Many of the sexual dysfunctions sex therapists treat are caused by anxiety. Worry that you’re not good enough, pretty enough, virile enough, endowed enough, erect enough, orgasmic enough.
Worry that you aren’t experienced enough, or that you have had “too many” partners if you are female.
Worry that you will turn off a potential partner by something about you, or something you do or say.
Worry about your stomach pooch, your lack of muscle, your occasional bad breath.
The sexual worries people have are almost infinite, so if you have some you are not alone.
Anxiety is profoundly normal and profoundly human. But it is also crippling. It sucks the joy out of life. And it sucks the joy out of good sex, which is grounded in feeling free, embodied, open, and not threatened.
The story of the Two Wolves is a popular legend of unknown origin, sometimes attributed to the Cherokee or Lenape people. It goes like this:
An old Native American man is teaching his grandson about life
(The feminist inside me says it could be a grandmother, too….):
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One is evil–he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
(In our case, we will add worry, anxiety, and rumination to this list.)
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
The same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?”
The old man simply replied, “The one you feed.”
The message is not to be angry or unaccepting of the parts of you that feel anxious, to instead feel compassionate to the parts of you that feels the worry. But don’t privilege the anxious thoughts.
Instead, feed the good wolf. Focus on thoughts that bring you joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
If you’re worried that things won’t go well in a particular sexual interlude or interaction, don’t’ allow yourself to wallow in frightening thoughts of what will happen in the next minutes, days, or weeks.
You can try a strategy in which you only schedule yourself a 10-minute interval daily to worry, and don’t allow yourself to worry outside of that timeframe.
What is your “good wolf”? Make a journal where you write down notes on the details of your “good wolf.”
If you are someone who gets pleasure out of physical activity, or music, make sure you do those activities.
Remind yourself of people, things, or communities that support you.
Find relief from chronic anxiety based on other resources in your arsenal. Everyone has some.
So get out that journal and get to strengthening that good wolf.
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