Your Mindset and Sexual Performance Anxiety
Sexual Performance Anxiety may be a question of Mindset
You finally got the woman of your dreams interested, and in bed with you. Arousal is sky high – she is everything you ever desired! And then, you are absolutely stunned to discover that you are not getting erect. While performance anxiety can wreak all kinds of havoc, like coming too early, not coming at all, or losing the erection too early, I want to focus here on failing to get an erection when you think your penis should have one. How can that be a question of mindset?
Sexual Performance Anxiety as a Vicious Cycle
Our mind is a funny thing – it can’t distinguish between real danger and imagined danger, even if the imagined danger is just not being able to have penetrative sex with a hottie. When there is a lot at stake, it may feel like an emergency situation for your penis. What’s she going to think about me? Will she never have sex with me again? Will she tell all her friends?! Worry is a constricting emotion, and fear tends to activate adrenaline. Adrenaline may put us into a fight or flight mode, where blood is directed to the vital organs for survival, and sorry, the penis isn’t one of them! We tend to get pale when afraid. The last thing you want when in a survival situation is an erection. Just like the blood draining from our face, blood flow to the penis is lessened.
What do women think when Sexual Performance Anxiety makes penetration impossible?
When men tell me about their dating experiences, problems with performance on the first sexual encounter can indeed result in the woman breaking off contact. I’m not saying that that’s a nice thing to do, or fair, particularly considering that women don’t have to get erect when having penetrative sex. It just seems to be a sad fact. That said, women deal with their own insecurities, and think that maybe they are not pretty or hot enough for you, that you are not sexually attracted to them, or that they are doing something wrong. The one thing NOT to say: ‘It’s never happened before!’ She WILL take that personal. If performance anxiety and issues occur later in the relationship, women tend to be really understanding, speaking generally. Performance anxiety is often higher on a first sexual encounter, than in a long term relationship. The conundrum is that when dating, most tend to have a first sexual encounter before embarking on a relationship!
The Wisdom of the Body, and Mindset
When becoming sexually active in teenage years, erections can be a bit of a joke – the surge of testosterone can mean that erections happen arbitrarily, in all kinds of appropriate or inappropriate scenarios. This is when performance anxiety can first occur around erections. When we could be curious, and discover all the new things our bodies are doing and capable of, and enjoy the pleasure they give us, perceived social pressure often has the opposite effect. What’s important to realise is that the autonomous nervous system is heavily involved in erections. We can invite erections, but not make them happen like flexing our muscles. We all too often bring a performance mindset of work and sports to sexuality. Erections thrive on freedom and creativity – the more you want to force them, the less your body will comply.
How to deal with Sexual Performance Anxiety
When we feel anxiety, our first response may be getting carried away by anxious thoughts. Notice when that is happening. Thank your body for wanting to keep you safe. Then, imagine putting each thought on a cloud and let it drift away. Which changes in sensation does the anxiety cause in your body? You may feel your heart race, or the pit of your stomach empty out or contract. Notice all of that, and then come back to a more grounding and pleasurable place, your lower abdomen and genital area, including your anus. Breathe deeply into those areas, and let go of wanting to have an erection. Find an area in your body that feels good. From that area, find more pleasurable sensations in your body. Breathe those sensations in. Find a place of surrender. You may have an erection now, or later. You know your body can have erections. There is nothing you can force about it. When with a partner, try anchoring yourself in giving and receiving pleasure in the rest of your body. Try to make her laugh. Ease the pressure.
Sexual Performance Anxiety as a life lesson calling for Surrender
The autonomous nervous system deals with vital functions that are wisely taken out of our control. Imagine your heart or kidneys having performance anxiety, and not working properly! Breathing can be a bridge between our motoric and autonomous nervous system. Breath is happening all the time, and yet, we can also choose to breathe actively, and can actually up- or down-regulate our nervous system like this. In sessions I encourage men with performance anxiety to develop awareness around their arousal functions, and to let go of the desire to control. We can only manage what we know well. Get to know your ‘team’, i.e. what gets you aroused, and what does the physical response feel like in all its stages. Discover whole body pleasure and take it to deeper levels. Receive the pleasure rather than trying to grab it. And lastly, discover the bliss of surrender, and loving whatever is happening, in the web of life and love and sex. Enjoy!