“The secret to happiness is freedom… And the secret to freedom is courage.” -Thucydides
Fear is the driver for many people’s sexual and erotic lives. One of Freud’s students, Otto Rank, was quoted as saying, “People vacillate between the fear of living and the fear of dying.” In some ways, our fears about our sexuality encompass both. We are equally terrified of what might happen if we gave into our erotic fantasy life and that we might never experience the pleasure we know that we hold in us. Worse still, these invisible and unnamed fears not only strangle our own capacity for intimacy but also are the source of the harshest judgments we hold about the sexuality of others; often times, those we hold most dear. Whether rooted in religious teachings or our first family structures, our sexual fears are instilled in us early and, as we mature, often translate into deeply held inhibitions, which prevent us from evolving sexually.
In our sexual culture today this stagnant sexuality shows up not only as sexual frigidity, but even more frequently, as promiscuity. Even though we believe we are breaking our sexual inhibitions, promiscuous sex is actually bound to the fears that control us and ends up only feeding them. Having sex recklessly is harmful on many levels- rather than moving us towards what we really want, which is the basis of true sexual freedom, it keeps us entrained in reacting against what we fear. True freedom, sexual or otherwise, emanates from our hearts, and reflects back to us as the courage to be ourselves. Another way to think about freedom is as a form of authenticity, with both the clarity of mind and strength of action to back it up. And when it comes to sex, moving consciously from a resonant place of truth allows us to gently expand our boundaries of what’s possible and makes us more courageous with each act.
Courageously stepping into and exploring the meaning of sexual freedom is how we expand our past our inhibitions and redefine our boundaries, allowing our innate sexual curiosity to wake up. The more we tap into and act from this courage, the less we have to be afraid of. In the process, we discover not only an erotic capacity that we didn’t know we had, but a new relationship with pleasure.
Living a courageous sexual life doesn’t erase our fears. Rather, it creates a new and conscious relationship to our fears that heightens the reality of the present moment. Moving willingly into unknown spaces, whether through expanding into erotic fantasies or just deepening our capacity for sexual communication makes us truly available to feel and participate with our partners fully. Growing up and evolving sexually is about standing in our own courage. It is a clear path to the freedom it takes to make conscious choices about who, when, where and how we love.