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If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.


Yo lady.

Who are you when it comes to stating your truth?
Your deep true truth.

Are you a she wolf? Proudly howling your truth out loud?
A mad dog? Rage first, talk later?
A wolf in sheep’s clothing? Smile on face, secret knife pointed towards the belly?
The silence of the lambs? You simply can’t say. Don’t know. Lost your compass.

As a mom of a teenage girl, I have a big interest in this question.
How can we navigate the world with confidence if we can’t find our truth?

Peggy Orenstein recently published her new book, Girls and Sex, Navigating the Complicated New Landscape. Part of her research won’t be news to us, disturbing as it may be. She reports that half the girls are participating in oral sex, sexting, and nonconsensual sex with boys in order to please the boys, in hopes that the boys will like them. Not because they want to. 

Orenstein says that young women are given no encouragement to understand their bodies, let alone their desires, and instead they grow up to understand sex as an act that is about pleasing others—rather than pleasuring themselves. 

Women. The portal to life. The sacred entry point of human life on this planet.
Reduced to a convenience store, a service station.

A woman’s deeply seated confidence cannot come from how many degrees she has, what kind of job she has landed or how well she is conforming to society’s expectations of her.

A girl’s—a woman’s—sense of confidence comes from how she feels in her body.
And how she feels about her body is, in part, a legacy, passed mother to daughter.
Which only works well when her mother thinks she is glorious, delicious and wondrous.
Which is an exceedingly rare perspective for a mama to have and to hold in this patriarchal world.

And the other part to her confidence comes from her learning to know and love her own instrument. Which is super hard in a world where women learn how to compromise before they learn to come.  

The generosity of woman is boundless. It’s our innate nature to fiercely create, care-take, love, embrace, appreciate.

But our custom has been to do all this caretaking from an empty well, rather than from a gloriously full tank. Filled with our dreams and desires prioritized and nurtured. Filled with a body that is known and loved and revered.

I’m interested in how this pattern influences our ability – or inability – to know and speak our truth. 

I notice that many of us, when faced with a decision or a moment of choice – whether it be a job, a blow job, a date, an invitation – we often take our attention off ourselves and we put it on other people, or on societal expectations, and whether we will please them, or disappoint them.
What will he think of me? Will they approve of me? Will I be accepted?
And we bypass our deepest truth without even noticing.

What we don’t know is that our deepest truth is something that not only we require, but the world requires. When we use our truth to make decisions, they become decisions that not only take us higher, but take everyone in our world higher. And when we bypass our truth, we take everyone down with us. 

One of Ornstein’s proposed solutions is for us to all move to the Netherlands. Dutch parents, teachers and kids talk about sex, condoms, pleasure and how to say yes and no. Which is so good to know that somewhere in this world, progress is being made.
But how can each of us make progress, right now?

How can we, right here, right now, step more powerfully into our hell yes or hell no?
The first step is the same step as when you want to uplevel your workouts, or change your eating habits, or start dating. Tell everyone. Letting people know that you are on a growth spurt helps to make it real.

I challenge you to experiment with a commitment to your own truth. 

Here are a few tips to help: 

1. Tell all your friends and fam that you want to try to locate your inner truth more consistently and that you are going to ask for their help with that. (You don’t need to know how you are going to do it, you just need to declare that you want to.)

2. Tell your pals, family and co-workers that from here, forward, every time they make a request of you, you are not going to answer them in that conversation. Rather, you are going to practice checking in with yourself, and you are going to count to 10, or take a short break before you answer them. This requires bravery and patience on your part.

3. Then, you are going to head to the nearest private space to connect. Get in a few deep breaths. Place your hand on your heart, on your pussy, on your belly. Feel. Really just stop the train for a few seconds. And ask – feel – what is my deepest truth? 

We, as women are so accustomed to pleasing others, folding on our desires, compromising ourselves, taking it for the team, putting our families first, that we don’t give ourselves time to sink into the divinity of our own truth and experience the enlightenment from within. 

