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Oh, Behave: Elise Loehnen on Owning Being Yourself

In her new book, On Our Weightier Behavior, Elise Loehnen doesn’t just shift the patriarchal paradigm, she shatters it. She transforms concepts from the Seven Deadly Sins into calls to whoopee so that women can identify and own what they truly want to undeniability into their lives. Recently, Elise sat lanugo with Wanderlust to reflect on the tightly personal work required to unravel this cycle, and what stuff on her weightier policies ways to her now.

Wanderlust: You uncork the typesetting with a concept of people having a first and second nature, where who we are at our cadre can be at odds with how society informs that identity. In the installment on pride, you discuss the “true self” versus the “illusion self.” You write, “We need to surrender to who we are and not who we think we should be.” How have you surrendered to who you are in your own life? How do you let your true self shine?

Elise Loehnen: Through a lot of introspection and intervention—I’ve found that I’ve had to interrupt my own thinking, then and again, well-nigh who I am and how I’m supposed to behave. These voices in our throne are insistent and loud. The unconfined thing that I’ve observed as increasingly and increasingly people have read wide copies of the typesetting pre-pub is that once women start talking to each other well-nigh these concepts, it becomes much easier to identify them. This is tightly personal work, but it’s moreover work we need to do in community. The increasingly I speak to other women well-nigh their anger, their envy, their gluttony, the increasingly conscious and enlightened we all seem to become.

WL: In the installment where you write sloth, you show how imperative it is for both our persons and minds to have rest, pointing out that the conscious smart-ass can process sixty shit per second, while the unconscious smart-ass can process 11 million shit per second! What kinds of changes did you make when it comes to embracing rest? Where did you see the most improvements?

EL: It’s honestly been scary to embrace rest. I have unliable myself to watch increasingly TV and take increasingly naps in the last six months than I have in my whole life. I need rest. I am deeply, profoundly tired. But here’s the thing: the unvarying grind and busyness was killing me, literally bringing me to my knees. I couldn’t alimony pushing in that same way. In this period of rest—deep rest—I’ve had to wrestle with all the fear it stokes well-nigh whether I’ll overly be worldly-wise to “produce” at the same rate as before. I worry I’ve lost my drive. But in that process, I recognize that what I’ve tabbed “drive” has really been a cattle prod of fear. And so, resisting this feels like an essential gate for me to walk through—to not say yes to every paying offer, to not rush to fill my days with things to-do. I finger tropical to stuff refreshed, tropical to stuff worldly-wise to re-engage. But hopefully not at the same pace.

photo by Vanessa Tierney

WL: You requite the reader a very well-constructed picture—historical and religious context, scientific research, personal accounts, and current data—to show how tightly these codes of self-mastery permeate our lives. What findings surprised you most in your research for this book?

EL: Honestly, that the Seven Deadly Sins weren’t plane in the Bible. That floored me, as I think most of us seem they are religious law, or that Jesus must have said them at some point. Nope! They’re the perfect example of how religion has wilt culture, how these things are passed lanugo from generation to generation.

WL: What does stuff on your weightier policies midpoint to you now? Of the Seven Deadly Sins, which were easy to strip away, and which were hardest to let go?

EL: On my weightier policies now ways stuff myself, plane if that’s uncomfortable for other people or requires some shape-shifting within my family. I think Sloth is still the most insistent for me—this urge to be a “good mother” is intense. What I’ve found though, is that as I’ve moved past my instinct to do all the things for all the people, as I’ve put stuff down, my husband Rob has moved in to take over some of these duties. It’s interesting to see how our energy changes as roles and rules start to shift plane without unquestionably saying anything at all. If I don’t return the fieldtrip permission slip in the first ten minutes, and allow, gasp, HOURS, or plane a day to pass, ROB DOES IT.

Honestly, they’ve all required a lot of work. I think Green-eyed was the easiest for me to integrate—probably followed by Gluttony, considering I’m just vitally tired of policing myself well-nigh food.

WL: Each installment is a radical act of reclaiming one’s space as an act of self-love. When talking well-nigh envy, you write the scarcity mentality that blocks us from actualizing our dreams. Instead of thinking “it’s her or me”, you shift it to “she has it, so I can have it too.” How important is it for us to make this shift?

EL: I think if there’s ONE THING that women get from this book, it’s this: Identify, diagnose, and own our wanting. We must then move past the fear of scarcity, the idea that only one of us, maybe two of us, can do the thing. Right now, we’re programmed to believe that if someone is doing what we want to be doing, we must dethrone her, that there’s not room for all of us. It is resulting and insidious and is the understructure of our instinct to bat each other lanugo or dismiss each other with statements like: “I just don’t like her,” “Who does she think she is?” and “She’s gotten too big for her britches.”

If we can stop policing each other’s self-expression and “bigness,” I think we can lean into our own. We’re at a point in time where it is essential that we all bring our gifts to bear

Cameron Joy Machell is a writer and journalist tent yoga, travel, and wellness. Always planning her next adventure, she has chased the Northern Lights wideness Iceland, camped under the stars in the Sahara Desert, and sipped kava with chiefs in Fiji. When she’s not traveling, you can find her at home in New England, in the garden or on her mat.