We all need to read a certain book that does not yet exist
There exists a disintermediating stimulus that can be transmitted through written words. This pair bonds with us and sets us free.
All questions instantly PAIR BOND, ok?
Just like the word REMEMBER sends you into trance, right?
first it must exist right?
what should I call it?
because the only way to sell a billion jillion copies is to name it right. and FUCK WORK is not the title! I don't care about FUCK WORK right now, we have bigger fish to fry. What is the title that would shoot to the top of the charts AND be a very fun and helpful book for me to write and them to read?
- It must sell to millions of kids immediately, as if it were a new hit app.
- It must be a must-read.
- It must connect with my Unamerican background.
- It must be GOOD FOR YOU TO READ, like maieutic.
- It must leverage my expertise: science fiction, selling, what?
- It ought to be a book that changes the reader from one phase to the next, like an LRH book!
The technology of asking = K x K
How should I ask millions of kids to own my new book this week?
to KNOW you must ASK.
K = Ask.
This means you need to KNOW something by explicitly ASKING, not just GUESSING. "may i ask you a question? do you like me?" Only after her answer to that question is yes you may proceed with true audacity, right?
Knowledge must have an outcome or it winds up a trap, see?
Look at VIDEO GAMES, they have no outcome (other than distraction, which can be valuable). Look at TV!!!! There is no outcome worth mentioning for TV. Or Facebook for that matter, right?
K = Technology.
If you have the capability to ACT then you have TECHNOLOGY. It may seem like "magic" to other people but to you it's as simple as initiating a sequence, right?
can't we speed it up?
how do we get to it with gusto? What do we need to do next? The rest of it is all details, if you agree we should make moves to get what we need. Don't you agree? How fast should we get started?
K = my writing is irresistible
I write about such stuff that other writers never would ever consider as topics. And when I write, I pair bond with my reader. Therefore, what?
Let Γ = sell you a book.
What is KNOWLEDGE?
Knowledge is the capability to act.
Knowledge is a competitive edge when you have knowledge that helps you compete better.
Knowledge is a process.
- Represent it towards ACHIEVEMENT with CASES and RULES
- Encode it for your target
- Test, evaluate, improve
- Transmit it to your target
- Communication Creates More Knowledge
- ACHIEVEMENTS: They Get X, We Get Y
Puzzle out your GOAL and your WISH.
If K then my goal is Γ and my wish is Ω.
What you KNOW leads you to what you can GET and what you should WANT.
AVOID ADVERTISING TO SPREAD KNOWLEDGE
If you have to advertise something then it isn't selling itself, which is the ultimate spex, that it sell itself.
If it's KNOWLEDGE it ought to spread by itself.
ASK ASK ASK
- Questions must have an OUTCOME.
- If it's a QUESTION it ought to spread by its responsibility.
- Avoid advertising to spread questions.
- If you ask K, then you will know K.
- What questions set Facebook off?
- How do I ask?
- What do I ask?
- Questions are a process.
- Questions are the capability to ask.
- Questions are a competitive edge.
- When you have questions you compete better.
- Questions are technology.
How do I know?
If it were really such a good platform then I would be getting results.
ONE USER AT A TIME
There exists some bit of information that if transferred would make any human respond by starting a METANOTES account and asking a few questions.
What KNOWLEDGE set Facebook off?
I know my friend X is using it and wants to connect with me.
What RESULTS do I want?
- I want a billion users too.
- I want these billion users to click on ads and pay subscription fees and other things that make us money without messing up the user experience.
- I want METANOTES to become a CULTURAL PHENOMENON, ok?
ASK, not "know"
If you never ASK how can you KNOW? You must ASK and then you KNOW.
Suggest an ACTION note that leads into some kind of ACTION LIST? Or maybe ACTION spawns a TANGENT?
What do I know?
METANOTES is the best way to spend your time because you really open up when you ask yourself questions.
RESULTS I GET FROM METANOTES
I have a place to think about all the angles of an issue then I can figure out how to take ACTION.
Make Her Curious And Horny About Me
Change her state and you can make her curious and horny about me.
Because states involve bodily changes, they are noticeable on both the inside and the outside. If we are paying attention, we can notice changes in heart rate, breathing, posture and other internal signals within ourselves.
State calibration is the NLP term for noticing changes of state, particularly in others. It is a vital communication skill. For instance, how aware are you of changes in someone’s voice tone or volume or slight changes in his or her facial expression?
Managing and Changing States
We can learn to influence and even change states in particular situations to give us more choices in achieving our outcomes.
NLP States and Situations
What is the most useful state for this particular challenge or situation? We can more easily solve different problems with particular internal states. It’s not about good and bad states, but which is more useful given the context.
A relaxed state is not useful in an emergency. An active state is not useful when patience is required. If you are in an unsuitable state for the task, anything you do will be more difficult.
You can match the appropriate state and task using State Elicitation.
Types of state Emotional States – our sympathetic (active) and parasympathetic (rest) nervous system responses based on our interpretations.
Attentional States – how ready are we to respond? When we are on “automatic pilot” we are less alert
Other States. What are we tuning out? When we focus on a particular task or are distracted, we don’t necessarily notice other important happenings.
What Is State Elicitation? THE KEY!!!
State Elicitation is one of the core skills of any NLP coach. In NLP, a state is more than I thought. A state involves thoughts, feelings and physiology, and covers the spectrum from deep relaxation to to high excitement, from acute pain to ecstatic pleasure, or from mental vertigo to flow. A good NLP practitioner needs to be able to "light up" the neurology, in order to disassociate an old state from an undesirable outcome, or to associate a new resourceful state to a new desired outcome.
Good neuro-linguistic programming does not happen through intellectual discussions about change. Real change only happens as a result of installing a new neuro-linguistic program in a receptive state. The new neurolinguistic program must be powerfully linked to resourceful states, just as any old unresourceful states must be de-linked. NLP must be experienced, not merely thought about. The role of a good NLP practitioner is to teach the client that they have choices about their states, and that they can enter resourceful states as required. Again, this teaching does not happen through discussion only, but through directly experiencing changes in states.
Here are some states that you may wish to evoke in yourself or client when you wish to move away from some compulsive behavior:
Here are some transitional or interruptive states that you may wish to evoke in yourself or client in order to interrupt an old program, and prepare for new learning:
And here are some resourceful states to which we would anchor new positive behaviors:
- Going for It
- Bring yourself to an uptime state
Open up all your input channels including your site your hearing and your feelings in the present moment. Become acutely aware of the signals being sent out by the person in front of you.
- Assist the person in accessing the state
Think of a time when you felt _, and give it a name. What would it be like if you were thinking or feeling _, right now? Do you know anyone who thinks or feels _?
- Clarify the essential aspects of the state
What about this state captures the essence of it for you? What about this state makes it distinct from all other states for you? Avoid emotionally or semantically loaded references.
- Elicit the state in a congruent and precise manner
Carefully choose your questions, and support those questions with voice tone and body language congruent with the question.
- Give the elicited state time and space to emerge
Remain comfortably in silence while the elicited state forms and expresses itself. Comfortably reward small steps in the right direction, using confirmations such as "that's right", "there you go", etc. If the client responds with "I can't", then encourage them to act as if it were possible, and "what would that state be like"?