It might be hard to hear much of anything at first, but I promise you, the more you do this, the more information you’ll get. It’s all in there.  

A faint whisper turns into a dialogue, which turns into the greatest collaboration of your life—you and your higher power, working together as a team, to stand for your value, each and every day.  Rather than sidestepping your value. Or diminishing your value. 

And by standing for your truth in this gentle yet powerful way, you are standing for a world of women and girls, to stand for theirs.

In the comments below, let’s collaborate and learn together.

  • Where is the easiest place for you to hear your deepest truth? With your friends? Family? With strangers?
  • Where is the most difficult place for you to check in and listen to what you truly long to say? At work? With your husband? Kids? New lover?
  • What’s your edge? Where do want to find a way to step into a truth you have been sitting on?
  • And how does it make you feel when you witness a woman stepping bravely into her power? Can you tell when she’s holding back? Can you tell when you are holding back?

For the girls of today, the women of tomorrow – it starts with you. In this culture, a commitment to your own truth is a revolutionary act.

Mama Gena

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20 Comments / Leave a Comment

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  • Hanaan April 11, 2016, 10:50 pm

    Wow! I needed to hear this and think about it, as the mom of a teenage girl and as an example to that teenage girl. I’m proud of myself for eventually finding my voice in my last relationship which ended a few months ago but I was so shocked at how hard it was to speak my truth! I pushed through partially because of my daughter and others in my family and community but if you had asked me if I was past the doubt and the disconnect before this relationship I would have said yes. That kind of scares me and lets me know there is much work to be done in order for me to claim my happy ever with a man. Thanks for teaching and insight Mama.

  • Mindy Santo April 11, 2016, 1:32 pm

    Mama Gena,
    This post is so powerful, thank you for sharing with us and I hope we all pay it forward and share with other women young and old. I think about what’s happening in my life right now, and decisions I’ve made along the way when they’re a hell yes it’s right there in my sweet spot. When it’s a no, I turn the other way.
    Thankfully I’ve got maturity on my side, however many young women looking for their version of love or whatever it is, do not.
    Please only allow if it is a HELL YES, it feels so good when it is!

  • Gianna April 7, 2016, 10:42 am

    One of your TOP best writings!!

  • Cintra April 7, 2016, 4:58 am

    Thanks for this post now.
    For me this is the most important subject of this time and of my own life.

    This night I realized I couldn’t feel compassion for a family member.
    I was surprised since I have become a very loving and compassionate person after doing tuns of inner truth connecting and expressing it out in the family and my closest friends. I started thinking I should feel compassion for this person and then realized, hell no! I can’t feel compassion for that person until I love myself and feel compassion with myself in that person’s company. I realized that I had gone into the old pattern of pleasing this person instead of checking in with me first!!!! Easily done with close family members. Good that I could see it. First I was really upset with myself almost criticising me for falling in to that old pattern again but then when I realized what my teaching was it felt better and I could feel more compassionate with me again.

    So for the future, my learning is to feel loving and compassionate with me when together with this person and if my love overflows to me it might flow over to the other person or not. It doesn’t matter. The most important is that I am there for me!!! Thanks for posting this now. It sure helps keeping me going on this important and necessary path! It also sure helps knowing we are many sisters that are doing this necessary work. We are in it together and every single step counts!

  • Marisa Bettina April 7, 2016, 1:17 am

    The hardest place for me to speak my truth is with my family. I do not feel safe with them, emotionally because I feel like they are constantly emotionally blackmailing me instead of supporting & being empathetic with me, my honesty & my feelings . It’s been a hell of a workout standing in my truth & standing up to them, for myself, for what’s right. But I do it anyway because shrinking or folding wouldn’t fill me at all, not my style. I’ve heard that after you begin to speak your truth with your loved ones & those around you, their reactions can become worse but eventually they’ll either get with the program or fade away. So I’m just in the process of sticking to what feels right to me because I know it the second it hits me if something isn’t right & I just have to say. Sorry NOT sorry xxxooo

