Conditioning Your Brain for Pleasure

Ending the Epidemic

I blame the Puritans for why most of us struggle with life-long guilt for feeling good–the kind of guilt that prevents you from investing time, energy, and money into yourself. I’d dare to say that it’s an epidemic, especially among womxn.

Pleasures and self-indulgences come in many varieties: spiritual, sensual, sexual, emotional, and mental, among others. For you, maybe it’s about investing in your inner work so you can create better thoughts and beliefs about yourself. Or finding such great delight at seeing yourself in the mirror that you give extra thought to composing your everyday look. Or giving yourself permission to play when you think you should be doing chores or helping others.

What’s considered self-indulgent, frivolous, or unnecessary? It’s completely arbitrary! Everyone absorbs different beliefs about what is acceptable and unacceptable when it comes to choosing yourself.

When you’re habitually triggered by certain self-indulgences, it might feel like an insurmountable, life-long problem. You can probably conjure up a lot of past memories and experiences that conditioned you to feel this way. You know exactly where and when the beliefs were programmed in your mind all the back to your childhood. Maybe the stinging words of a parent or teacher still ring in your ears.

So then it becomes part of your identity. You claim, “This is just how I am! I’m a people-pleasing robot, and I sabotage opportunities to choose myself first.”

I don’t care how deep-seated this feels or how many generations back the problem started. Your body is ADAPTIVE. You brain is always changing, and your nervous system has the capacity to expand into new territory. And we know *so much more* now about how to actually change.

I Predict a Pleasurable Future

Your brain is a prediction mechanism. If you learned long ago to feel guilty about spending time, money, or energy on yourself, then those feelings became habituated in your brain and nervous system. Self-indulgent qualities and behaviors are probably in the shadow of your unconscious mind. You’re not unable to prioritize yourself. You are fully capable of feeling *amazing* putting yourself first. Your incredibly adaptive body is waiting to be re-conditioned for self-seeking pleasure.

Imagine your ideal vacation, where you just let go of all practicality, productivity, and responsibility. You’re in the hammock, doing jack shit, and it feels amazing.

Imagine updating your wardrobe because you have total conviction that you deserve to replace your well-worn, boring, stretched out clothes that don’t reflect a damn ounce of your vivacious spirit inside. What would it be like to look in the mirror and say, “Girl, you are FIRE!”

What would be possible if you spent an absurd amount of money on a top-of-the-line vibrator–the one that changes everything! …I’ll let you play that one out in your own head.

Mind-Body Practice

There are many ways and many layers to working through old habits around choosing yourself. Your unconscious mind is one of your best assets for this kind of work.

An analogy will help explain why. Do you ever watch a TV or movie and become so wrapped up in the story, that it literally causes you to cry? It’s called suspended disbelief in the TV/film industry. It’s when the part of your brain that knows what you’re seeing isn’t real suddenly becomes less active. What you see feels real, because it’s a type of hypnotic state of mind.

Mentally rehearsing a scenario–doing what you wanna do, feeling how you want to feel–is incredibly powerful to the brain. The unconscious mind believes what you see when the critical thinking part of your brain takes a backseat. If you took 5 minutes a day to drop in and visualize what you want to do differently, then you can start changing how you show up in real life. Top athletes pay hypnotists to help them mentally rehearse the touchdown throw because research has shown it actually helps them win.

Of course, it takes more than just mental rehearsal. You gotta show up to practice and work those real muscles too. But you don’t need to suffer through it. Your will power alone isn’t going to get you to the finish line. Partner with your whole body. It knows how to change.

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