On the Fear of Pleasure

Dear quarter lives,

Have you ever observed your relationship to pleasure? Are you one of those people who believes in your right to enjoy life and all it has to offer or are you one of those that views pleasure as temptation, something that seduces us into “sin”? Do you enjoy your food or are you afraid that it will make you fat if you let yourself enjoy it? Do you enjoy your body, do you touch it, do you let others touch it; or do you feel guilty and refrain from engaging with your body? Do you go out and see the people you love as much as you want or do you refrain from the pleasures of connection afraid it might distract you from your life/career goals?

I think for most of us, we allow ourselves to seek pleasure in some areas and then in other areas we feel the need to exercise control because we feel desire might overtake us. This has been a topic that’s occupied my mind for quite some time now. In part because I wanted to understand my own relationship to pleasure. I found that my relationship to pleasure was not only defined by me, but by the society I lived in and the current culture surrounding pleasure. It was a little crazy for me to realise that societies all around the globe at different points in time (some even until now) felt that they had a right to govern individual pleasures, be it alcohol intake or the kind of sexual activities people wanted to engage in. It’s a strange feeling to feel in your body- that it’s not only yours, that other people have a right to it and can legally prosecute you if you break those rules that said society has decided for you. How can a society exercise such a right on an individual body? How can someone have rights over my body that I don’t even have? In what world does that make any sense? In what world is it okay that I oppress a body like that? For me, such intrusions on an individual body cross a boundary that shouldn’t be crossed by anyone. It feels like a form of psychosocial rape – a trespassing on the collective individual body that’s just not okay.

The next step after realising society’s role in your relationship to pleasure is to take responsibility for your own blocks to pleasure. These will largely have been formed in childhood, by observing your parents relationship to pleasure. Healing our relationship to pleasure isn’t easy but it is absolutely necessary if we are to have a relationship with our bodies that’s not abusive. It certainly takes a lot of time and patience, but the most important thing always is your willingness to heal. We all have our different paces that we embrace change with, for some change can happen over a few months and for others it might take years. The length of time here doesn’t matter at all, we all have different belief patterns to work with, different childhood experiences and different sensitivities. Change can be more overwhelming for some than others so always remember to be kind to yourself during the process. Don’t force yourself to enjoy something because you’re working on pleasure. No. Not at all. It’s all about slowly working up to a point where things feel good without you trying. The thing with pleasure is that for many of us it’s tied in to our self-worth. Do we think we deserve pleasure, in the same way, that many of us self-sabotage when things are going too well in our lives because we doubt for a second that we deserve them.

We deserve pleasure. We deserve to enjoy how the air feels against our bodies and wear shorts if we feel like it without having to cater for someone else’s mind. We deserve to decide for ourselves how we’d like to enjoy our bodies. We deserve to feel good!

I believe any real long lasting cultural change starts with the individual. Exercise your right to pleasure. Yes you do it for you first, but it is for the generations after us that we need to leave the world a better place than we found it. Revolutions of the social kind always begin at home. So make your own changes and don’t worry about how many other people need to change their minds for change to happen. It’s all about the bottom-up change. Be responsible for your own change. Change for you first, and let the universe take care of the rest.

With so much love and always for peace,

S.A.

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