- Use vague language patterns in order to elicit a trans-derivational search
Integrate commands such as "just think about", "you know", "try to understand", "could you teach me", "can you remember", "try to experience", "just notice", "become aware", in order to encourage the client to go inside and search their experience.
- Watch and listen for and match the person's predicates
Remain in tune with the person while listening for sensory predicates, such as seeing, hearing, or feeling parts of the state you are eliciting. When eliciting a past state, encourage the person to see what they saw, hear what they heard, and feel what they felt. When eliciting a hypothetical state, encourage the person to see what they would see, hear what they would hear, and feel what they would feel.
- Use good downtime suggestions to light up the neurology
Help the person go deeper inside to more fully experience the state in their neurology. You can just feel those feelings again now, can't you? You can just make the picture older and brighter, while you make the sound deeper, and the flow of emotion more powerful, can't you? Now you can double the sensation, and double it again! When to Use This Pattern: Use State Elicitation as part of almost any NLP intervention. Remember that it is an art, and not a science. Pay attention to the person in front of you as you ask for the state to come out!
Many persistent problems in relationships are caused by one or both partners becoming stuck in an un-resourceful state, leading to more and more problems caused by acting out of that state. With courage and skill the partners can learn that states can be changed rapidly and effectively, allowing better outcomes to flow out of that state. It is important to be able to go into a learning state when studying, a relaxed state at the end of the day, a pumped up state just before working out, a friendly state when meeting with the new client, a rational state when being sold, or a light trance when integrating new learnings.
Founders of NLP often asked "who is driving the bus", implying that each of us is responsible for controlling and directing our own states.
What if you were audacious with girls?
Just think about it for a second. If you were audacious with girls then you would go hunt for girls with more accuracy and get their numbers and call them and get to go over and sleep with them all the time. You know girls love it when you're audacious with them.
The elicitation of a hypothetical (counterfactual) state!!!
Emotional grooming is primarily a specific use of language.
A “groomer” skillfully plays with words, learns to identify what the perceived victim wants to hear, and uses this knowledge, for personal gain, to direct and to keep the focus of her attention exclusively to meeting his emotional and physical needs — at the expense of her own. A groomer takes pleasure in skillfully causing pain to increase his sense of control in keeping her anxiously focused on not upsetting or angering him. To a woman or teen, it can feel confusing, and is. It is a form of thought control known to jam up the otherwise amazing critical thinking capacities of human brains.
Why does emotional grooming work?
An emotional groomer would not be anywhere near as effective, however, were it not for complementary cultural conditioning that paves the way for women from girlhood to be at risk of falling into the mind traps. As a complement to the notion of rightful male dominance, the same cultural forces emotionally groom women from girlhood to believe one or more of the following:
To believe in romanticized notions of female passivity and accept these as norms. To believe their value and worth as human beings, unlike men’s, is based primarily on meeting the needs of others, i.e., husband, children. To hold that a good woman, according to this doctrine, never looks to her own needs, and that only “selfish” women do that. To think it’s their job to meet men’s need to feel more important, entitled, etc., and thus, to behave like children, dependent, helpless, in need of men to take care of them, protect them, make decisions for them, etc. To regard women who do not “know their place” bad, evil or dangerous to society, emasculating or hurtful to men. Thus, to accept the notion that a ‘real’ man ‘should’ subdue women who do not know their place, much like parents do in response to unruly or disobedient children. These expectations naturally promote distance and a parent-child type of relationship that, from the start, has no chance of developing into healthy emotionally intimacy. Safe to say, this is also a training that indoctrinates women into codependency behaviors as norms.
Notably, that these cultural expectations are also either-or thinking patterns that, in addition to denying our human nature, portray both men and women’s nature in extremes. Women are described as either passive and moral, or wild and dangerously out of control, for example, incapable of being good mothers and spouses. Similarly, men are either respectable and dominant (over women, children and weak men), or spineless doormats or gay.
Subconsciously, men and women’s behaviors are controlled by emotion taboos that instill them with shame, guilt and fear associated with their value as human beings.
What’s the worst thing to call a woman in our culture? Selfish. And, the worst thing to call a man? A sissy (a girl). These cultural values amount to training for men and women to adopt addictive relating patterns overall in the directions of narcissism and codependency, respectively. These can be, and are, uniquely expressed in as many ways as there are couples, and with varying degrees of overlapping in the dynamics. They also foster parenting that is characterized by narcissism that puts children at risk for abuse.
The emotional groomer’s tools, language, and tactics?
According to the authors of Unmasking Sexual Con Games, a groomer employs the following three basic tools to remain in control of a perceived victim’s emotions.
A ‘caring protector’ – The groomer portrays himself as a caring protector, and lulls her into thinking he is the only one she can and must trust and depend on for her emotional and physical care. He professes his “love” to get sex, i.e., “it’s okay…I’ll always take good care of you.”
A ‘loyal oath to secrecy’ – The groomer gets her to agree to secrecy, to loyally protect his image from being tarnished in any way; thus, she’s responsible for keeping secret any abuse or acting out on his part. He persuades her that their relationship is ‘special,’ and that if she were to disclose any abuse, no one would understand, that this would hurt him and make him feel insecure, and that she would be blamed for not making him or others happy. (In more extreme cases, he may threaten to hurt her, others, himself if she discloses.)
A ‘victim’ – The groomer also portrays himself as her victim. Like all narcissists, he has a very fragile ego and cannot handle not getting his needs met. He persuades her that it’s her fault whenever he acts out physically or sexually, and not his, and that he wouldn’t act out if she would stop making him angry. If she would just do what she’s supposed to do, he scolds, he wouldn’t have hurt her. He blames her for his unhappiness, often reminding her that she is incapable of making him happy, that she always fails him, that he has been hurt in the past, that he needs her to make up for what others have done to him, i.e., in his childhood, or past relationships, etc.
