My personal experience with sexual anxiety is not uncommon among young men recently. This is what happened:
1. I experienced a time when I could not achieve an erection with a girl who I was attracted to.
2. I felt guilt and shame because I had “failed” in bed. I felt emasculated.
3. It preoccupied my mind and I worried that it would happen again.
4. I thought about it so much that it slowly became a belief. I started to believe I couldn’t perform.
5. The next time I had sex, because I had rehearsed failure so often in my brain, I couldn’t perform.
6. The cycle continued and my performance anxiety got worse as time went on — as I gathered more and more reference experiences that confirmed I couldn’t perform.
This literally ruined relationships for me and caused me to become depressed. I honestly worried that I would never be able to have normal sex again. I was only 25 years old.
You Can Overcome Performance Anxiety
If you read the above and saw some of yourself, I want you to know that you can heal and overcome this. I did. I now have an amazing, fulfilling sex life. Since recovering, I have had numerous girlfriends, flings, even one-night stands — which in the past, because of my sexual anxiety, I was always terrified of.
Quitting Porn and Masturbation
Number one in the healing was quitting porn and masturbation altogether. My escalating porn use over the years had desensitized and rewired my brain. There are many resources for “rebooting” (abstaining from porn, masturbation and orgasm for a period of time to rewire your brain) available that I recommend, my favorite of which is Gary Wilson’s yourbrainonporn.com. (I also hope over time and as I add content, that this website, rebootblueprint.com will become an important resource for men who want to “reboot” and get back their sex lives.)
But there is one thing that I feel really helped me heal faster that I haven’t seen talked about elsewhere too much — which is what I want to cover today.
The Physical Aspects of Performance Anxiety
When I was dealing with this performance anxiety, I noticed there were two things that were physically happening in my body as my performance anxiety worsened:
One, my body would noticeably tense up when I got close to having sex. My breathing would become shallow and my muscles would tense up. And because I tensed up, my erection would disappear.
And two, my body was becoming tense and stressed out in daily life. I could feel that the way I was holding my body was slightly different than before. My shoulders and neck were tense. I even started getting occasional minor headaches, which I had never experienced in the past.
And here’s the thing: for your body to get an erection, you need to be relaxed. It’s a scientific fact. In other words, by tensing up, I was sabotaging my body’s natural process of getting an erection.
But How To Change?
I knew from studying NLP and psychology that there are two ways I could attempt change:
1. Change my thought patterns and my physical self would follow.
2. Change my physical self and my thought patterns would follow.
With performance anxiety, I found it incredibly difficult to change my thoughts to more positive thoughts. It was like I was telling myself “Don’t think about a purple elephant.” What did I do? I thought about a purple elephant.
So after analyzing my problem, I decided to try and tackle it from the physical side.
What Really Worked For Me: Relaxation Techniques
This was the thing that really turned my performance anxiety around. Progressive Relaxation Techniques.
I know, sounds kind of new-agey, right? ;) Not at all in fact.
In order to change my body to be able to relax consistently, I needed to condition my body to relax. In fact my goal was to, ideally, become a more relaxed person in general.
So I started doing progressive relaxation every day for about 20 minutes. 10 minutes in the morning when I woke up, and 10 minutes before I went to sleep.
I cannot overemphasize how much this routine helped me recover. I could feel the difference physically. It helped me get in control of my body’s relaxation process, and therefore relax more during sex. And more relaxed means better erections. Not only did it help me get my “mojo” back, it also helped me to become a more laid-back and relaxed person in many other areas.
So without further ado…
My Progressive Relaxation Routine:
2x per day for 10 mins. In morning after waking and just before bed.
-Get into comfortable clothing.
-Make sure there will be no distractions (ie. phone turned off, do not disturb sign on door, tell others you are meditating so they don’t interrupt)
-Put in earplugs or use earphones (with or without relaxing music — no lyrics)
-Lay down in your bed and prop up your legs with pillows so that you are comfortable.
-Start with deep breathing. Put one hand on your chest, the other just above the navel (belly button). Count slowly to two while breathing in through the nose. Your breath should be coming from your belly, not your chest. Meaning, your hand just above the navel should be moving up and down with your breath — not your hand that’s on your chest. Count slowly to four while breathing out through your nose. Continue this for about 4 minutes while thinking about how relaxed you feel. Try to let other thoughts drift away. Focus on your breathing and on relaxing, deeper and deeper.
-Now it’s time for the progressive muscle relaxation. Continue the same breathing rhythm. Count to 2 while inhaling, 4 while exhaling. Start at your toes and as you inhale, squeeze the muscles in your toes tight so that they’re curled up (squeeze with 60% of maximum strength) . Then, as you exhale, relax your toes while letting go of all the tension there. Do this tensing and relaxing for each group of muscles, one by one, from your toes to your head:
2. Whole feet.
3. Calves/Lower leg
4. Thigh/Upper leg
6. Stomach (breathe in and hold the stomach in tightly, then exhale while relaxing the stomach muscles)
7. Hands (clench fists, release)
8. Arms (straighten, release)
9.Pecs/Chest (flex, release)
10. Shoulders (tense the muscles in your upper back to pull your shoulders back, release)
11. Head — this one is different: roll neck gently clockwise, then counterclockwise.
12. Mouth — fake a yawn while inhaling, tensing the jaw muscles somewhat. Relax with exhale.
After finishing this progressive muscle relaxation, I then do a few more minutes of the deep breathing, counting to 2 slowly while inhaling and 4 while exhaling. If I still feel that my body is somewhat tense, I will sometimes repeat the muscle tensing and relaxing process.
Guided Relaxation Mp3
Recently one of my readers let me know about a great product that I wish I’d had when I was going through this. It’s called Mental Impotence Healer and is a guided relaxation mp3 that trains your brain to relax and be in the moment during sex. I got a copy of it myself and use it daily to train my brain to relax for sex. It might sound a little cheesy, but this is exactly what I did with guided relaxation, except this mp3 program has been designed specifically for dealing with sexual performance anxiety problems. I am very careful about which products that I recommend, and I wholeheartedly recommend this one.
Have more tips on overcoming performance anxiety? Please share in the comments!