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...

Lack of Desire

I hear a lot of whispered truths from women about their sex lives. I hear that they don’t like kissing, that they haven’t had sex in months (or longer), that they would be perfectly fine never to have sex again. But the statement I hear more than any other is: I don’t feel like having sex.

What they mean when they say this is that they’re experiencing a lack of desire and they’re bumping up the expectation that they should feel hot and bothered by their partner more often, sometimes, or even vaguely. They’ve been flooded by the dysfunctional messages about sexuality that permeate the culture and have formed the belief that if desire isn’t instantly and frequently coursing through their body there’s something wrong. Like all forms of anxiety, the “something wrong” usually takes the form of “there’s something wrong with me, my partner, or our chemistry.”

There’s nothing … Click here to continue reading...

Sex Anxiety

We talk about social anxiety. We talk about relationship anxiety. We talk about transition anxiety. Now it’s time to talk about sex anxiety: not only how anxiety in general or relationship anxiety in particular kills libido but how much anxiety we carry about sex itself. The conversation, as always, begins with talking about fear itself and a discussion on the direct effect that fear has on our bodies’ ability to open or shut down.

One of the first things women learn when they’re preparing for childbirth is the effect that fear has on the birthing process. Put simply, when we’re in a fear state, our bodies contract, which is why women are encouraged to give birth in the location where they feel safest and are then taught techniques for how to open through the fear that arises during labor. In order to give birth, we have to open in every … Click here to continue reading...

Mentors and Guides

We’re not meant to travel life’s pathways alone. In other times and other places, a culture’s members are guided through life’s transitions and trials by the elders who have already traveled that terrain. Girls are ushered through the tangle of adolescence in the fold of older aunts and mothers; boys step into their manhood in the company of other men. New mothers walk next door and hand over a crying baby to a trusted aunt while the mother cries from overwhelm and exhaustion in the arms of a sister. Men can pass a day outdoors with other men, finding comfort and solace in the silence.

These days, separated and isolated as we are, we must find mentors and guides in other ways. We rely heavily on friendship. We call family members. We read books and receive the wisdom of teachers we’ll never meet. We seek the guidance of a therapist … Click here to continue reading...