Consequently, we might feel uncomfortable — or even guilty — about what arouses us. Do you listen to those who admonish you to keep to the straight and narrow? Or do you follow the school of thought that says fantasies make for healthier and more exciting relationships?
In any case, you can’t really control what arouses you; you can only avoid or deny it.
In one study, women reportedly fudged about what pictures most aroused them. The thing is, they were “wired” (like taking a polygraph test); and their physical symptoms revealed the truth that they apparently found embarrassing.
Assuming women shouldn’t have to feel guilty about what photos aroused them — they didn’t even conjure up the images, they simply looked at what a facilitator flashed in front of them — why should you have to feel guilty about what your body responds to?
More awareness of what is, however primal, can help us to make better informed choices. We don’t have to limit our consciousness to what slaps us in the face or that part of the dream we were dreaming when we awoke in a sweat.
Freud suggested we trust the unconscious. And when we trust what’s in there enough to look at more than the fragments we can’t help but see, we begin to glimpse a whole picture that helps us to make sense of all the pieces and put them together.
“All my works, all my creative activity, has come from those initial fantasies and dreams which began in 1912, almost 50 years ago. Everything that I accomplished in later life was already contained in them, although at first only in the form of emotions and images,” said Jung.
Sounds like the challenging work of a lifetime, right? Fortunately, some great pioneers have paved the way for you … just accepting permission to trust and explore what’s in your unconscious is a big leap.
Even if you indulge in what you consider a “rich” fantasy life, you may also feel guilty about it and use it as a “forbidden” escape. When you rid yourself of the guilt, you venture into the “darkness” and gain more awareness; you light the darkness. Then instead of finding a temporary escape from “reality,” you find an explanation of reality and a path toward the reality you dream of.
“Fantasies are more than substitutes for unpleasant reality; they are also dress rehearsals, plans. All acts performed in the world begin in the imagination,” said the late Barbara Grizzuti Harrison.
Perhaps if you understood why you fantasized about the neighbor, you could use that understanding to take tango lessons with your own sweetheart. Or maybe you would fantasize about you and your sweetheart 20 pounds lighter.
In other words, you might let your fantasies help to identify what you’re missing. You might let your imagination trigger dress rehearsals for what you want your life to look like.
You don’t have to be afraid to pull data from your unconscious. You can trust what’s there to reveal a truth that serves you — not just in sex, but in life.
Just as dreams can be symbolic and interpreted, so can your fantasies. And more knowledge leads to more understanding, which leads to more acceptance, which is the most fertile ground for growth.
When your dress rehearsals pay off, you can move on in your imagination to what comes next. There is no end to your fantasies, no limits to what can be.
So as it turns out, adhering to self-imposed or societal guidelines for what’s acceptable keeps you from living your ultimate fantasy of a happy life.