Guilty Pleasure? Really?
Chatting with a friend the other day, we both must have said ‘guilty pleasure’ about 10 times. I was talking about spending some time alone to plan some work, spending time writing and splurging on sex toys. Her guilty pleasures included some fiction reading, a hazelnut latte, a shower and going to the grocery store by herself. Yes, you read that correctly: going to the grocery store by herself.
Okay, first things first, why do we characterize experiencing pleasure as related to guilt? Is it that we feel selfish? Is pleasure just generally not acceptable when we have busy lives and families? Is the guilt related to your choice of pleasures like unhealthy foods or habits? What if your choice of pleasure is healthy such as self-pleasuring, spending sexy time with a partner or a great workout? Where does your constellation of feelings of guilt related to pleasure have a genesis? It is worth exploring, as any pleasure juxtaposed with the experience of guilt isn’t really much pleasure at all.
Just the concept ˜guilty pleasure’ is wrong in so many ways. There shouldn’t be any reason we should feel guilty about experiencing pleasure. Even if our choice of pleasure isn’t the healthiest of options, say for example a ridiculously rich piece of dark chocolate, (what can I say, I’m predictable) if we intentionally choose to indulge in moderation, guilt should have nothing to do with that experience of pleasure.
The pleasure and guilt tend to be even more entangled when the source of the pleasure is our sexuality. Perhaps this entanglement is partially to blame for the fact that so few parents maintain sexual pleasure as a priority as part of their busy lives. Not only are there bodily changes and relationship evolution and increased demands on our time and sweet kiddos hanging around requiring our energy, but also we must contend with the intermingling of guilt and pleasure when prioritizing sexual enjoyment.
It pays to do the work of untangling guilt and pleasure. As we intentionally and mindfully choose pleasure-filled experiences and then indulgently swim around in the pleasure, we not only give ourselves permission to enjoy, but also get the full enjoyment out of the experience. We don’t cheat ourselves of the benefits of the beautiful experience of a relaxing massage, or well-written erotica or that ridiculously rich piece of dark chocolate by regretting it afterwards, or worse, feeling guilty during the indulgence.
I am focusing now on banishing both the phrase and the concept of guilty pleasure from my lexicon and experience. I am committing to experience my pleasure without guilt. It likely won’t be easy given how easily discussions of my guilty pleasures flow when chatting with my favorite people. But I’m going to call myself on it. I’m going to intentionally consider and mindfully choose my pleasures knowing that I deserve a much pleasure in my life as I can squeeze in; and not in spite of a busy mama’s life but specifically because of my busy mama’s life. We all spend so much time focused on facilitating other’s experiences and doing our best to maximize the happiness and pleasure for our families, we deserve the same consideration ourselves.
Spend some time reflecting on your relationship to pleasure and unpack some of the unsatisfactory and useless feelings you experience. And regularly seek out a bit of intentional pleasure for yourself, choose it and own it. You deserve it¦guilt-free!