Hello, my loves! I am so thrilled to get to share a portion of the interview I did recently with Sana Akhand on her incredible podcast, Thriving in Love!
I said at the very beginning that I knew it was going to be a truly juicy conversation…and as usual, my intuition didn’t steer me wrong. We talked about my mission, the “why” behind it, what happens when women are acting in their wounded masculine energy, and so much more I can’t fit it all in one blog post.
So I’m gonna share the basics, but if you want to get the full serving, head over and listen to Episode 122 of Unf*ck Your Relationships on your favorite podcasting platform. It is DRIPPING in goodness. (And hey, while you’re there…if you could do be a favor and drop a rate/review, that would be fucking amazing.)
Let’s get into it!
Sana: Welcome, Michelle! I’m so excited that you’re here.
Michelle: Thank you so much! I’m so excited to be here.
Sana: So, I actually found you when I was starting my podcast. I was doing some research on relationship content, and I came across you. I feel like you have a really incredible mission here on earth, and I would love for you to share that with us!
Michelle: So, in general, I refer to myself as an intimacy coach. And the reason I call myself an intimacy coach is because I want women to have intimacy with themselves first and foremost. So I would say my mission is to help women reconnect to themselves so they can experience real intimacy with men.
That’s the main thing, but I don’t only work with women pursuing relationships with men. I also have queer women come to me, and I’ve had men reach out, so it has evolved into something way bigger than I possibly thought it could be.
Still, at its core, my mission is connecting women back to themselves. They can then have the relationship that they want, the businesses they want, the money that they want…basically anything they want. But when you work with me, we always start with reconnecting you back to yourself, because if you’re not connected with yourself, like, what the fuck do you have?
Sana: So, here’s another question: when you have clients that come to you, do you feel like they usually come to you at their rock-bottom moment? Or are they just curious and looking to have something different in their life?
Michelle: I don’t think curiosity is enough, honestly. The majority of the time, a lot of women are coming to me from deep pain. Usually they’ve gone through a breakup, or their marriage isn’t working, or they’re at a point where they’ve been single for eight years and they still have no fucking idea who they are.
So, there is often an element of pain. And sometimes it is the opposite, where things are good and they want more, but it’s more than a curiosity. It’s a hunger. It’s a knowing of, “There’s something so much bigger for me. How do I go from good to extraordinary?”
Sana: That’s so fascinating, because for me, I had that kind of moment where I knew that there was more.
My marriage was fine—it was great, even—but there was still that feeling.
My husband and I actually chose to live in our own apartments in New York when I went on my spiritual journey, and that’s what cracked me open. All my trauma and wounds came out, and I hit that rock-bottom pain moment of, “Oh shit, the reason I’m having all of these blocks in my career, in my relationships, in my friendships, in my everything is because I’ve had all of these wounds that I have been masking with my great relationship with my husband.
Once I lived in my own apartment, the universe was like, “Okay, I got you all to myself. Let’s open up the book of your past.”
Michelle: I love that you shared that, because for some people, that’s what it’s going to look like. Sometimes the relationship is masking all of your shit, and once you’re alone, then the floodgates open. Whereas for me, I was the opposite; when I was alone, I thought I was fucking Gucci. Every time I was single, I would go, “I think I’ve healed all my relationship stuff,” and then I would get into a relationship and be triggered.
Sana: So, let’s back up to what you said about connecting to yourself first. This makes a lot of sense to me, because when I was trying to have the success and the impact that I felt like I was here to have, I was so completely disconnected from my body that it felt like I was trying to put a Band-Aid on a much deeper wound. And then when I started to do that work of reconnecting, everything fell into place.
It’s like shifting from that wounded masculine energy of trying to do it all to finally surrendering into just…taking a fucking break from everything to listen to what our bodies are trying to tell us.
Michelle: Yes, for sure. I’m actually coming out with a course called Awakening Her, which is all about tapping into your feminine and living a feminine life.
As I was writing about why women don’t actually stop and tune back in to what their body is saying, I realized that most of them come to the conclusion that they’re operating in their masculine energy…but they don’t realize that it’s not even healthy masculine energy. They’re living in wounded masculine energy.
When you’re living in your wounded masculine energy, you’ll find yourself needing to control everything and being disconnected from yourself and constantly living in the mind. It’s not the healthy masculine energy of purpose, mission, goal-oriented thinking, presence, silence, stillness…all of those things.