A groomer goes beyond the typical “pick-up lines,” and uses language in a distinct way that is specifically geared to:
Gain her complete and unquestioning trust, so she solely depends on him. Isolate her from others, so he possesses exclusive rights to her attention. Threaten and intimidate her to give in to his demands without questioning him. Blame her for any abuse he commits against her, himself or others. Treat her as an object that does not have feelings, wants, thoughts. etc., of her own. Make her feel like he’s doing her a favor by keeping her around. Reinforce his position as “the boss.” To achieve the above aims, an “emotional groomer” skillfully uses some or all of the following tactics:
Jealousy and possessiveness – He lets her know she his “territory” and that it is natural for him to ensure no one else is “messing” with her mind or body. This reflects an insatiable neediness to be in control, and to have her attention completely focused on him, his needs, and so on. Use of insecurity – He vacillates between: (1) acting insecure, seeking pity, or asking for constant reassurance of her love and loyalty; and (2) instilling her with a sense of insecurity, making her think that no one else wants her, that she is stupid, or incapable of caring for herself, and so on. Anger powered by blame – He uses outbursts of anger to get what he wants and makes her think she’s to blame for his anger outbursts, and that, unless she gives in to his demands, her life will be miserable. (This can be potentially dangerous, if the anger becomes an addictive pattern associated with a “high” or a rush of power, even more so in cases where a pattern forms of first hurting her, then getting sex as a reward.) Intimidation – Similar to anger, he uses an array of “don’t mess with me or else” tactics, which can be scary words, facial expressions, or physical gestures, or even sexually suggestive behaviors, all of which serve his intention to keep her at a perceived lower status than him, where she fears harm or disapproval. Accusations – He turns minor or innocent events into occasions to accuse her of betrayal, disloyalty, etc. — and may even make up lies to falsely accuse her just to play with her mind. This again stems from a neediness to have her anxiously focused on him, on his pain, hurts, or need for her to assure him that he is the “only one” that matters to her, etc. (This can put children at risk of neglect, abuse, etc., in cases where the groomer demands that his needs take excessive priority over the children’s.) Flattery – He knows how to use language to impress, give compliments, appear trustworthy, and so on, providing it serves his purpose. Thus, he knows how to make her think she is the greatest (but only to him). This differs from praise, in that it is shallow, insincere, and often sexually graphic, inappropriate and unwanted. It may also occur only when the goal is to get sex or position himself to keep her dependent on him in a perceived competition with another a source of care and protection, i.e., her family. Status – He uses his status, i.e., popularity, career or athletic success to lure her into giving sex, and makes it known that, by giving her his time and attention, he is doing her a favor. A groomer also seeks to maintain his status with other males by being sexual, i.e., boasting how sexed up he is, how much sex he gets, how many women are after him, etc. Bribery – He buys material things with the expectation that he is then entitled to get sex as “pay back” for spending “his” money on her. These thought control tactics are part of the grooming process, designed to shape her beliefs so that they conform to promoting his personal aims for her to make him ‘feel’ that he is superior, entitled, and in possession of her emotional needs for his own. The beliefs he seeks to instill include, that:
Sex is proof of or equates to love. It is normal to have a sustained, intense sexual desire. She is defective or inferior to the extent that she wants less sex than he does. Sexual behavior is woman’s “duty” or “responsibility” to men. Sex is the ultimate proof of her love or “loyalty and devotion.” It’s normal for him to be in charge of her wants, body and activities as he knows better. His possessiveness is evidence of his love, care, protection (thus, she should feel grateful, beholden). It’s her “job” to make him “feel” that he is superior to others, more entitled, and that she makes this, and him, her focus. Looking over these tactics, and the beliefs that drive them, it is evident that, to a great extent, they have been widely regarded, in varying degrees, among men in particular, as “normal” ways that men (or the ones with “status” or “power”) are expected to relate to women to get sex and to keep women “in their place.” This is especially true for men who consider themselves as having “traditional family” values.
Even men who wouldn’t consider these behaviors may secretly admire men whom they perceive as having the “power” to “keep woman in their place.” Many of these practices are so ingrained in our culture that even couples who set out wanting or thinking they have a healthy partnership, at some point, find their romance turns into a power struggle.
So, how did we get to where we are today?
How did sexual relations between men and women become more about performance and power-over games to prove superiority or to emotionally overpower the will of another?
The real culprit is a cultural belief system that associates human worth with external standards of performance, and defines ‘power’ as the ability of one human being to render another powerless (which at best is only an illusion). These beliefs cause harm as they teach us to judge ourselves and one another harshly, to distort who we are with enemy-images in our minds, in ways that cause us to feel disconnected from one another. Because we are relational beings, judgements are the root of our suffering.
It started at the beginning of Western culture when political leaders decided to structure a ‘social order’ based upon a ‘might makes right’ philosophy for their political gain.
A philosophy of ‘might makes right’ as a political tool?
According to Riane Eisler, in her seminal work, The Chalice and The Blade, the notion of dominance as a ‘natural social order’ has philosophical roots in the ‘might makes right’ ideology originated by the Sophists, a group of men who, with regard to morals and ethics, exemplified the thinking of political rulers throughout history from its beginnings in Ancient Greece.
Theirs was the first official lie-by-design-for-political-gain school of thought.
Unlike other philosophers who contemplated the big ethical questions of life, the Sophists were primarily interested in the mechanics of how language can be used to control human behavior. Sophists were paid well to help rulers write speeches and win court cases through the use of twisted arguments and paradox (not unlike what is known in modern times as Orwellian doublethink). A ‘might makes right’ ideology posits that the right to rule over others is just, and earned, on the basis of proving one’s strength, wealth and, or armed might. Members of the ruling class competed with one another to attain what was considered the top prize (to do wrong and not get caught), and to avoid what was the worst humiliation (to be wronged and not get revenge). Fabricated lies, of the doublethink variety, were necessary for one very good reason, well understood by political rulers and sociology researchers alike — physical strength or violence alone do not work to oppress or dominate human beings. The power of the pen has been instrumental in promoting the notion that dominance was not only ‘natural’ but also ordained by God. The ruling elites, influenced by the philosophical teachings of Plato, crafted The Noble Lie to persuade the masses to think of their rulers as gods and being ruled over as a sacred benefit for their protection. Naturally, similar beliefs have been used to enslave groups throughout history.
The writings of one of the most most influential shapers of Western thought, Aristotle, for example, taught that only two classes of people exist, those “meant to rule” and those ‘meant to be ruled.’ He also decided women’s influence on men was a hindrance to their political aims for maintaining an oligarchic social order, that women were a contaminating influence on the masculine spirit. Thus, unlike his mentor Plato, he promoted the idea that men should be educated separately from women.
In his view, women’s education should be narrowly focused to teach women to accept their ‘place’ in society was: to bring pleasure and comfort to husbands and sons. Aristotle’s works were highly regarded handbooks by ruling elites and clergy for many centuries well into the Medieval period. Aristotle was even canonized by the church in Medieval times as a pagan saint.
As for his ideas regarding women’s education, they were upheld and reinforced by other Western philosophers well into the 20th century. In the words of 18th century philosopher, educationalist and essayist of Romanticism, Jean-Jacques Rousseau:
“A woman’s education must therefore be planned in relation to man. To be pleasing in his sight, to win his respect and love, to train him in childhood, to tend to him in manhood, to counsel and console, to make his life pleasant and happy, these are the duties of woman for all time, and this is what should be taught while she is young. The further we depart from this principle, the further we shall be from our goal, and all our precepts will fail to secure her happiness for our own.” ~ JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU, Book 5 of Emile, 1762.
Taking the perspective that all of the tactics men and women use, in fact, reflect their best efforts of each to fulfill their emotional needs for both love and connection, on the one hand, and recognition and value for their unique contributions, we can see the futility both women and men face in our culture in contexts that place high value on male dominance and female passivity.
“To be happy in one’s home is better than to be a chief. ” ~ YORUBA PROVERB
Witting or unwittingly, the notions of rightful dominance have been reinforced by cultural institutions, such as family, school, church, military, among others, throughout history.
