Debunking Sexual Myths: Genital Response Means Desire

One of the spokes of any anxiety wheel is cognitive distortions: the assumptions, misunderstandings, and expectations we form about love, relationships, romance, parenting, sexuality, and nearly every realm of being human. Because we’re not explicitly taught how our minds and bodies operate – how to understand and attend to our thoughts, feelings, and sensations – we’re left to form our own conclusions based largely on what we see in mainstream media. Since the mainstream seems to know virtually nothing accurate about these aspects of being human, the vast majority of these conclusions are incorrect, which invariably leads to anxiety since reality will rarely align with what we’re told we “should” be thinking, feeling, and experiencing.

In the realm of relationships, as I’ve written about repeatedly on this site, this often sounds like, “I should be wildly attracted to my partner” or “I should just know when I meet The One.” … Click here to continue reading...

A Foundational Key for Breaking Free From Anxiety

“This is your body, your greatest gift, pregnant with wisdom you do not hear, grief you thought was forgotten, and joy you have never known.”

― Marion Woodman, Coming Home to Myself: Reflections for Nurturing a Woman’s Body and Soul

We’re a neck-up culture. We place a high premium on words and believe that our salvation comes from intellectual prowess. We talk and think and ruminate: talking our way out of problems, thinking our way through dilemmas, and fully believing that all of life’s answers are found in our heads. Some of this propensity toward talking comes from our extroverted culture (Americans have a particularly bad reputation worldwide for being blabber-mouths) but it also comes from a defense mechanism that begins early in life for many children: when the pain is too big, they travel away from their bodies, which is the locus of pain, and into their heads.

This … Click here to continue reading...

“My Partner Doesn’t Know How To Touch Me”

Clients often say to me, “My partner isn’t a great lover. He or she doesn’t know how to touch me like past partners have.” To which I respond, “Maybe that’s true, but if your own anxiety, current life circumstances, and sexual/body history are weighing down on you, you will shut down. Anxiety kills desire. Past pain around sexuality eclipses sexual freedom. Body shame circumvents arousal. The work must begin with you. And from there you can have a very different conversation with your partner about what you like and what you don’t like.”

There’s usually a long pause, and then a sigh of relief that speaks to their realization that perhaps there’s hope for the relationship and their sex life after all. Paralyzed by the expectations of the culture that says that sex should be sizzling hot from the first kiss and that this initial spark should fan into fireworks … Click here to continue reading...

A Moment in My Marriage

There are moments in my marriage that take my breath away.

Last Sunday on Mother’s Day, the four of us spent several hours working on my garden. My garden is one of my sanctuaries, but every year the grass from the lawn finds its way into my vegetable beds and by mid-summer they’re overrun with weeds. Last autumn we realized that we needed to make a border around the garden to prevent the grass from crawling over, so my request for Mother’s Day was my family’s help to create this barrier. This required renting a heavy piece of equipment to cut the sod then transporting twenty, sixty-pound bags of rock from the store into my garden. I’m all for women’s empowerment but I knew I wouldn’t be able to manage this one on my own. My husband was more than happy to help.

We worked all day together. While my … Click here to continue reading...

The Gift of Projection

Projection is one of the most important concepts to understand when you’re stuck in relationship anxiety or any manifestation of anxiety. It’s a psychological term that essentially means we’re stuck in a story about someone or something else with the belief that it’s true, and that if the person or thing would change we would feel better. Everyone will, at some point, find themselves stuck in a projection; it’s part of being human. Projections are a bit challenging to define and even more challenging to see when you’re in one. In Wikipedia’s words:

“Psychological projection or projection bias (including Freudian Projection) is the unconscious act of denial of a person’s own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, such as to the weather, the government, a tool, or to other people… Projection is considered one of the most profound and subtle of human psychological processes, … Click here to continue reading...