Life Lessons From The Male Member

The penis may be trying to teach men valuable lessons about himself and life.

Posted Jan 26, 2014

There is an old challenge regarding how much control a man has over his body: will yourself an erection. The point is that you can’t even completely control your body. This is one of several lessons that a penis can teach.

The first is that you have less control than you think. Humans like to believe they have a great amount of control in their lives. Self-efficacy, which has to do with the belief you can accomplish a task, is associated with better mental health. In other words, the more you believe you have control over something, the more mentally stable you are. Yet the opposite can be true as well.

The world is unpredictable. There are times we cannot control something, and this often throws one into despair or despondency. The realization in a moment of crisis that one has little control is terrifying. But it can be argued that it is healthier to understand and accept that life is unpredictable, that many things are less predictable than we think, and that we can be healthier in that belief.

For example, you can’t watch a sporting event without seeing commercials for medication for erectile dysfunction. Men are often despondent when experiencing it, feeling ashamed, defensive, and emasculated. This is all because a part of their body didn’t work when they wanted it to. According to Sex Therapist Lisa Thomas, LMFT, in her Psychology Today blog “Save Your Sex Life”, ED is often caused by anxiety. It is my contention anxiety is frequently a result of worrying about something we can’t control.

I’m not saying ED isn’t a medical issue for some people. Of course it is. Yet nearly all men will experience it at some point, and often there is a psychological reason (performance anxiety, depression, nervousness). And, as studies have indicated, the more one worries about it, the higher the risk. Simply, there is a lack of control which leads to worry.

One of the techniques for overcoming ED is to not have sexual intercourse, but simply to caress and be with your partner. This relieves the pressure of having to perform, and often the individual becomes so enthralled (and erect) that he breaks the rule and needs to have sex. This again exemplifies the importance of mindfulness, of just being, without thought of the future or the past. It also illustrates the effectiveness of not worrying (in this case, about performance, because there is to be none). It can be also argued that the person has accepted his ED and this has contributed to better functioning.

Perhaps a key to happiness is accepting the lack of control in our lives (see “Let Go, Be Happy”). Acceptance is a contributor to happiness. When one accepts what they cannot change (after evaluating what they do and do not have control over) relief and serenity follow. People spend an inordinate amount of energy worrying about things they cannot control.

An additional area sex can tell you about yourself are in your fantasies. As Carl Jung has suggested, often our dreams and fantasies are projections of our inner archetypes. This could be especially true for the Shadow. For example, if you fantasize about being dominant, perhaps you’re uncomfortable with that desire in your daily persona. This denied, shadow aspect of yourself finds its ways into your fantasy. This can indicate something in yourself you are trying to deny exists. Conversely, if you fantasize about being dominated, perhaps your persona is too dominant in actuality. 

Another lesson is that people are still animals. We like to ignore our nature, pretend we are so much more evolved, and yet we have much more in common with animals than we’d like to admit. As I wrote in “Sex Affects Your Thinking, and You Don’t Seem to Care”, sex is more in control of our actions and behavior than we’d like to admit. The drive to survive, to continue the species, and specifically, our gene pool, may be at the root of nearly all decisions. Nevertheless we walk through life distracted by all the bells and whistles life provides. For males the penis will often remind that beneath everything, you are still an animal.

A third lesson is that your body may teach you a lesson (or try to). I have heard of men who, when faced with the choice of infidelity, have trouble getting an erection. Their guilt overwhelms their physical desire. This can occur in other ways as well. If a man takes on more than he can handle, or if he becomes arrogant instead of humble, he might find himself with a bout of ED. As Lisa Thomas, LMFT suggests, a related contributor might be the relationship. Perhaps one needs to look there when experiencing these difficulties. In these cases perhaps his member is communicating a message, again trying to teach a life lesson.

A final, and perhaps the most important place that the male member may provide a lesson, is in regard to enlightenment. As I wrote in my first Psychology Today post (Having Sex? Here Is Your Chance To Reach Enlightenment) sex can be a time when one becomes one with the moment. It is certainly a place where it is encouraged to put all other thoughts and concerns aside, and simply experience the other. And the euphoria that accompanies the connection and or an orgasm, combined with being in the moment, can lead to a feeling of connection with the universe, an unsurmounted euphoria and receptiveness.

In the book, “Zen Sex”, Sudo argues that Zen Master Ikkyu might have the right idea: sex isn’t to be shunned and denied, but embraced as a path to enlightenment. The goal is to be completely present, to realize what it is to really be alive. Sex can be a path to this realization.

There are many places lessons occur in life. It is my contention lessons such as the unpredictability of life, the lack of control we have in it, the role of acceptance, as well as the importance of being in the moment are a few of the most important lessons. Perhaps a man’s penis occasionally teaches him valuable lessons about himself and about life. Rather than hindering him from enlightenment, it may guide toward it, if he is able to garner the lessons.

Copyright William Berry, 2014 


Sudo, Philip Toshio; 2000; Zen Sex: The Way of Making Love.

Thomas, Lisa; 2010;

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