Perhaps no cultural forces have been more effective in shaping cultural norms, however, than pornography and other mass media. Pornography has played a big role in eroticizing dominance and predatory behaviors. It also eroticizes violence, and associates the tactics of emotional groomers with male virility, and illusions that women want this from men. Dominance as a norm, if we remove the sexual component, also negatively impacts other key social relationships, in particular, that of parent and child. Children of narcissistic parents are most at risk of abuse. The hallmark of narcissism is lack of empathy. Both narcissistic and antisocial personality disorders, psychologist Dr. Stanton Samenow notes, have “a lot in common,” the two key traits being lack of empathy and victimizers, and the main difference is the narcissist “has been shrewd or slick enough not to get caught. It is also ineffective and harmful in employer-employee relations. Truly effective leaders do not dominate, they lead. And, there’s a world of difference between the two. Those who dominate are ruthless, self-centered, and lack empathy, in short, as Dr. Ronald Rigggio points out, it’s what happens when narcissism and leadership collide. How can dominance be natural, if force, violence and trickery must be used? It’s an Orweillian contradiction, or doublethink. It’s like saying ‘war is peace’ or ‘ignorance is bliss’ or ‘slavery is freedom’ which totalitarian rulers do, by the way, to cripple the otherwise amazing abilities of our brain.
Also, how can dominance be natural, if it harms the body, physically and emotionally? Recent studies link social dominance behaviors in primates with health risks and high stress levels and parasites and infection.
One couple’s story – Sandy and Bob
Subconsciously, the particular ways we learn to cope with stress teach, or wire, our brain to know what and when to release those feel-good chemicals.
These perceptual patterns have shaped the story of our life, what we tell ourselves regarding what it means to be a man or a woman, what it means to be in a couple relationship, to be human, and what we believe we and others ‘must’ do so that we feel connected to our value, etc. What drives most all of our behaviors is this inner drive to matter. Because we are relationship beings, this means we seek to matter in relation to life around us and those who mean a lot to us. The mental map of the world that we built in our minds, as children, is still the one most of us are working with today. Our early expectations about what we had to do to get our needs for love and value are still there. Whenever we want to change something and it stubbornly persists, it is because of these resistant neural patterns, or early survival-love maps. Neural patterns associated with fear regarding our self-worth and value are essentially about instinctual drives to ensure our survival, in this case, emotional survival. Early survival-love maps are enduring neural patterns, often highly resistant to change. We can change them, however, with determination, passion and strong reason to do so. The discovery that our brain is open to making changes, known as plasticity, throughout our life is good news.
Here’s Sandy and Bob’s story of hope (not actual names of clients):
Sandy and Bob were married for seven years when they came to see me. Bob’s demands for Sandy to perform uncomfortable sex had been out of control for several years, and, in the last few years, she often fantasized about leaving him. It was not until she discovered that Bob had a serious credit card debt, and he disclosed his addiction to phone sex and prostitutes, however, that they considered therapy. She had lost hope, and wanted to leave; he was hoping to save his marriage.
Sandy chose to move to her own place when they started therapy, to “clear her mind,” and only saw or talked to Bob in weekly sessions or to arrange for the care of their daughters. They came for individual therapy, and joint sessions weekly.
In their first years together, Sandy was “okay” with Bob’s pornography habit. In fact, she enjoyed pleasing him by acting as if she liked it. Bob told her that he often boasted to his friends about her — because “she wasn’t squeamish” about pornography like their wives, and she was open to trying “new” things. Sandy felt proud of her ‘status’ and competed with the women in their group of friends to maintain it. Bob also told her that, unlike his friends that cheated on their wives, he didn’t have to look outside of his marriage to fulfill his fantasies. For a long time, she hid her discomfort with his “new” demands. If she hinted at ‘no,’ it seemed, he pursued her even more. She always gave in. The more she wanted to lessen the frequency, the more frequently he wanted sex. She began to notice he only touched her when he wanted sex. She felt increasingly sickened, and could no longer hide it. This did not slow Bob down. Even when she complained, he quickly dismissed her, and acted as if he knew her better, “baby, you know you like this, you know you want this,” he would repeat. She kept her thoughts and feelings to herself. She put on 30 pounds, hated how she looked, dreaded sex, and felt guilty about her feelings of disgust for Bob.
Sandy played along to please Bob, believing it was her responsibility. She also feared that he would cheat on her if she did not comply. He had “emotionally groomed” her to make sure nothing she did upset or angered him. He became increasingly dismissive and irritable with her, and their two young daughters. She felt hurt, confused, and used. It was a familiar feeling, however. Her step-father had used her for sex from age 7 to 17, until the time she left home to get married. He too had “emotionally groomed” her to believe what they had was special, that he needed her to take care of him, that it was her job to keep their secret. If she told anyone, he warned, she would be guilty of hurting him and others.
It was not easy, yet Sandy ‘got’ that it was not healthy for her to own the responsibility for the success of her marriage, and that it was Bob’s responsibility to learn to calm his angry feelings, and not hers. They explored how pornography, as a set of beliefs that objectify women, and men, had had a dehumanizing effect on each of them. Bob had to face beliefs that prevented him from seeing Sandy as a separate and unique person, with feelings, wants, dreams of her own. It was not easy for Sandy to be empathically present to her own wants, and to learn to make clear requests. It was hard for Bob to be empathically present to Sandy’s needs and requests, and even more painful to allow himself to ‘see’ how much he had hurt and betrayed her, and to write and deliver a lengthy apology from his heart to hers. It was challenging for Bob to be present and vulnerable in their interactions, and to see this new ability to feel vulnerable as a strength. Together, they embraced new ways of rebuilding their emotional relational system, as individuals and a couple, from the ground up.
Both genders have been swimming in culturally endorsed values romanticizing dominance that distort human nature and the power of our stories. Men and women are, first and foremost, human beings with profound yearnings to meaningfully connect, to be recognized and valued for who they are as individuals, to contribute to life and others.
Essentially, the limitations placed on men and women frustrate the needs of both—and, ultimately, invite internalized or externalized resentment, mistrust and rage from which, depending on other variables, such as the extent to which partners have experienced trauma in childhood, blocks emotional intimacy and healthy sexual relations. Maintaining a healthy sense of self, while also nurturing a healthy relationship, in these contexts is a possibility only in fairy tales.
Speaking of tales, here are two very short yet enjoyable reads, written as fairy tales for adults; one that portrays the inner struggle of men with intimacy, and the other of women with finding their voice. (It’s useful for partners to read both, and not unusual for men and women to report finding their story in both.)
The Knight in Rusty Armorby Robert Fisher. The Princess Who Believed In Fairy Tales: A Story For Modern Times by Marcia Grad. Yes, men and women are unique in many ways (yay!). In truth, as human beings, both share the same core relational needs to feel safe, valued and recognized as unique individuals. These are deeply profound, hard-wired instincts, the pursuit of which shapes most every human behavior. At deeper levels, both also share the same core fears, regarding whether they feel safe, valued, accepted and recognized for the person they are.
Hopefully, bringing these life distorting cultural stories into the open would allow us, as men and women, to have conversations together, about forging new stories together, new neural patterns in our brains, ones that release us from addictive relating patterns, to integrate new understandings, so that we may reclaim our intrinsic sense of worth in relation to one another, first and foremost, as human beings.
It’s only fair to ask that, as a society of leaders, we consciously seek to foster cultural contexts that, in the very least, make it less challenging for both sexes to heal and thrive as individuals and partners in mutually enriching relationships.
Beattie, Melody (1992). Co-Dependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself. Center City, MN: Hazelden.
Schaeffer, Brenda (2009). Is it Love or Is It Addiction? Center City, MN: Hazelden.
Schneider, Jennifer P. (2010). Sex, Lies, And Forgiveness: Couples Speaking Out on Healing From Sex Addiction., 3rd Edition.Tucson, AZ: Recovery Resources Press.
