A while ago, I was musing about the need to trust pleasure. I thought, “What would our lives be like if we trusted the experience of pleasure more?” Our culture teaches us that pleasure is not quite to be trusted. Have you ever found yourself feeling suspicious of pleasure? You know it might lead you astray from the “more important things of life?” Or, maybe we think we don’t really deserve it or perhaps it’s just the impact of that primitive brain that’s always on alert for the next bad thing to happen. Its message is: Don’t relax. You have to stay on guard for potential danger to survive.
Being in Perpetual Survival Mode
We’re still learning how this primitive brain, sometimes called the “reptilian brain” is instinctual and wired for our survival. But it can be overactive and always on. When this is the case, we don’t notice the good things that are all around us, and it blocks our experience of pleasure, because pleasure helps us relax, and be more open to life.
Then there’s the additional challenge of understanding what “real pleasure” is. Maybe we’re right to distrust pleasure when it’s of the “guilty pleasures” variety. You know what I’m talking about - too much Netflix, too much ice cream or wine, etc. I call those the pleasures that are designed to help us avoid, what really needs attending to. When I catch myself in that mode, I ask the question – What am I really wanting? What am I hungry for? What would truly satisfy my longing?
Hallmarks of Pleasure
Real pleasure is nourishing and fulfils us. It doesn’t leave us continually wanting more. I’ve described the Hallmarks of Pleasure as increased wellbeing, relaxation, sense of safety, calm, an openness to life, and increased creativity.
Partly we don’t trust pleasure because we’ve not allowed ourselves to deeply notice and question our ambivalence – where did it come from, is it a legitimate stance, and is it how I really a want to be in relationship with pleasure?
Questions to Ask about Pleasure
These questions can support a new perspective on pleasure. From there, we can begin to learn what truly gives us pleasure. Pleasure is a prime motivator. It is also part of our survival wiring – in fact, it more than helps us survive, it also helps us thrive.
I invite you to hold the question: “How would your life be different if you trusted the experience of pleasure more?”
Previous entry: The Vibrations of Pleasure
“Forefront Psychotherapy had Madeline present a morning workshop called Unlock Pleasure for our counselling centre’s open house. Her presentation was innovative and captivating. She brought forward the information in a way that appealed to new and seasoned therapists alike. Her presentation style put the audience at ease and she kept each one of us captivated for the duration of her talk. We would highly recommend Madeline to any group looking for a speaker.”