This is One Way to Serve the World (and it’s not what you think)

by | Jan 3, 2021 | Anxiety, Sexuality | 19 comments

Our earth is calling on us to rise up, to be active, to do our part in making the world a better place. Perhaps our world has always asked this of us, but the call to serve seems more dire and poignant these days.

When we think of activism, we tend to think of the extroverted forms of direct political activism: picketing, protesting, writing and signing letters. These are excellent ways to serve, and I’m in awe of people who use their lives – especially those with a large platform – in this way.

But there are many ways to serve, and for those of us who aren’t called to the path of extroverted activism, we must find and validate the more subtle and less obvious ways that we contribute to the world’s healing. We must recognize the ways in which art, poetry, and inner work help heal the world. We must recognize that following one’s passion, even if it doesn’t seem to directly impact the planet, is a form of service. The comedians who keep us laughing, the magicians who spark amazement, the writers who help us make sense of our lives… these are essential forms of activism.

Inner work is also activism, especially when our private healing allows us to serve in more outward ways. When we think about Buddhist practitioners like the Dalai Lama or Thich Nhat Hanh we see that a devoted meditation practice invariably leads to more traditional activism for when we arrive at the inner heart of compassion we have no choice but to do everything we can to bring more compassion to the world. We do healing work not to stay stuck in our healing work but to eventually free up space to serve in the ways we can serve, which ultimately means bringing more love and joy to our world as friends, partners, parents, and through whatever work vessel we’ve chosen or landed in.

There is a sub-category of activism that receives less public attention, what Francis Weller calls “sacred activism”. When we learn how to have a relationship with grief, when we learn how to wrestle with fear and choose love, when we learn how to trust ourselves so that we can bring ourselves into the world we are engaging in sacred activism. This is much of what I teach through my work.

As Weller writes in The Wild Edge of Sorrow:

“It is grief, our sorrow that wets the hardened places within us, allowing them to open again and freeing us to once again feel our kinship with the world. This is deep activism, soul activism that actually encourages us to connect with the tears of the world. Grief is capable of keeping the edges of the heart pliable, flexible, fluid and open to the world and as such becomes a potent support for any form of activism we may intend to take.”

Along these lines, anything that opens our hearts and bodies, reduces shame, and realigns us with our birthright of creativity and aliveness is sacred activism. I include sacred sexuality in this category. Here’s why:

We have a tragically myopic view of sexuality in our culture. We think it’s about being naked and going through certain motions or techniques with another human being. As I’ve shared in many posts, we’re narrowly conditioned to think it’s about intercourse and orgasms. This isn’t true! Sacred sexuality is about reconnecting with the aliveness and creativity that simmer in the core of your being. It’s about shining the gems that may have gone dormant or dusty from growing up in a culture that seeks to dampen your fire and quell the sparks that are rightfully yours.

It’s no secret that the dominant patriarchal model has been threatened by women’s power for thousands of years (it’s part of the reason why we’re in the global the mess we’re in). The patriarchy – and this isn’t about gender; it’s a model that we’re all operating under – conditions us to tamp down not only on our true sexuality (not the image-based, pornographic kind) but also on our innate desire for LIFE. It squelches creativity and expects us to live under a pall of mediocrity.

We are meant for so much more than this. 


That’s why reclaiming your sexuality and sensuality, your aliveness and creativity, is part of reclaiming your power. And in this sense, it’s an act of rebellion and activism, for every time a woman rises up and says, “I am here and I deserve to be here with my entire being. I am alive and on fire! I create and I love fully. My body in every shape and form is a gorgeous miracle” – every time a woman steps into the fullness of her being and refuses to play it small, every time she reestablishes her birthright relationship with the Great Mother and the divine feminine, tapping into the energy current that pulses through her veins which is the same as the one that curves hills into hips and rounds her belly into moon, she takes back what has been stolen from her.