Weiss, Robert, Patrick Carnes & Stephanie Carnes (2009). Mending a Shattered Heart: A Guide for Partners of Sex Addicts. Carefree, AZ: Gentle Path Press.
Emotions Can Be Chosen.
- I choose to feel good :D
- If dad gets cross with me then I choose to stay relaxed and fun about it.
‘Think of a problem.’ Those four words are used repeatedly throughout NLP trainings because most of the time NLP techniques are used in a prescriptive manner. That means that, after the fact, we can examine a problem, make new choices and mentally rehearse a more ideal performance in the future. But what about those events that we haven’t prepared for? Is it possible to shift from negative feelings to more resourceful feelings in the moment, without prior planning or an external trigger?
I remember a time when I had to travel from New York to Boston for an important family event. Very early on a hot August morning, I went to pick up the rental car I had reserved a week before. The rental agent told me that, because some cars hadn’t been returned yet, I’d have to wait until one came in or make other arrangements. I finally got a car—two hours later. Now I was stuck in morning rush hour. Worse, there was a lot of repaving being done on the highway and the heat left a lot of overheated cars stalled on the road. When I finally got to Boston (having missed the wedding and most of the reception) I was in an awful mood. One of my nephews, who was six at the time, asked me why I was so grumpy. I told him the whole story: the car rental, the traffic, the heat… And then he said, “But Uncle Kevin, you’re not driving now.”
Instant state change! One moment, I’m grumpy and reliving all the unpleasantness of the morning, and the next I’m enjoying myself.
At that point, I knew that positive state changes could happen suddenly, and faster than any NLP technique I had learned so far. But I didn’t know how to generate them for myself. They were always a reaction to something external, usually something someone else said to me. Yet I was very curious about how we could learn to do the same thing for ourselves.
Emotions are Choices
William Glasser, M.D. in his book Choice Theory makes a strong case for the idea that emotions are choices; even when they don’t feel like it. Using my trip to Boston as an example, he would say that the reason I was grumpy with my family was not because I spent most of the day stuck in traffic, but because at the reception I was choosing to generate grumpy emotions.
Whether or not emotions are choices is true, it is a very useful assumption. Here’s an experiment. Pretend that you are grumpy and mentally label your experience each of these ways:
- I am grumpy.
- I am feeling grumpy.
- I am choosing to feel grumpy. What are the differences for you? Which gives you the greatest freedom (and responsibility)?
When I taught my first Master Practitioner class, at graduation one of my students told me that he had just solved a big mystery: that much of what I taught in class was geared toward recognizing that we can choose how we feel. This was a powerful revelation for him—he had spent much of his life being angry, thinking he had no choice about it. He asked me why I didn’t just tell everyone at the start that emotions can be chosen. “Who would have believed me?” I asked him.
Some people try to suppress or hide their emotions. Others venerate them, with the idea that ALL emotions have to be fully expressed, preferably with an audience, before an emotion is complete. I don’t think emotions should be suppressed or avoided, but I’m surprised how often what I’m feeling seems to have been chosen blindly, without considering more than one possibility,
Here’s another experiment to illustrate the ephemeral nature of emotions. Think of a small task that you can do, should get done and have been putting off. When you think about it, what emotions do you feel?
Next, ask yourself “Is there any reason I can’t put off deciding how I’ll feel about doing this until after it’s done?” (I got this question from Jeff Bond during a brainstorming session.)
Notice what happens. In my experience, both with myself and with my students and clients, if the answer is no, the negative feeling spontaneously disappears and we go and do the thing that we had been putting of.
The following two techniques are tools to help you choose your emotions more thoughtfully. They are so simple and quick that it’s hard to believe they work until you try them out for yourself.
I use both techniques by themselves and within reimprinting and belief change processes. Once learned, either technique can be used without a guide, without prior planning and almost anywhere. Despite their simplicity, they are innately ecological because they move a person into a place of emotional freedom.
I would love to hear how you use these or any other “almost instant state change” techniques you’ve discovered.
Choice theory states that:
- all we do is behave,
- almost all behavior is chosen, and
- we are driven by our genes to satisfy five basic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom and fun.
In practice, the most important need is love and belonging, as closeness and connectedness with the people we care about is a requisite for satisfying all of the needs.
Choice theory, with the Seven Caring Habits, replaces external control psychology and the Seven Deadly Habits. External control, the present psychology of almost all people in the world, is destructive to relationships. When used, it will destroy the ability of one or both to find satisfaction in that relationship and will result in a disconnection from each other. Being disconnected is the source of almost all human problems such as what is called mental illness, drug addiction, violence, crime, school failure, spousal abuse, to mention a few.
Relationships and our Habits
Seven Caring Habits Seven Deadly Habits
- Supporting 1. Criticizing
- Encouraging 2. Blaming
- Listening 3. Complaining
- Accepting 4. Nagging
- Trusting 5. Threatening
- Respecting 6. Punishing
- Negotiating differences 7. Bribing, rewarding to control
The Ten Axioms of Choice Theory
The only person whose behavior we can control is our own.
All we can give another person is information.
All long-lasting psychological problems are relationship problems.
The problem relationship is always part of our present life.
What happened in the past has everything to do with what we are today, but we can only satisfy our basic needs right now and plan to continue satisfying them in the future.
We can only satisfy our needs by satisfying the pictures in our Quality World.
All we do is behave.
All behavior is Total Behavior and is made up of four components: acting, thinking, feeling and physiology.
All Total Behavior is chosen, but we only have direct control over the acting and thinking components. We can only control our feeling and physiology indirectly through how we choose to act and think.
All Total Behavior is designated by verbs and named by the part that is the most recognizable.
The Cloud Technique
The Cloud Technique is especially useful because you can do it on your own, just about anywhere. And once you become familiar with it, it takes less than thirty seconds to choose a more resourceful state.
One client I was working with wanted to go back to school and complete her education but was worried that she would fail again. She was terrified of asking questions in classes, and whenever I asked her to imagine asking a question in class, she’d start crying. Given the broader scope of what she wanted to accomplish, I didn’t want to spend all our time on this. I had a hunch that a clear demonstration that she had choice about her emotions would be a great start to our work together.
I began by explaining that any emotion she feels had been generated—by her—just a fraction of second before. Then I asked her to stand up and imagine being in a classroom again; her posture stiffened, her face got pale and she stopped breathing. I told her to imagine the feelings she was feeling as a cloud around her. I asked her to describe the color, size and motion of the cloud. (She described it as large, black and sluggish.) I then had her step out of it, walk away from it; then look back at it. I said, “Now we have to work fast because–without a human there to create that emotion–the cloud will disperse quickly.” I asked her, “Given what you want in the big picture, is that emotion serving you well?” She said, “No, it’s not!” I told her, “Even though the cloud is already beginning to disperse, blow it out like a candle.”
In another location, I had her imagine a matrix for a different emotion that might be more useful. She chose confidence. I then asked her to step into the matrix to turn on feelings of confidence like a cloud around her, and then think of being in a classroom. She was breathing easily, her posture was relaxed and she could easily imagine asking her teacher questions. (She was also stunned that it could be this easy).
