What pleasures are you denying yourself?
How we hold ourselves back from pleasure is usually a good indicator of how we hold ourselves back in the pursuit of our dreams.
I’m not suggesting you indulge in a pathological state of constant self-gratification. Pleasure essentially means “something that is worth seeking.” The key word here is “worth,” which in my own imagination excludes any harm to another human being or compulsive behavior loops that destroy one’s health, integrity, or relationships.
After several years of working with my sexual energy, curbing desires, and letting go of hang-ups or add-ons, I have discovered a great deal about my life. The less we have, the easier we move through life. The more energy we give to our dreams, rather than discharging our life source through compulsive acts, debilitating emotions, or toxic relationships, the more success we will achieve. In this time I have built two successful business and am working on a third, but my sense of enjoyment has taken a toll. I got so busy that I forgot how to passionately please myself.
Then, I started reading Carl Jung’s autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections. In it, he recounts a journey through Africa, where he compares the Western, controlled, rational mind to the passion of the locals he encountered, who were more meaningfully connected to the planet than the war-torn European-American world, with its rapid pace and rugged intellectualism.
I feel the need for us to return to the very bodies we came from, made of the same constituencies as the Earth, and to the passions that enliven them.
Here are five reasons we as men need to provide ourselves with more pleasure:
- Because pleasure is the opposite and only true antidote for shame and guilt. Most of us are shamed as children for all the methods we use to bring pleasure into our early high learning curve. We learned that feeling good is often times seen as bad in the eyes of those we love. One technique I have found to be useful is that when engaging in pleasure, whether it be through food, sex (with a partner or alone), exercise, dance, etc., is to mentally bring up an audience of all the people in your life who told you, in any way, that feeling good is bad or shameful. This could be your priest, grandmother, sister, teacher, or spiritual idol. Look into the eyes of each and smile, while indulging in the gifts of the flesh and claiming your birthright.
- Because self-pleasure dampens our need for external sources of happiness. When we are single and find a good groove in our life, we begin to search for companionship. Then, all of a sudden, we start to notice all of the things our partners are or are not doing for us. We are faced with a predicament: What am I responsible for, and what I am not, in this partnership? The answer, interestingly enough, remains the same. We are always responsible for our own pleasure, our own happiness, and to validate our partner’s experience the way we have learned to validate our own. If we cannot self-pleasure, chances are we are riddled with some serious guilt. A partner cannot benefit from our guilt but will certainly bloom as we take charge of our self-care.
- Because healthy men give out of excess rather than deficiency. One cannot give what one does not have. When you give what you do not have, you become codependent, people pleasing, and a candidate for all hosts of autoimmune disorders, depression, etc. These illnesses can be great teachers, and it is the life path for some to learn everything they can from these states, but for those of us wishing to thrive and replenish the world with our excess energy, pleasuring vitality, and passion, we must be full, investing and directing these power lines constantly inward.
- Because a man who knows what he wants, and engages in what makes him feel good, is a pillar for lovers to hold onto and feel safe with. It is okay for a man to be unsure of himself from time to time. Uncertainty and doubt are human. But I believe it is important for an unsure man to at least be seeking and traveling through his ambiguity, rather than avoiding it. The best way to do this is to find that which gives him pleasure, especially to his body. One practice I have learned is to touch myself while not fantasizing or watching porn, but to discover, without any intention of orgasm (although that’s ok if it happens to happen). Dance while you work out. Allow your body to move in ways it never has. Soon, an assurance will dawn in you. You will become a Sun around which others will gladly orbit. Burn my friends, burn!
- Because it is a way for men to drop from their minds into the body, from fantasies into senses, and from outward regard to inward love. The base of health exists in the body. If the body is compromised, the first culprits to look at are food, the state of mind, the economy of emotions, and the quality of our close relationships. Thus, relaxation of the body becomes paramount. One of the most effective ways to relax the body, curb thought storms, burn off emotional rubble, is to give your body pleasure. Take a vacation to the sun, get a massage, ask a lover to pleasure your sensitive areas, or snuggle with your child. I am of a mind that the greatest risk to men’s health is their outward focus, people/partner pleasing antics, work too hard, “impress all” attitude that makes us sick. Reign in it fellow adventurers. Reign it in.
Unless we can create a pleasuring environment, both in and out, we leave ourselves susceptible to toxic partners (abusers, narcissists, etc.). We are also in danger of attaining victim attitudes, less than fulfilling lives, and thirsty bodies. When we create pleasure in our lives, we also teach our children how to do this; hence they will avoid the shame loops that keep so many of us trapped.