Editor’s note: These posts were written back when my brand name was Remodel Fitness. I’ve decided to include them here without editing them, in the interest of…well… transparency. 😉
Today I want to talk about pleasure.
In a recent conversation about hobbies in my private Facebook community Women Who Empower Other Women, Unite!, it recently came to my attention how few women have activities that they do on a regular basis for the sole purpose of pleasure. Many women mentioned that a hobby just for pleasure was difficult to justify to themselves, whereas a hobby that combined pleasure with something useful (like exercise, or cooking/prep) felt good.
I started asking around, and I’ve discovered that the vast majority of women can’t think of a single activity they do on a regular basis for no reason other than the fact that it gives them pleasure. We’ve bounced around my theories, like how women’s brains are wired to multi-task rather than single-task, and the fact that men are more seen and accepted as pleasure-seeking creatures, so we “understand” when they go do things just for fun on a regular basis. I would even go so far as to say that culturally we see male pleasure as a “need.” We say they need their boy’s weekend together. They need to blow off steam with paintball, or golf, or fishing. We often don’t expect our men to be at their best without their favorite activities or hobbies.
So here’s the big question I came up with:
Why do we expect women to just magically be at their best without regular activities done purely for fun and pleasure?
I mean, listen. I don’t give a shit about fishing or golf. Reading fiction is probably my main purely-for-pleasure activity, and I can pretty much do that anytime, anywhere. So it makes perfect sense in this case that my pleasure reserves can be filled more easily and consistently; I don’t need a “girls weekend away” in order to finally get some reading done. But interestingly, many women say they do have activities (like reading) that they love and could do anywhere, but they simply don’t make the time.
Which is why I want to talk about this. I think that culturally we more or less understand that men need to refuel their pleasure tanks on a regular basis. We kind of just “get” that without them engaging in this kind of self-care, men wouldn’t be as productive or fun to be around. We want them to do these things- we encourage them, because we know that by them getting their needs met, we all benefit.
But we don’t hold the same standard for women.
We consider purely-for-pleasure activities to be something of a bonus for women, something you might earn for a few minutes at the end of a long and exhausting day in which you took care of other people’s needs.
There is a kind of “pleasure is something you earn” mentality around doing things just because they feel good, and the frequency/duration/intensity of what a woman “earns” and rewards herself are generally far too low for the woman to benefit from the amazingly healing, nourishing, uplifting, and mood and health-boosting effects of pleasure.
Fun and pleasure are important parts of self-care, but they often make women feel guilty, ashamed, unworthy, needy, or just uncomfortable.
If you’re looking to take better care of yourself or improve your life, I encourage you to consider and unpack your relationship with pleasure.
What if we all consciously cultivated more pleasure?
Bear in mind that experiencing pleasure is a skill. Pleasure is felt physically, it’s a sensation in your body, and you have to be willing to “get out of your head” and into your body in order to embrace it. That right there might be enough to start working on today, in order to usher in more pleasure and fun and joy into your life! How much do you allow your awareness to tap into and feel your body’s pleasurable sensations? This is a skill that will get better with practice, and it’s all about training your mind to focus on what feels good instead of what feels bad.
Try it right now! Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and tune into your body. Notice what feels good, and notice if it’s difficult for your mind to “find” something that feels good. Most people who tune into their bodies will come up with a list of complaints rather than a list of pleasure; they might notice they’re too cold, or hungry, or the chair is uncomfortable, all with a negative judgement of “this is bad.” It can be tricky to tap into the pleasurable sensations, especially if you’re out of practice, but I promise you they’re always there. The volume has just been dialed way down.
Also, pleasure is totally context dependent, so you might need to get better at providing yourself with the right contexts, both internally and externally.
What does it mean to be context dependent? Just that what feels good in one context might not in another. Think about tickling for example: if someone you loved and was attracted to tickled you, it might feel really good. If a stranger on the street tickled you, it would probably feel pretty weird and bad. This means that you might expect to feel pleasure and enjoyment while sitting in the sun, but if you’re stressed about getting a sunburn, you won’t be able to experience that pleasure.
Cultivating pleasure is about consciously choosing to unpack your relationship with pleasure, embrace it as vital and powerful and valid, instead of as a “bonus” you have to earn.
Just to get your mental juices flowing about what feels good for you and how to cultivate more pleasure, think about what you need to get out of your head and into your body, relaxed, and present. Yoga or running offers these elements for a lot of people, but I am definitely not one of them.
Going for long walks is a sure-fire way to tap into pleasure for me, especially if I’m somewhere visually stimulating, like NYC or in beautiful nature. Also, let’s not forget about the nourishing and life-changing pleasureable quality of the right kind of fucking with the right kind of partner. For a lot of women, it’s very difficult to tap into the physical pleasure of sex due to anxiety, insecurity, or unhealed old traumas that required them to tune sexual sensations out.
If any of this sounds like you and you’re interested in exploring more sexual pleasure, I highly recommend you read Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life
OMGyes.com. Both will help you tap into pleasure using the right internal and external contexts, and encourage you to re-learn how to tap into what feels good, in general.
I want to hear your thoughts and experiences with pleasure. What do you do, just because it feels good? Have you been cultivating pleasure, or are you new to it? What stands in your way of feeling more pleasure?
Share your thoughts on this and more in the community over at Women Who Empower Other Women, Unite! I can’t wait to hear from you.
<3 Jessi Kneeland Get strong. Feel confident. Look amazing.
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