This was an amazing change, especially considering that it had taken less than a minute. But we weren’t done yet. I wanted her to have a richer experience of emotional choice. I took her through three more emotions: humor, curiosity and “feeling larger than the situation.” Each new emotion allowed her to participate in the classroom experience in different ways—and most importantly she got to practice evaluating the influence of different emotions and changing among them quickly and easily. With this as a foundation, the strategy and belief work which followed were a piece of cake for both of us.
Use this technique whenever you are feeling unresourceful. And trust yourself—occasionally you will not be able to change your state this easily. Respect that, in those cases, your unconscious knows that a change would be unecological.
Here are the steps:
Imagine the emotion you are feeling as a cloud around you. Notice its color, size and movement.
Walk out of the cloud, leaving it where you were standing. Look at the cloud and quickly ask yourself one of the following questions:
Given the big picture, is that serving me well? Given the big picture, is that helping my communication?
If the emotion is serving you well, step back into it and choose it.
If it’s not serving you well, blow out the emotion—which was dissipating quickly anyway (because there is no human being in it to generate it)—and go to step five.
In another location, pick a new emotion to try on. Imagine it as just a framework which will turn on as soon as you step into it. Step into it and feel this new emotion as a cloud around you: Will this serve you better? If so, you’re ready to move forward in the situation; if not, step out and try out other emotions until you find one or more that meet the needs of the situation.
Types Of Fun?
What Makes Games Engaging?
Games are FUN Mary Poppins “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap! The job’s a game.”
What Things are Fun?
Winning Problem-solving (surmounting challenges) Exploring (e.g. finding something new) Chilling out (e.g. relaxing at the beach) Teamwork (people generally enjoy cooperation and collaboration) Recognition (being told of doing a good job) Triumphing (winning over losers) Collecting (e.g. collecting stamps, coins) Surprise (something unexpected) Imagination (e.g. day dreaming) Sharing (people generally feel good when sharing) Role playing Customization (making something of our own) Goofing off (exploring the opportunity to be silly) Nicole Lazzaro’s 4 Keys to More Emotion Without Story
- Easy Fun
Fun that is casual, light and nice e.g. chilling out, goofing, hanging out with friends
- Hard Fun
Fun that represents accomplishment e..g challenges, problem solving, mastery, competition, overcoming obstacles
- People Fun
Fun that requires people e.g. socializing, interacting with others, working as a team
- Serious Fun
Serious real objectives that are meaningful e.g. working on something good for the planet, for the family, for the community Marc LeBlanc’s 8 Kinds of Fun
Fun can (and should) be designed Fun can be challenging Appeal to different kinds of fun Thefuntheory.org
The Play Belt Bottle Bank Arcade Machine The Speed Camera Lottery The Piano Staircase The World’s Deepest Bin Example: Linkedin
Profile completeness progress bar Feedback Progression Completion
The Tunnel Technique
I use the Tunnel Technique quite often when guiding a client through a reimprint. Once I was guiding a woman through a reimprint of sexual abuse as a child; the younger self felt guilty for what had happened. With my client associated into her younger self, I asked her to notice where she felt the feelings of guilt in in her body. She said it was like a heavy chain around the inside of her throat. I had her move the feeling outside of herself and imagine it taking on the form of a doorway. Then I explained to her that sometimes emotions have to be gone through in order to feel something else. And that there was a rule for the next step, that no matter what she felt once she entered the doorway, she had to keep moving to find out what was on the other side. She agreed to keep in motion once she entered the tunnel, and then she opened the doorway and stepped into it. It took her about 30 seconds before she found the exit at the other end. When she stepped out of the tunnel, the next thing she felt was rage at her mother for not protecting her. We then did the Tunnel Technique with the rage and when she went through that, she emerged out the other side into what she described as freedom and compassion. As a result of this change, which took less than two minutes, the resources that she chose for herself and the other people in the reimprint were less prescriptive and more generative.
It’s not possible to predict what you’ll find at the other end of the tunnel; fear can turn into compassion, anger can turn into a sense of peace and wholeness. And every time I’ve used this technique, the resources clients chose for themselves were much more creative and generative than a typical reimprint because they were choosing resources from a place of wholeness rather than a place of fear or hurt.
Use this technique whenever you have an old feeling that from an observer position seems inappropriate to the situation—like in the example, where my client’s younger self was feeling guilt for something an adult did to her.
Here are the steps:
Notice where in your body you feel the emotion. With your hands, remove it from yourself and put it front of you. Expand the image until it’s the size and shape of a doorway.
On the other side of the doorway is a tunnel of the emotion. In a moment, you will enter the tunnel and walk through it to find out what is on the other side. But there is a rule: once entering the tunnel you must keep walking.
Having agreed to keep moving your feet, step into the tunnel, close the door behind you, and feel the emotion surrounding you as you keep moving until you discover the exit on the other side. (This has never taken more than 30 seconds.)
Going through the emotion and out the other side typically moves a person into a very different place emotionally. Going through guilt can lead to freedom, going through rage can lead to compassion, but as in the above example sometimes it goes to other strong emotions which have been suppressed or masked. When that happens, go through that emotion as well until you’ve reached a place which feels healthy and whole.