So when women are looking at moving into their feminine and out of this unhealthy masculine energy, it’s actually not about doing this pendulum swing from the constant hustle of masculine energy to living a “feminine life” wherein you’re doing absolutely nothing.
If you abandon masculine energy entirely, you’re going to end up wondering why your fucking finances have gone to shit and everything’s stopped working. You don’t want to go from one extreme to the other; you need the integration of both masculine energy and feminine energy.
Sana: So I know you in your content, you’ve talked about how you used to be hyper-independent. How did you come out of that when you got into your relationship with Drew? A lot of my clients are struggling with being avoidant, likely because of the feminist culture these days that revolves around, “I don’t need a man. I can do everything on my own.” How do you soften that without going too far to the other side and losing yourself?
Michelle: The thing is, you’re not going to change anything until you recognize what the payoff is.
Once I broke down everything, it came down to safety. I felt safest being by myself, because I had a lot of beliefs around, “No one’s going to look after me. I can’t rely on anybody. People are always going to disappoint me.” Which, with those beliefs, I really just continued to perpetuate constant disappointment. No one could ever do anything right.
So firstly, it started with cultivating my own masculine energy. Not wounded masculine energy, but healthy, mature masculine energy where I could create safety for myself. I could validate my own feelings.
Now, this wasn’t about that bullshit narrative in the personal development industry that you should be able to meet one hundred percent of your own needs all of the time. That’s not a relationship. Sometimes we do need the other person to give us some reassurance or validation, but we also need to be able to cultivate that ability within ourselves.
I had to learn to be soft with myself when I would make a mistake, not berate myself for it. If I was having, God forbid, a feeling, I would validate that feeling for myself rather than ignoring it or shaming myself for feeling it.
So it was about my own work first. And then with Drew, I had to share with him that this is a thing for me, and I need him to lovingly call me forward when I’m acting that way.
Still, this doesn’t mean we totally lose our independence, right? For instance, Drew and I have separate bedrooms, and people are so shocked by that. They think it means we’re on the verge of breaking up.
Sana: Girl, when people found out my husband and I live in separate apartments, that shit went viral. I had people messaging me and saying that I wasn’t allowed to say I was married if I wasn’t living with my husband. People say I’m a horrible wife for abandoning my husband and making him cook and clean for himself.
Sana: On top of all that, everybody also thinks he’s going to cheat just because we don’t live together.
Michelle: Why would you want to be in a marriage where the only way they’re not going to cheat is because you’re living with them and hovering over them and watching their every move?
Sana: People don’t realize that it is a false sense of control. Like…hello, how many people cheat while literally living together and doing everything together? It happens all the time.
And if you don’t have the kind of trust that allows you and your partner the ability to give each other freedom and independence in your relationship, maybe do the work to figure out what’s blocking you from that.
Michelle: I love what Esther Perel says about trust. I’m going to paraphrase here, but she basically says, “Trust isn’t the idea that we will never hurt each other. Trust is the idea that we will hurt each other, but we will always make the effort to repair.” And I love that, because so many people think that trust means knowing that someone will never hurt you. They think it means certainty and reliability, always.
That’s not real life. That’s not true love.
Most people don’t want true love. Most people actually want a certain love. They want to be certain they’ll never get left. They want to be certain they’ll never get cheated on. They want to be certain they’ll never be hurt in any way.
You can’t guarantee that. You just can’t. You can make all the vows in the world, but humans are human, and you’re going to be hurt.
Your partner is going to say something unintentionally that hurts your feelings. They’ll look at you the wrong way. They’ll use the wrong tone.
There is nothing certain about true love…not even the person you’re in love with. So do you want actual true love? Because to be in a long-term relationship is to attend a thousand funerals of that person.
Are you going to just leave them in the casket…or are you going to help them be reborn and grow with them?
I’m so thrilled I got to sit down with Sana and talk about so many different things…and this is just the appetizer, loves. Hop over to the Unf*ck Your Relationships podcast to get the main course!
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Listen to the full interview with Sana: https://michellepanning.com/blog/
Instagram, Sana Akhand: https://www.instagram.com/sanaakhand/
Instagram, Thriving in Love: https://www.instagram.com/thrivinginlovepod/
I get it, girl. I’ve been there too. For years, I was going through the same experiences with men over and over again that left me feeling confused, anxious and pissed off.
I silenced myself in dating and relationships because I was terrified of being judged, rejected and abandoned. It all changed when I went through a break-up and thought “enough is enough. I cannot continue to repeat the same relationships with different men! Something HAS to change!”