When you reclaim what is yours you are contributing to the turning of the tide, the wave we’re in right now that says, “The feminine in all genders will no longer stay silent. The feminine is here to roar and sing and create and speak and it will not back down.”


You are a part of this wave, and when you take the steps that help you reclaim your sexuality and aliveness, you contribute to the healing of the whole.

You were born to shine.

You were born to shimmer and dance and shimmy and be in love with your sacred, magnificent body.

You were born to soar to great heights, to express the gems that live in your womb, to cherish your blood and reestablish your relationship with the moon, who carries one secret to your desire and aliveness.

There is a roadmap that can help you reclaim this fire and aliveness, that can guide you gently into the forgotten and shame-ridden regions, that can help you re-spark the flint that longs to dance you into ecstasy. And I’m not only referring to sexual ecstasy here but also the ecstasy that stems from the joy of being fully in your body and alighting your inner fire, the one that reminds you of your creative gifts and your birthright for being here. The one radiates your voice in full song. This is the roadmap I teach in my Sacred Sexuality course, which starts live on January 9, 2021. I look forward to meeting you there.


Here are the dates/times for the group calls (the times are U.S. Eastern Standard Time). All calls will be recorded, so if you miss any you can listen to the recordings later.
Call 1: Tuesday January 12 at 5:10pm ET
Call 2: Thursday January 21 at 1:15pm ET
Call 3: Thursday January 28 at 3:30pm ET
Note: I very much value your comments as they pertain to each post, and I love interacting with my audience. However, if you’re struggling with relationship anxiety, I know it’s tempting to ask for reassurance or guidance, but unfortunately, I’m not able to offer advice in this format. I encourage you to read through this Collection, consider the Break Free From Relationship Anxiety course, and, as always, work with a skilled and loving therapist who can be a guide and witness for your healing. If you’re struggling with other anxiety themes, please see my book, The Wisdom of Anxiety, and read through my hundreds of free blog posts on a variety of topics. 



  1. Dear Sheryl,

    Sorry for commenting something unrelated to this one post, but there’s a question I have about an older blog post, the one about one expectation that ruins relationships, and I’m not sure if you get to read comments on old posts. Here’s what I wrote:

    “Hi, Sheryl!

    Reading your post makes me think about giving friendship to someone I was expecting to receive romantic love from. We talked and agreed a change of contract was needed, as the expectations were one-sided (my side). I still need to heal and let go of these fantasies of what I wanted it to be, but is it loving to myself to remain friends after that? I feel this resonates with your post as I feel I sent the message “If you’re not giving me what I want, then you’re getting nothing at all”. How to make sense of that and act lovingly towards myself and him?


    Many thanks!!!

  2. Sheryl-

    This is was a beautiful read. I swear you read my mind and send me the right blog post at the right time.

    I have an unrelated question. I have never had a relationship without anxiety. The current relationship I am is the one I want to work through, but I’m absolutely terrified that I’ve been working out of the fear that I’m not enough and over compensating my love so when I finally do work over my anxiety, there will be no more love since it wasn’t genuine in the first place. Does this make sense? Is this normal?

    Anything at all you have to say would be great, thank you!!

    • Hi Sheryl! Oh my goodness this is just what I needed. Just today (and often recently) I’ve been contemplating how I want to serve the world. This resonates so much. Thank you!

      • I’m so glad it hit the spot, Jamie!

    • It sounds like classic anxiety speaking, Julie. I encourage you to come back to the present moment and attend to what’s needed right now instead of trying to figure out what might or might not be true in the future.

  3. This is so unbelievably beautiful, urgent, radical and awe-inspiring. The passion! Such sacred work, following in the footsteps of such greats. I cannot wait for the webinar x

    • Thank you, Elizabeth. Sending you big hugs! x

  4. Sheryl:

    I’m sure this has been said many times before, but I’m going to say it again – You are truly an exquisite writer! – Frankly, I don’t think you give yourself enough credit for that 🙂

    Is the fantasizing of another person or “crush” count as an escape hatch or does it mean I don’t want to be with my partner? When I say fantasizing, I mean being excited by the thought of being in a relationship with them. Recently, I have been feeling numb to my partner – no in love feelings and it doesn’t feel like an intrusive thought.

