Sexuality plays a big role in shaping the person you will become.
This fact applies to you regardless of whether you’re in a relationship and whether or not you engage in sex. Whatever your situation, acknowledging your sexuality is about being true to and accepting of yourself; it is not about anyone else. It is your responsibility to yourself. Sexuality can mean different things for different people, but it often involves allowing yourself to experience attractions, expressing interest and affection, being aware of what you want and accepting of what you feel. So it’s important to ask yourself these questions to help you uncover your own personal, honest feelings toward sexuality. These questions will help you explore the overlays that may have shaped your inner critic and separate these attitudes from your real feelings and present a different point of view about sex. You can start by asking yourself the following questions:
How did you learn about sex?
When did you first hear the word ‘’sex’’? Did your parents give you “the talk” or was sex never discussed matter-of-factly? What were you told directly? What did you pick up from the way people spoke or how they acted? What attitudes about sex surrounded you, whether from your parents, friends, community, society or even from TV? How do you think the attitudes you picked up or the information or advice you received may have influenced you when you became sexually active?
What does your inner critic say about sex?
Do you have a judgmental voice in your head when it comes to your sexuality? Does it criticize you for wanting? Does it pick apart how you look? Does it make you feel unattractive or undesirable? Does it cause you to doubt yourself or your performance? Does it filter people who are attracted to you through a negative lens? Do these “voices” make you not feel like yourself when it comes to sex? Do they hold you back or make you nervous or insecure? Do they tell you that sex is dirty or bad in some way?
If you write down these voices, try to phrase them in the second person, as “you” statements rather than “I” statements. This can help you start to separate from the critical thoughts rather than accept them at face value as your own point of view. It may even help you start to recognize where these attitudes originally come from. For example, a woman wrote down, “You should be ashamed of yourself for wanting so much. Don’t be needy. You’re so desperate and gross. Don’t let anyone know you want anything.” As she wrote, she noticed that she was imagining the words in her head in the voice of her mother. When she thought more about it, she remembered her mother frequently calling her “needy” as a little girl and warning her about seeming “desperate” to boys as a teenager. She also remembered that her mother never showed any affection to her father in her presence. This realization gave her some perspective on what she felt about sex as opposed to what her mother had expressed.
Deep down, how do you feel about sex?
Two things can be helpful when unveiling your real opinion about sex. The first is to deal with your inner voices. You may line a second sheet of paper up with the first and respond to each “you” statement with an “I” statement that’s more realistic, kind, and reflective of what you really think. For example, for the woman mentioned above, she wrote in response to her critical inner voice attack, “There is nothing wrong with wanting. I am not gross or desperate, and neither is my sexuality. I don’t have to be ashamed to express what I feel. It’s a positive part of who I am.” When you respond to your inner voices, remember to stay on your own side and keep a self-compassionate attitude. Talk to yourself like you would to a good friend.
The next thing to do is ask yourself what are your own personal beliefs about sex. What is your attitude about sexuality in relation to yourself? Towards others? What does being aware of your sexuality mean to you? How does it make you feel? What would it feel like to accept yourself in this area of your life? What is your ideal expression of your sexuality? Try to weed out your inner critic as you find your own voice.
Sexuality is a healthy and meaningful way to feel close and connected to someone else, but no one else can tell you how to feel about your sexuality. When you can uncover and accept your own feelings, you can feel much freer and more fulfilled in your sexual relationships, but you can also feel much more vital and connected within yourself.