’s The Perfectionist.

and Perfectionist gets weirdly quiet.

Catastrophizer groans on her phone, Oh my god I’m losing my miiiiiind

and Nonjudgement says to Self-Trust, That’s The Catastrophizer.

and Catastrophizer gets weirdly quiet.

Protector orders on her phone, Pack our bags, let’s leave, leaving would be easier

and Nonjudgement says to Self-Trust, That’s The Protector.

and Protector gets weirdly quiet.

Pleasure peeks out from under the table.

her gnome nose just barely reaches the table-top

as she slides her tiny glowing light into the center and says,

This feels nice.

and Nonjudgement says to Self-Trust, That’s Pleasure.

and as though those words were the incantation of a spell,

Pleasure’s light expands to fill the room once more.

Here’s where this idea came from. I just finished reading “Come As You Are” by Emily Nagoski. It should be on every person’s shelf when they reach an age where they’re ready to learn about pleasure, self-kindness, and sex. It’s a book about sex, yeah, but really it’s a book about pleasure and self-kindness. Emily says:

“This is a strange truth about nonjudgement. When you turn toward suffering with nonjudgement, the suffering diminishes as wounds heal. When you turn toward pleasure with nonjudgement, it expands to fill the space judgement once filled” (301).