"Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror… Just keep going. No feeling is final." ~ Rainier Maria Rilke
We can’t choose which feelings we want to experience. What most people don’t realize in their selective attention to their feelings is that as we block our ability to feel any particular emotion, it actually impacts all of our emotional capacity—not just the things we are trying to avoid. This is the conundrum that chokes most people’s sexual drive because libido and emotion are so closely tied, and not only in our brain’s processing mechanism. When we become numb to our emotional response and are unwilling to listen to the important lessons that our heart has to share, we inadvertently lose our capacity to get turned on sexually, too. Let’s look at how learning to feel can heal old erotic wounds, expand your sexual potential and create intimate connections.
Healing Erotic Damage
The issue of sexual consent is a hot topic and not just for young adults who are learning to navigate the uneasy land of sexual hookups. Most young people come into sexual encounters with some degree of inebriation, which makes drawing a line between "yes" and "no" fuzzy. Too often there has been no planning for an exit strategy for the moment when "yes" turns into more of a "no"—creating another common dilemma leading to harmful sexual results. Tragically, sex that ends badly, where one or both partners feel forced, disrespected or ashamed of what happened is what happens when sexual acts are ungrounded and divorced from the comfort and familiarity of intimate relationship.
Shame is a particularly toxic emotion that tends to draw itself to more of the same and nowhere more profoundly than within the unexamined sex life. Stacking up multiple shaming sexual encounters leaves us empty and starving for real connection, yet unable to trust ourselves to choose differently. The only way out of this mess is through feeling into what happened and giving yourself permission, space and support to express the pain, sorrow, anger, guilt, and fear that erotic damage creates. As frightening and overwhelming as this suggestion might seem, it is important to remember this key truth: Feelings demand to be witnessed and viscerally experienced in order to set them free. They are begging for our unconditional attention.
Expand Your Sexual Potential
What we can’t feel we also cannot be curious about. Once we break the dam on the feelings we have been working so hard to avoid, we find underneath that pool of old erotic pain a virtual spring of desire and curiosity. What turns you on is highly charged with emotion and imagination. Clearing out the shame layered on top of our arousal mechanism gives us free reign to supplement the incomplete sexual education we got when we were young and encourages exploring the many ways your body comes alive sexually. In this healing space, you can tap into the deep stores of erotic fuel arising from your most resonant and potent fantasies. Feeling comfortable and curious about who we can become sexually allows us to witness the core of our sex drive, eliciting previously unimagined levels of sexual pleasure.
“Feelings demand to be witnessed and viscerally experienced in order to set them free.”
Become More Intimate
Learning to feel not only helps to release old wounds and explore your sexual potential, but it also makes you available to meaningful and lasting intimate connection. Internal forgiveness is an excellent fertilizer for letting other people be how they are, which is what trips up most people in their quest for lasting intimacy. In the emotional freedom to be yourself completely, you are also able to take responsibility for your own desire. When we don’t hold our lovers hostage for making us feel sexy or desirable, the sexier the relationship becomes. Deep and lasting intimacy is a product of two people who are always leaning towards feeling.
Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family. In her new book, "Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy," she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative advice. It has been called "the essential guide for relationships." The book is available on ebook. Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13-23 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. You can follow her on Google+