Break up with the phrase “guilty pleasure.”

angela parker journaling pleasure Mar 05, 2021

Earlier, I wrote about the power of your individual pleasure revolution, and writing your own permission slip to experience pleasure as you see fit, when you see fit. 

But feeling stuck inside the old stories or trauma about pleasure we’ve picked up throughout our lives has a way of holding us back from experiencing it fully. 

Americans have a habit of seeing pleasure as a naughty word. Not only because pleasure is derived from sex, but also because we use phrases like “guilty pleasures” to describe something as benign as enjoying a bowl of full-fat ice cream. As though pleasure is always hedonistic, and upon experiencing it we will eschew our responsibilities, our work, our families, our health, and live lives of ill-repute while residing in a van down by the river.


The phrase “guilty pleasure” is like a toxic partner who shames and guilt-trips us when we’ve done nothing wrong. It’s time to break up with it for good.


Foregoing pleasure is an American’s ultimate test of “purity.” (If I could make those scare quotes scarier, I would.)

This is not an attitude held by everyone in the Western world. Take France, for example. In the article Pleasure is good: How French children acquire a taste for life, author and Professor of Educational Psychology Mari-Anne Suizzo says:

“On a survey listing 50 parenting practices with infants and toddlers, 455 French mothers and fathers in my study rated what we called ‘stimulating practices’ as more important than responding to basic needs and teaching manners. Stimulating practices included reading to children, playing music and giving them massages. The ultimate goal of stimulating children is to develop their understanding of what gives them pleasure.”

Can you imagine how people would react if an American parent said they were teaching their child about sensuality and pleasure?

Pleasure isn’t shame- or guilt-worthy. And sensuality reaches far beyond sexual acts. Sensuality is defined as: “devoted to or preoccupied with the senses or appetites.” 

What the French parents featured in the article did with their children is exactly what I teach my journaling students to do (albeit much later in life): mindfully immerse themselves in stimulating practices to learn – or relearn – what gives them pleasure. So that they learn to trust themselves again and add more delight and value to their lives.


I invite you to journal using the following journaling prompts. 

Find a quiet, distraction-free spot and give yourself at least 11 minutes to write so that you arrive at your white-hot truth

  1. Looking back, what old story is blocking me from experiencing pleasure?
  2. Looking forward, how do I desire to be touched (physically, emotionally, spiritually)?
  3. At this moment right now, I want to touch __________. When I claim that, I notice...

I want to encourage you to use these prompts to get super curious about your relationship with pleasure and sensuality, what’s holding you back, and what you truly, deeply want and need moving forward. 

You’ve got nothing to lose, and a life with more joy and delight to gain. 

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