Pleasure is not only a concept—it’s an action. Here we will look at specific ways to safely explore pleasure as a strategy for long-term freedom and sexual satisfaction.
- When you think about the word pleasure, what are your immediate associations that go along with it? Write down all thoughts, feelings, images, and memories, and be sure to remain curious and non-judgmental.
- Define the word pleasure for yourself. Your private ideas and beliefs about pleasure will help you develop a sexual vision.
- What are the messages from childhood that get in the way of your freedom and enjoyment of pleasure? These messages may come from family, friends, school, community, and religious organizations. List as many of these messages that may have become stubborn barriers to pleasure.
- What are the messages from childhood that encouraged pleasure? List as many of these messages that were “pleasure-positive.”
- What gives you pleasure? Without overthinking it, brainstorm and make a list of pleasurable experiences you already enjoy—both sexual and non-sexual.
- In our society, self-pleasure is often a taboo subject. As discussed in Part One of this article, you can expand self-pleasure to mean anything that brings you contentment, relaxation, or serenity. What are the ways that you self-soothe? Do you enjoy a hot bath? Do you have a favorite type of music you listen to? Take your time to list those items that you already do and the items you would like to introduce into your toolbox of self-pleasure activities.
- Sexual health includes safe, positive, respectful, and pleasurable experiences. What sexual experiences are safe, respectful, and pleasurable whether it be with another person or by yourself? Once you consider sexual activities that are fun, playful, and liberating, share this list with a confidant or trusted professional.
- Is there residual shame connected to your sexual expression? Sexual shame gets in the way of being in the moment and feeling sexual freedom. Consider individual, group therapy or 12-step meetings to build shame resiliency. Brene Brown believes that “shame is given to us by others, and shame is healed through others.” Find a confidant or a group to share these parts of you that create this unnecessary burden. Find the courage to break out of the secrecy and expand your sexual voice.
Because sexual hang-ups and barriers are so prevalent, it takes courage to investigate your sexual health and freely explore what’s pleasurable. Unlike the Puritans, sexual liberation is yours to discover.
Take your time with these suggested action steps because it takes awhile to un-do a lifetime of unhelpful messages and sexual barriers. It often takes a team of open-hearted, unconditional therapists, coaches, sponsors, and confidants to mend the brokenheartedness that goes along with sexual wounds, and it often requires the right healers to help you thrive as a sexual being. Remember, the more you explore the shadow, the more the light will shine bright.