Confidence and Joy Are The Keys to a Great Sex Life: Emily Nagoski (Transcript)

But first, I need to talk to you about a cartoon panda. Have you seen the movie “Kung Fu Panda”? It’s about a cartoon panda named Po. He becomes a kung-fu master – “Kung Fu Panda” – by diligent effort, the support of his teacher and the wisdom of the Dragon Scroll.

The Dragon Scroll contains the key to limitless power.  And when Po first gets his hands on the Dragon Scroll he is disappointed because there’s nothing written on it. It’s blank. It just reflects his face.

And then comes his epiphany: There is no secret ingredient. It’s just you. And that is how you get your hands on the keys that unlock the door to your own authentic sexual well-being, by turning toward your own internal experience with calm curiosity. Ooh! What’s that?

Because it turns out the key to limitless power is you.

And now I will tell you the two concrete, specific, evidence-based things that you can do in order to increase your grasp on these two keys of confidence and joy. Ready?

Thing #1: What I want you to do is stand in front of a mirror as close to naked as you can tolerate. It gets worse. So what you’re going to do is look at what you see there, and you’re going to write down everything that you see that you like. Of course, first your brain will flood with culturally-constructed messages about how your body falls short of the culturally-constructed ideal, that’s fine.

You have every other minute of the day to have those self-critical thoughts, just set them aside, temporarily. Right now, you will write down the things you see that you like. If it is your eyelashes, write that down. If it’s your toenails, write that down.

And then do it again tomorrow. And then do it again the next day, and the next day, and the more often you do it, the more obvious it will become to you what a frickin’ frackin’ miracle your body is, and the more immune you’ll become to all the cultural, noisy crap that’s hitting the brakes.

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Option #2: If you genuinely cannot imagine looking in a mirror and seeing anything there that you would like, here’s what I want you to do instead. I want you to get into a calm, quiet state of mind, just for a couple of minutes each day, and I want you to visualize that door, that door that stands between you and your authentic sexual well-being.

And what I want you to do when you can see it really clearly, is that I want you to shine a beacon of kindness and compassion on the door.

Because here’s the thing about the door: It’s not innate, you weren’t born with it. It was constructed in your brain by your life experience and by your culture, and you may hate the culture that built that door, you may work to change the culture that built that door, but never turn toward the door itself with hate, because the door is part of you too. And it is not random, it’s there to do some work.

If you’ve been shamed for what’s on the other side of that door, if you have been shamed for your sexuality — and who hasn’t? — that door is there trying to protect you from social isolation and judgement.

If you have had what’s behind that door — if you had your own sexuality used against you as a weapon, if you’re a survivor of sexual violence, your door is there doing really important work.

I’m talking here about one in four — you’ve heard these statistics already — one in four women in America, one in six men. One in four women in this room, one in six men. And two thirds of transgender folks. If that’s you, your door is doing the hard work of helping you to survive in a world where your own sexuality can be used against you as a weapon, and it is working.

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You know how I can tell? Here you are. Surviving. And I am so grateful to your door for doing that really important work, and I don’t know if your door might be ready to open a little bit or if your door needs to stay closed a little while longer, but I know that the first step is always to turn toward the door with kindness and compassion.

Confidence is knowing what’s true about you, your sexuality, your internal experience. Joy is loving what’s true even when it’s not what you were taught “should” be true.

I’m a sex educator. It’s the best job in the world! I teach people to live with confidence and joy inside their bodies, but really all that means is I offer them the science that helps them find the way back to themselves.

Because it turns out we all really are. Oh, who am I kidding? We’re not just normal. We, the human species, we’re amazing! We — all of us — are beguiling, we are courageous, God knows we are delectable, we are all the way down the alphabet to “yopping” and “zesty.”

Your body. It’s you guys! Your body is perfect. Exactly the way it is. The science says so. And now you can prove it.

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