AMAZING Facts About Human Emotions
Human Emotions and Instincts
Emotion is typically defined as a response to stimuli that involves physiological changes (increased pulse rate, increased body temperature, activity of certain glands, increased or decreased breathing rate), which motivate a person to act. Simply put, emotions are the feelings of the mind, the equivalent of what physical sensations are to the body.c In Greek myth, many of the ills that plagued mankind were creatures of emotion, such as revenge, spite, and envy. Released by the goddess Pandora, they sought to torment the world.e Ancient doctors believed that different organs controlled certain moods. Happiness, for example, came from the heart, anger from the liver, and fear from the kidneys.c Studies show that connecting a brand to a consumer on an emotional level is one of the most powerful advertising techniques. For example, Nike’s pervasive theme of “success in sports” focuses on a key emotional trigger and that has built sponsorships, advertising, and business empires.b In the 17th century, René Descartes viewed the body’s emotional apparatus as largely hydraulic. He believed that when a person felt angry or sad it was because certain internal valves opened and released such fluids as bile and phlegm.a In the English language, there are more than 400 words assigned to emotions and sentiments.d A study in the Journal of Consumer Research notes that people who think more abstractly respond better to ads that portray mixed emotions compared to those who think at a more concrete level.b fashionable woman Clothing both affects and reflects emotional states A recent study suggests a strong correlation between wearing certain clothes and emotional states. For example, it revealed that women who are depressed or sad are more likely to wear baggy tops, sweatshirts, or jeans. Women who had more positive emotions were more likely to wear a favorite dress or jewelry and generally look nicer.h The word “emotion” is from the Latin emovere, “to move out, remove, agitate: from ex-“out” + movere, “to move.” c The word “instinct” is from the Latin instinctus meaning “instigation, impulse”—which is related to the Proto-Indo-European *steig-, “to prick, stick, or pierce.”c Some researchers fear that technology, particularly social networking, is creating emotional disconnection rather than connection.f Emotional abuse is similar to brainwashing in that it attempts to systematically wear away a person’s self-confidence, self-worth, and self-concept. Emotional abuse can take many forms, including using economic power to control, threatening to leave, degrading, belittling, continually criticizing, name calling, or shouting.e Any emotion has three components: 1) physiological changes (e.g., acceleration of heart rate) 2) behavioral response, such as a tendency to escape from or stay in contact with whatever is causing the emotion, and 3) a subjective experience, such as feeling angry, happy, or sad.e Historically, psychologists have disagreed as to whether emotions arise before an action, occur at the same time as an action, or are a response to automatic physiological process.c Most neuroscientists distinguish between the words “emotion” and “feeling.” They use “emotion” to describe the brain’s auto-programmed response to certain stimuli, and “feeling” to describe our conscious impression of that response.e Charles Darwin believed that emotions were beneficial for evolution because emotions improved chances of survival. For example, the brain uses emotion to keep us away from a dangerous animal (fear), away from rotting food and fecal matter (disgust), in control of our resources (anger), and in pursuit of a good meal or a good mate (pleasure and lust).d Types of triggers that humans are evolutionarily prepared to fear, such as caged snakes, evoke a visceral response even though humans know they are relatively harmless on a cognitive level. However, humans are less likely to react with fear to dangerous risks that evolution has not prepared them for, such as hamburgers, smoking, and unsafe sex, even though most people recognize the danger on a cognitive level.c Most scientists believe that basic emotions are innate rather than learned. For example, people who are born blind and have never seen faces still display the typical facial expressions of the basic emotions.c A 1980 study by Robert Plutchik proposed eight primary innate emotions: joy, acceptance, fear, surprise, sadness, disgust, anger, and anticipation. He suggests that complex emotions such as guilt and love are derived from combinations of primary emotions.c emotion Facial expressions control emotion Studies show that if people adjust their facial expression to reflect an emotion, they actually begin to feel that emotion.c Research has shown that the expression and experience of negative emotions (e.g., depression and anxiety) show higher activation in the right frontal cortex and in the deeper brain structures, such as the amygdala, while positive emotions are accompanied by more left frontal cortex activity.c Colors can profoundly affect emotional responses. While not everyone experiences the same emotion in response to a particular color, most people find reds and oranges stimulating and blues and purples restful. In contrast, gray, brown, black, or white tend to be emotionally dulling. In fact, studies reveal that children playing in an orange room were friendlier, alert, creative, and less irritable than children in playrooms painted white, brown, and black.e Researchers note that when concealing a strong emotion, people tend to let out “micro-expressions,” or sudden leakages, of emotion unbeknownst to themselves very briefly, in as little as a 24th of a second.c unhappy people Emotions, especially negative ones, are contagious Emotions are contagious. Negative or unpleasant emotions are more contagious than neutral or positive emotions.c Only humans are known to express the emotion astonishment with their mouth agape. However, there appear to be more similarities than differences in the way animals, especially primates, and humans express such basic emotions as anger, fear, happiness, and sadness. In fact, because animals and humans express similar kinds of emotions, Charles Darwin believed the emotional difference between animals and humans is largely one of complexity and not of kind.c Studies show that mothers are less tolerant of crying in boys than in girls, suggesting that the way emotions are expressed by adults are instilled by mothers during the child’s infancy.c Studies show that men and women experience the same amount of emotion, but women tend to show it more.e The visually appealing presentations of unhealthy food in menus subtly arouse emotions in consumers. Scientists argue that if people understood those emotions better, they would make better food choices.e Many psychologists consider instinct and emotion similar in that both are automatic. For example, fear is both an emotion and an instinct. However, while instincts are immediate, irrational, and innate, emotions have the potential to be more rational and part of a complex feedback system linking biology, behavior, and cognition.c While researchers have not found any culture where people spontaneously smile when disgusted or frown when they are happy, they have found some oddities. For example, the Japanese have a harder time discerning anger in a face and they tend to mask their facial expressions of unpleasant feelings more than did Americans.c sketchy smile Smiles are the most deceptive facial expression Of all facial expressions, the smile may be the most deceptive. There are around 18 different smiles, including polite, cruel, false, self-effacing, and so on. But only one reflects genuine happiness; this is known as the Duchenne smile, in honor of the French neurologist who determined this phenomenon, Guillaume-Benjamin-Amand Duchenne (de Boulogne).c Researchers note that the emotion most associated with fear is interest. Some psychologists have gone so far as to suggest that fear has two invisible faces: one, the wish to flee and, second, the wish to investigate.c Plato described emotion and reason as two horses pulling us in opposite directions. However, modern neurologist Antonio Damasio argues that reasoning depends on emotion and is not in opposition to emotion.a Body language often reveals emotion. For example, a person standing with their arms on hips with elbows turned outward is an example of a territorial display. Someone with their hands folded and their thumbs popped up indicates that he or she has something positive to say. Touching the nose indicates someone is hiding something. A former FBI agent and specialist in nonverbal communication states that the “feet provide the strongest body language signals.”e Studies reveal that people recognize and interpret the emotional facial expressions of those in their own race faster than those who are a different race.e From silent films to cartoons such as Tom and Jerry to films such as Psycho and Jaws, music is a widely used stimulus that evokes a variety of emotional responses. Generally music in a major key is happy, while music in a minor key is sad. Spoken voices also reflect this tonality. Interestingly, certain emotional tones in music are cross-cultural.e A study of those with amnesia found that the emotions tied to a memory outlast the memories that created them. Researchers note this has important implications for those with Alzheimer’s disease.d Using its site WeFeelFine.org, Stanford University analyzed around 13 million emotions that have been recorded on the Web since 2005. They found older people are usually happier, but for different reasons. Younger people are happy when they are excited, older people are happier when they are at peace. Additionally, women tend to feel more loved than men, but also feel more guilt. Men often feel happier, yet lonelier. They also found that the happiest time of day is lunchtime.g A human can make over 10,000 facial expressions to express a wide variety of subtle emotions.c Several scientists claim that there is always some emotion occurring in the body, but the emotion is too slight for us to notice or affect what we do.c BOTOX® injections may decrease the signs of aging, but do so at the cost of making the face less animated and more unemotional. Paradoxically, less animated people are less attractive to others.c -- Posted July 30, 2012
a Damasio, Antonio R. 2003. Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain. New York NY: Harcourt, Inc.
b Dooley, Roger. “Emotional Ads Work Best.” Neuromarketing. July 27, 2009. Accessed: June 10, 2012.
c Eckman, Paul. 2003. Emotions Revealed. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, LLC.
d Franklin, Deborah. “Emotions Outlast the Memories That Drive Them.” NPR. April 13, 2010. Accessed: June 10, 2012.
e MacDonald, Matthew. 2008. Your Brain: The Missing Manual. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Media, Inc.
f Sandler, Elana Premack. “Facebook, Emotions, and Identity: The Social Network and Teen Emotional Health.” Psychology Today. March 30, 2011. Accessed: June 10, 2012.
g Saunders, Dan. “The Statistics of Emotions.” Experimentation. March 2011. Accessed: June 10, 2012.
h Weaver, Rheyanne. “The Link between Clothing Choices and Emotional States.” Good Therapy. March 30, 2012. Accessed: June 10, 2012.
Why Do We Have Sex?
Why do you sleep at night? This is seemingly a simple question. But in fact it is a most difficult question, as of yet unanswered by science. Many seemingly simple questions are, on close inspection, not at all easy to answer. One of these—perhaps the most interesting—is why we have sex.