  • SG Mirella Love April 6, 2016, 12:58 am

    wow. great. I started saying No with pleasure and freedom since SWA, BUT still long way to go. ‘Society, husband’ it all says.. keep quiet, not your business, give it time…. Still building strength to with stand that and stand for my Truth, my sisters, womanhood.
    On the Dutch, that’s fucking bullshit. I have not experienced it myself, nor see it happening to my your nieces in the netherlands, nor see it with others there. Little more openness maybe but nothing that comes remotely close to what I’m giving to my daughter at age of 6 concerning body love, body awareness, saying no and more. Sorry but moving to the Netherlands is not gonna help…

  • Mercedes April 5, 2016, 1:28 pm

    Oh Thank you Mama Gena for this great and important remainder !!!
    ….. to follow that inner and deep guidance is what makes life authentic, real and exciting!
    I am right now in the midst of making a decision…. and part of me is saying yes ,,, and the other part … not really…. and not sure . We are complicated beings, nest pas? I am checking in and will be asking some strong questions to myself …. and I will then decide if this decision will lead to my highest purpose, pleasure, fun, adventure and learning. Honoring and loving myself first … I will now place complete attention on my divine inner guidance .
    Blessings of Love to you, your daughter, your mama and all the women whose lives you touch so deeply

  • Ann April 5, 2016, 11:42 am

    After being a doormat for years, I finally left my verbally abusive and emotionally controlling husband. I’m now living in France. I’m dating and hooking up like crazy and totally enjoying myself! I’m practicing not being a people pleaser. I just told one man I don’t want to see him again. And it felt great to be honest and own my Power. We didn’t have that great of a connection. And he kept wanting me to send him pics of various parts of my anatomy “for fun” he says. Well, maybe I’m not up with the times, but I’m not comfortable doing that. And I told him so. But he kept pestering me to do it anyway. I finally came to my senses and told him I don’t want to see him anymore and why. I told him he didn’t respect me, even though we were just seeing each other for fun. If you don’t respect me, you don’t deserve my time and attention. It felt really great for me to respect myself!! A major milestone for me:)

    • Ali May 30, 2016, 2:56 am

      Awesome Ann!! As a former doormat myself, I tip my hat to you.

  • Katie April 5, 2016, 11:36 am

    The easiest place to tune into my truth is when I am quiet and alone. When out in the world it is connecting to my sensory system / feelings in my body and allowing my intuition to interpret them…this is usually in smaller settings with people…harder with family of origin than with friends and my own family.

    Where is my edge is a good question – I think speaking up in a crowd when everyone desperately wants to be heard and they are all fighting to speak. I don’t tend to join the fight – unless it is something I am very passionate about and what I have to say has not yet been spoken. In general I don’t hesitate to speak up sosometimes my edge is learning to observe and listen and let that reflection work me.

  • Myke Kofi April 5, 2016, 11:15 am

    Thanks Mama Gena! Regularly checking our personal truths is so vital in these turbulent times.

  • Sister Goddess Amber Romance April 5, 2016, 11:01 am

    I find that since taking Mama Gena’s Boot Camp classes and doing my own inner work, I set boundaries and state what those boundaries are . I do this in a clear and powerful, yet (nice) way. Yes, I have discovered how to combine all three – clarity, power, and compassion when I speak. This feels wonderful.

