Here are the key takeaways from my interview with transformation coach, speaker, and pleasure expert Dr. Frantonia Pollins. We discuss how social conditioning limits our access to our own pleasure and makes us feel guilty or selfish for it. Explore why we need to make pleasure the center of our lives (not at the bottom of our to-do lists), how to feel pleasure, and how to develop a pleasure practice. 

Social Conditioning Limits Access to Pleasure

Patriarchal social conditioning for women reflects that our value is transactional in nature. It is based on what we do or how we serve to perform for others. Women are conditioned to see burden, strife, and overwhelm as honorable. This leads to exhaustion, regret, and emptiness.

Move from pleasure as a luxury to pleasure as a necessary ingredient in life. It is the place from which all things emerge, raising the quality of all that we do and enhancing the joy of our being.

What Should Every Woman’s #1 Priority Be?

While this is counterintuitive to social conditioning, your #1 priority should be you. You, above your children, your husband or partner, above everyone.

What is Sacred Selfishness?

Sacred selfishness focuses on pleasure and reciprocity: prioritize the benefit of any activity that you are involved in for yourself. Don’t wait for benefits on the back end of an encounter or as a leftover. Do things for you and communicate the value you expect to receive in return upfront. It’s an act of respect to ourselves and others to be clear at the outset about our expectations and desires with another person, whether it’s about collaboration, a relationship, or any other shared experience.

How to Make Space to Feel Pleasure: Your Cup and Saucer

In an analogy for energy and pleasure, consider that each woman has a cup and saucer. Here is the premise of a healthy, self-respecting relationship with yourself:

“Our cup should always be full for ourselves. We give to others from the overflow that goes onto the saucer, not from the cup.” – Dr. Frantonia Pollins

Women are conditioned that, if your cup has anything in it, then you have enough to share. So, we are giving with no expectation of reciprocity. Instead, make agreements to honor yourself that you do not betray then simply require that everyone else do the same thing.

The Four Keys to Your Pleasure Practice

Here’s how to fill your cup:

  1. The first hour of your day belongs to you. Wake up earlier and ask for support in your household so you can get quiet time
  2. During this time, walk, drink coffee, anything. If you can’t do an hour, start with 15 minutes and go up from there
  3. Spend one day in silence every month. Even if it means that you have to go to a hotel, spend time in silence to regenerate your cup
  4. Orgasm every day. Orgasm helps you move and heal your sexual energy. It is the reconnection to your life force and creative energies
  5. Be present and recognize the pleasure available to you every day. Dance, listen to the birds, make tea. Remember, we are the source of our pleasure

What If You Just Don’t Have Time?

If you find that you “don’t have time,” then ask yourself what agreements have you made and how you have structured your life to prevent quality self-care.

Women of Color, How to Prioritize Pleasure

To women of color, challenge the narrative that has been written for you. Do you think that marriage is a struggle? Does motherhood look like a sacrifice? Is religion a duty-bound performance? If so, then question it.

Integration Questions

  • How do you define pleasure? What are three simple ways you can create pleasure in your life?
  • How have you been placed in or chosen relationships that are transactional rather than transformative or mutually beneficial? In what ways are you complicit?
  • Outline your own vision quest: what is your value as an individualized human being who happens to be a woman, single mom, etc.? (All labels come with social conditioning.)
  • Write a pleasure manifesto. Consider: I don’t owe you my space or my time. Pleasure comes from within and is freely accessible to me through [make a list!]. I can choose to lovingly release people or projects from my life at will. I negotiate my expectations on the front end of agreements. I honor agreements to myself and, in turn, lovingly release people who do not honor those agreements
  • How can you negotiate your expectations and communicate your needs on the front end of endeavors, encounters, and relationships so that their benefit to you is clear?
  • As part of our social conditioning, we feel obligated to keep people in our lives who’ve betrayed us or mistreated us. You can lovingly release people from your life who don’t honor or respect you. Who and what are you ready and willing to lovingly release?
  • Clarity of expectations can be sexy, intimate, and romantic! Write a letter to your partner or future partner about your expectations in a relationship.
  • Courage and confidence to negotiate for pleasure in the bedroom reflect your ability to negotiate in the boardroom. What brings you pleasure in the bedroom? Practice asking your partner (or yourself) for what you desire.
  • Take a “mancation.” In other words, take a 90-day break from people who “need” you, such as people who call you with their problems (in Dr. Pollin’s case, she needed a break from the men in her life). Let them know ahead of time and lovingly release anyone who doesn’t respect your boundary.

About Dr. Frantonia Pollins

Dr. Frantonia Pollins is a transformational coach and speaker. She helps women conquer their fears about money and wealth and discover their unique divine purpose on the planet. Watch her TED talk and follow her on Instagram for future pleasure challenges.