Why do you want sex? The usual answer is, of course, based on the known reproductive function of sex. We want sex because our continued existence as a species depends on it. Children come from sex, one learns. And the thing about the stork is just a story.
But the facts on the ground undermine this assumption. First, people continue to engage in sex long after they have stopped having children. Often, their sex lives actually get better, because there are no more worries about unplanned pregnancy (or, a bit later, about Junior popping up bedside mid-action saying he needs to pee).
Which leads us to the following fact: most sex happening right now around the world is not procreative. On the contrary, most of those getting busy at this moment would be shocked and upset to find that their joyful acrobatics have resulted in pregnancy. An intense interest in sex and eroticism is not necessarily linked to heightened interest in producing offspring. In fact, those interests are often inversely related.
Moreover, many sexual behaviors we commonly engage in, even in the fertile years, are not related to reproduction at all. If sex is for reproduction, how is the mechanism of sexual pleasure organized regarding anal or oral sex? And why are you holding hands with your boyfriend? Children do not come of it. Besides, you also hold hands with your three-year-old niece. What's going on here? And what is reproductive about someone pulling your hair? In fact, why does the business of genital, reproductive pleasure spread to all kinds of remote areas not related to reproduction, such as shoulders (very sexy in the nineteenth century), the neck (sexual attraction in Japanese culture), or breasts (contemporary American obsession)? And if a man has a biological urge to find a good mother for his offspring, why do men routinely differentiate between a ‘sexy’ woman and a ‘motherly’ one, and prefer the former to the latter?
Now you say, “Okay, let’s forget all the biology. Why complicate things? Sex feels good. It is a pleasure. I have sex for fun.” But that argument is unsatisfactory as well. It turns out the desire for physical pleasure is NOT the most important reason for sexual activity.
Research shows that the physical pleasure of genital stimulation is not necessarily an important component in the decision to have sex. Researchers Cindy Meston and David Buss a few years ago asked 400 students about their reasons for engaging in sex. After processing the data and eliminating similar or identical answers, they were left with a list of 237 different reasons for sex, including "I wanted to give him an STD,” "I felt sorry for him", "To punish myself", and "I lost a bet."
The truth is, many people are having sex right now without pleasure or any expectation of it. If it’s pleasure you want, if you desire a nice orgasm, you'll get there faster—and cheaper, with more certainty and less risk of pregnancy and disease—through masturbation. So why are you having sex with your partner? And why, when you do masturbate, are you fantasizing about him (or about someone, anyway)?
It turns out that the deep experience of sexual pleasure depends somehow on the presence, and conduct, of others. A brutal illustration of this principle can be found in prostitution. On its face, prostitution is a cold business—the epitome of (mostly male) selfish pleasure seeking. The customer buys physical sexual release for money, plain and simple. But the customer can give himself an orgasm, for free. So why pay? And why is the customer's enjoyment increased if the prostitute produces the sounds of enjoyment and sexual arousal? If the client's motivation is selfish sexual release, the satisfaction of a biological urge, why does it matter to him if the prostitute is aroused? What excites him about the thought that she is enjoying herself? Fundamental social, interpersonal dynamics are apparently present even here, inside the most alienated transaction.
Beyond that, let's face it, sex is not automatically enjoyable. Remember your first sexual experience. It was not fun. Some mouth-breathing, pimpled nudnik from chemistry class felt you up in the back seat of your dad’s Chevy, forced a wet tongue into your ear because his friend saw something on the Internet about how that’s what you’re supposed to do. And then he asked if you came. Or take for example the business of kissing. What is fun in exchanging saliva and dinner remnants with someone else? Even if we focus on the genitals, most of the sexual organs are very sensitive to touch—for better or worse. If someone touches your genitals clumsily, or when you're not ready or do not want to be touched, the contact will be painful, offensive, and disgusting, not exciting and pleasurable. Good sex is learned; you have to work for it. It does not show up on its own. And it is not just about you alone. Sexual pleasure, it seems, is set up, operated, defined, and organized by external factors.
Randall Collins (link is external), the great American sociologist who’s been writing on the subject for decades (and on whose work many of the musings above are based), argues quite persuasively that human sexuality can be fully understood only in a social context. Human beings, fundamentally, are distinctly, spectacularly social. Lonely and isolated, we cannot survive, let alone thrive. For us, power and meaning emerge through making connections. Sexual desire, thus, is not chiefly aimed at physical pleasure or the production of children, but at connectedness with others. Sexual pleasure is fundamentally a social construct, an emergent property of social exchange.
According to Collins, we construct our world in an ongoing series of complex 'interaction rituals' that enable our existence (physical) and give it meaning (mental, spiritual). All aspects of our lives are conducted through these ceremonies. Conversations between friends, a day's work, a football game, Sunday at church—all these are interaction rituals. They may be different in content, but they are similar in their underlying social and psychological processes: they all involve gathering people into a group whose members are aware of each other, directing their attention to a common interest, sharing a strong emerging emotion, and defining clear boundaries between 'us' and 'them'.
In this context, sex is an interactive ritual, and it follows the rules. In a sexual encounter, a small group gathers (usually two, no more). Participants are aware of the presence of the other (no one ever tells you in the middle of intercourse, "Wow, I just noticed you are here"), and their attention is directed to the common interest (they 'make love'). Participants share a powerful emotion, in this case sexual arousal, and construct a clear definition of ‘us' and 'them', ('us' are in here having sex, and ‘them’, poor slobs, are outside; they should not watch us, interrupt us, or even know all the particulars about that we’re doing).
The results of such interaction rituals—whether at church or in bed--are also predictable: the solidarity between participants increases (at church, we’re united under God; in bed, we’re faithful to each other), the mental energy builds up (I'm strong in my faith; I am deeply in love). From the encounter, especially if it’s repeated, canonical memories will be chosen to symbolize the relationship to the partners (forty years in the desert; forty minutes at that boutique hotel in Ventura), certain objects will be imbued with a sacred quality (a cross; a wedding ring), and certain gestures will be chosen to clarify the boundaries of the relationship--demarcate what is ours only and distinguishes us from others (we drink the blood of Christ; only we can touch each other there).
According to Collins, a thorough understanding of sexuality is only possible if we look at it from the perspective of the social context, rather than examining it from the perspective of the individual. The dancer becomes such by virtue of the existence of the dance. Instead of saying "Every dog has its day," we should say, "Every day has its dog." You and your lover do not bring your sexual pleasure to the relationship. You get sexual pleasure from the relationship. Your body parts do not charge the relationship with sexual pleasure. The interaction charges your body with sexual pleasure. Pleasure is not derived from the physical stimulation of the genitals or from the possibility of giving birth to the next Bill Gates. In its most fundamental sense, sexual pleasure is derived from the synchronized cooperation between people. The whole of human contact is larger than the sum of its participating individual parts—possessing better resilience, greater wisdom, and deeper delights. Therefore we seek that whole everywhere, including in sex.
At the end of the day, sex is truly pleasurable because through it we may transcend our aloneness and form a meaningful bond with another human being.
She is PROVOKING me.
I have no choice. My actions follow from her sexy ways provoking me. I give to her, because that is socially supported.