  • Jill Martin April 5, 2016, 10:49 am

    Another genius post Mama, and one that resonates deeply.
    Since that moment in Mastery 2012 when Cheryl Richardson said “you will never live a soul-filled life until you master the art of saying No and allowing other people to be disappointed and not like you”, I knew that that was the core of my work. Of course, you introduced the “if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no” to us as well. And I have been working on Owning my Yes and No ever since!
    4 years later, I can honestly say that I’ve made GREAT STRIDES in this area, with listening within and standing for my truth. I basically did as you say above – I inserted a pause before I committed to things, to check in with myself. I had to lean into my discomfort…A LOT.
    On my last birthday I boldly claimed “I desire to be done with guilt, shame and obligation”… so of course the universe perked up and said “oh yeah, let’s see if you really mean it” and threw me some curveballs to test me. I passed the test. I went through the fire, saying Yes to myself and my needs in the face of really disappointing some major people in my life. And guess what? they still love me, lol.
    and more importantly, I feel freer than I ever have. Without so much mental clutter of the shoulds and worrying about others, I am now focusing, and conjuring my desires at a much greater speed! It’s truly been a game changer.
    and…of course there are still areas that need work, lol. I am still that teenage girl (adorably trapped inside a middle aged woman’s body) who you describe above, the one who loses her connection to herself around men and starts focusing on pleasing them as soon as they get in her bed…or even in my house 🙂
    Your brilliant teachings got me focused on Receiving. and so my growing edge is to stay in my body with men, to breathe, to pause, to ask ‘what would please me now’ and to open my mouth and ASK for things. And to sit in my discomfort around asking and receiving. And hopefully one day start having EMOs 😉
    Thank you for this post. It is a great moment to celebrate how far I’ve come and to give words to where I am on the journey.
    Love and miss you!
    Jill is Magic, now JamStar 😉

    • Jeanette April 5, 2016, 12:54 pm

      I love how you took the time to carefully feel into this answer and hit send with such a gorgeous flourish of rightness for your pleasure.
      It’s sooo wonderful hearing that you’re doing well, Mastery 2012 Sister.

  • Toni April 5, 2016, 10:44 am

    I can be strong and assertive as hell at work, in friendships, with family, but in my love relationship, I’m a wilted flower. I’m struggling to overcome a long held belief that I am not worthy of love, generosity, ATTENTION unless I give up my voice. And I hate it. But I WILL get there…thanks for this.

    • Agota April 5, 2016, 11:44 am

      Toni, I have similar feelings in the way that I am a highly successful business person. Now I have been building my own green field headquarter for my globalized enterprise. I have brought up two children as a single mother and I build a house for my family. And now I can not find a romantic partner. The thing is I have my own self esteem. I am a horseback riding person as Mama Gena which helps a lot keeping myself fit. I look great, I am madly love myself and I have not find a partner for 7 years. What do you think?

      • Vicki April 6, 2016, 6:31 am

        Just a thought – what do you think that it just might be – you are so very strong, capable and successful – that the men in your target just might be frightened? You sound completely powerful! Many men do, indeed, love a powerful woman, but, some are afraid of rejection themselves, or for some reason don’t make the approach. I have been in a similar state. I can say from personal experience, that once I focused, really focused on loving myself, treating myself as a beauty, that’s when men who liked a powerful type of woman, revealed themselves to me. And I have some great stories to tell about that!

      • Toni April 7, 2016, 9:15 am

        Being self-reliant is a great trait (otherwise, things won’t get taken care of) but it is so very easy to not see the way we shut off the flow of being cared for by others because we are so accustomed to ‘doing it ourselves’. That familiarity thing…. 🙂
        Men don’t want to compete with a woman – they want to care for her. The very thing that we have to do – be self-reliant and take care of business for the good of our families/selves – can sometimes come across as “What does she need me for?” I think this is what attracted me to Mama Gena’s page – needed to drop the armor for a while to let good things and relationships in!

  • Nikki Brown April 5, 2016, 10:44 am

    I’m owning my power because my community, my crew and my clique depend on me.

  • Kat Burns April 5, 2016, 10:29 am

    Yes. I’m doing it, today, now. Stepping into my power. I’ve felt it once or twice, lost it- I truly believe that nothing in this universe is ever really “lost.” Sometimes I just need a light, and maybe a little push, to see the way again. Thanks, Mama Gena, for being that light, that push. Love and gratitude.
    Kat, the Obsidian