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Performance anxiety: break the vicious cycle

By Joseph Pond

Today's topic is very hard to discuss for some men, or not. According to a large study which was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, about 40% of men experience erectile dysfunction (ED), at least occasionally.

When a client comes to me about ED, I can't see them unless they've been to the GP to rule out physical causes, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. There are also behavioural factors. Pornography can be a major contributor to impotence. If that applies to you, stop it. Assuming that no physical or behavioural cause has been discovered, a lot can be achieved by mindfulness and other mental tools.

Stress and anxiety cause flaccidity. It's a vicious cycle because, after happening once, a man is apt to worry and stress about it happening again, which leads to another inability to perform, and so on. The first step is learning how to stop these nagging thoughts and the second is to focus on the now.

I teach men the Stop It exercise to help them get off this cycle. The instant you find yourself engaged in negative self-talk, silently shout, "STOP". Then, swipe your hands in front of your face to dispel any mental image that may accompany the thought, as though wiping a whiteboard clean. Finally, change your physiology: jump, breathe, stretch, turn over, etc.

After you do this, return to your thoughts, this time telling yourself that you're a masculine man. See yourself being one. If the performance anxiety comes back, run through these steps again. People understand that weight training is not something you do once. Brain training is no different.

Mindfulness, which trains one's awareness to focus on the present moment, is invaluable. The body scan, a form of mindfulness where you tune into what's happening in your physical body, is particularly good. See, if you're embodied during sex, rather than being in the mind, chances are that everything is going to work as it should. This is equally true for women who experience similar challenges.

Finally, I've recorded a hypnotic mp3 about ED which I'll send to anyone who wants it.

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Joseph Pond is a clinical hypnotherapist, an acupuncturist, and a mindfulness instructor. He is co-founder of Hypnosis Explorers NI and conducts workshops in hypnosis with PowerTrance.Reach him at or at Hypnosis/ ?ref=hl/?ref=hl

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