    Any thoughts?


    • Thank you so much.

      And classic escape hatch :).

      • Thank you for the response.

        One more thing. There is almost zero anxiety AND my brain says, “if you don’t leave your current partner, you’ll miss out with the other person.”

        Is this still anxiety?

  5. Wow. This is exactly one of the things that I can’t stop asking myself and that got ignited again after I became an aunt a few months ago.

  6. Are you sure that you’re not a mind reader, Sheryl? What did you study in school to hit right on target every time… ;).

    I’ve been struggling a lot with anxiety lately around being a good person. Recently I was caught in a situation where I flirted with another woman. It was over text. Do I need to break up with my girlfriend? I feel awful. I don’t even feel deserving of having relationship anxiety since I did something bad.

    Thoughts? Comments?… Thank you once again!

  7. Sheryl,

    Is the intrusive thought, “what if I just like the idea of them” count as RA?


  8. Hi Sheryl,
    I love this post! Your work is amazing and has taught me so much so thank you. I love reading your blogs. However I do have 3 questions unrelated to this post (but all related to one topic).
    So my mind keeps telling me that at the beginning of my relationship (now been together 3 years) I wasn’t really ready for it as I was still hurt by my past relationship and I had unresolved feelings for my ex. I wasn’t still in love with him or anything but there was some feelings still there. I wasn’t completely over him. I started off speaking to my now partner as fun and it kind of just evolved into a relationship from there. I think at the time I was going along with things more at his pace than mine as I was younger and didn’t understand that I was able to say that I’d have liked things to slow down slightly (also because I couldn’t speak up with my ex). I also think that I wasn’t really as into it as him as he was me at the start because of what i’d been through prior I was trying to protect myself getting feelings and then being hurt again. My mind in the present day thinks that I may not have been ready for our relationship then. however, as time went on between us back then, my feelings for my ex went away and I realised how amazing my now partner is. He’s everything I’d ever wanted if I’m honest. I grew to heal from what my ex had done to me and I learned how I deserved to be loved. I was so so happy and felt so blessed and very much in love. Then fast forward 18 months and my relationship anxiety began. I’ve been through every obsession you could possibly name but my current obsession is that I wasn’t ready for my relationship with my now partner when I entered it and I just went along with things anyway and so our relationship must be fake and ingenuine and not based on real feelings (I didn’t have strong feelings at first). So… my questions are: is the fact I may not have been ready for a new relationship back then and the fact that I may have had unresolved feelings for an ex back then a red flag issue in terms of the base of our relationship?Does it mean that my relationship NOW cannot work? And finally, do I need to be single now in order to learn how to be independent and okay on my own as I was in a relationship with someone else and only 3 months later I entered my now relationship before I had a chance to fully heal from the last one – meaning I haven’t been on my own for a very very long time? I do not want to be single, I want to be with my boyfriend so badly. He is amazing and my best friend and so caring and supportive. I just worry that I NEED to learn to be okay on my own which I don’t know if i can do in a relationship. May I add my relationship with my ex was only actually 6 months long but it was very intense.
    Thank you, sorry this is so long!

    • Please see note at the end of this post above :).

  9. Sheryl,

    How do you know if you like the idea of your partner? Someone already mentioned it, but please help me out!!

  10. I love this one Sheryl! I think of the airplane analogy– put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others. Often times it is easy to believe tending to our own needs is selfish. Unless we do though, we cannot show up in meaningful ways or be of true service, in whatever form that may take. Have to remind myself daily 🙂 pema chodron always says (paraphrasing) we can only extend unconditional friendliness to others to the extent we can extend it to ourselves.


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