Our sexuality is a wonderful joy that we can share with others.
To keep this joy from becoming a source of useless misery we need to be conscious and not rely on preconceived ideas. Let’s distinguish here five causes of trouble to avoid.
Most of us absorbed dubious beliefs about sex and it is a matter of degree how distant our beliefs are from the truth. We have been fashioning our sexual beliefs from our parents, friends, music, movies (including pornography) and books since the time when we first encountered the subject, yet, many of our sexual concepts are flawed. The goal here is to see flaws in our beliefs so we need not be punished by facts.
1. Do not blindly accept anyone’s “authority” on sexual matters.
One reason that this lesson probably eludes us is, as children, we are all forced into authoritarian relationships; we have acclimated ourselves to seeking authority. Some opinions are better than others. The quality of any belief shouldn’t be judged by the source of the belief, but, instead, from the belief being better adapted to the circumstances than the alternatives.
You may want to try something new as an experiment, but if you begin by believing your idea is the best, then you not only deny alternatives, you have also tampered with the results due to a bias. Even people with vast sexual experience deserve a healthy measure of doubt because a fool can have sex without becoming wise, regardless of the frequency or ways by which he or she has sex.
2. Do not pretend that rules, agreements or boundaries give you control over the circumstances in a sexual relationship.
We do not manage other people’s affections. We simply make choices. Our sexual joys and capacities, like the tides, ebb and flow throughout our lives. If the weather is fine during a picnic, then we enjoy the picnic. We respond to the weather and delight and play in it when we can, but we are not masters of the weather.
3. We can induce emotion through thinking, even when that thinking is false.
If you have ever seen someone explain away abusive circumstances in order to stay in a destructive relationship, then you have seen someone use his or her mind to alter facts. We can alter the meaning of facts in the opposite direction too when the thing we imagined as bad doesn’t exist and responding to those distortions or fictions, not the facts.
For example, a man in a car in a morning fog collides with another car. The driver flies into a rage and screams at the other driver to look where he is going. A breeze then clears the mist, the angry driver then sees the other car is empty and properly parked. This driver clearly conceived someone to blame.
We understand the circumstances of the story and know that real emotion can be built on fiction. We can now understand how we might impose feelings on our lovers based on fictions and never know that we generated the feeling in our mind.
4. Our emotions are part of the environment that others must adapt to.
We can often hear emotion in another’s voice and feel the anger of one who is silent. As such, it is easy to understand that emotion affects others. Like animals responding to a warning cry, we often notice the signals that others are sending even though the meaning may seem vague.
Emotion gives us the power to influence others in subtle ways. We commonly notice when people use anger to bully others, but it is less common to see the manipulation when the emotion is pain or fear. We can also coerce others by withholding affections.
We inhibit our chances for affection if we make it hard to be around us being misery making machines e.g. a person who fears the loss of a lover can saturate the circumstances with angst. Fearful people often insinuate a lack of affection on the part of others, especially if the fearful person imagines that they would get what they want if the other truly cared. Our emotions based on imagination sometimes bring about a real result.
5. Your sexual experience or lack thereof cannot be your identity.
Sexuality, like any other experience, comes and goes. If you existed before or after any experience, then that experience cannot be who you are and cannot define you. Ideas about ourselves cannot be who we are.
The concept of self is merely a mental reflection. We construct an identity and use it to solve problems; it’s like a blueprint of ourselves with the details being sensations or memories from the past. However, we need to remember that cannot live as a blueprint, regardless of how detailed a representation of self it may be.
Remember facts can expose the weakness of our beliefs and any explanation of a fact is different than any fact itself. If a description of a cake is excellent it still lacks sweetness and calories. Our expectations amount to a description of what the future should be like and all ideas of the future are by definition imaginary.
Those of us who have experienced other cultures know that foreigners often hold beliefs quite different from our own as strongly as we hold our beliefs. Clearly, many beliefs originate arbitrarily from the culture in which we were raised.
With so many deeply held, but widely divergent beliefs resting on similar grounds, we should treat all such beliefs with doubt. This doubt creates a space for discovery.
Author: Todd Vickers
Editor: Catherine Monkman