Four Keys to Sexual Self-Care
Updated: Dec 5, 2020
We generally understand what is healthy for the body, mind and emotions, but sexuality is a category of its own when it comes to self-care. We have received mixed messages from society and family about what we are allowed to feel within ourselves and with others. As we separate from the norms we accepted as a child, we discover a whole new world of unique, empowered sexuality. Sexual self-care is the journey we take to unveil and embody our fullest sexual potential.
The word sexuality elicits a broad range of associations. For our sake here, sexuality means the life force that drives desire, specifically as it manifests as turn-on in the body. I will use the term sexual self as a way to refer to our relationship toward our sexuality, the emotions, internal postures and perspectives that shape sexual expression.
Here are four keys to sexual self-care:
Identify inner and outer resources for comfort and safety.
Sexual energy provides an openness that allows us to be deeply impressionable. This is amazing when our impressions are safe, supported and healthy. However, for most of us, our sexual selves also contain impressions of shame and pain. Before consciously exploring sexual self-care, identifying sources for comfort and safety is essential. When a painful memory or thought arises, you will have already built the pathway to regulation.
External resourcing may start with the recognition that you are currently safe; maybe your door is locked and you can notice other qualities of security in your space. It can be nice to set a timer, so the pressure of thinking about time or your next task is eliminated. You may also choose to set up your space with items that activate your five senses. Blankets, art, cologne, food, essential oils, candles, body oils, and clothes can be supportive. It’s worth the time and effort it takes to create a special space for your sexual self-care. It is an act of recognition that your sexuality is important and deserves support.
Internal resources might include the felt sense of your body: tingles, weightiness, lightness, warmth, the consistency of your breath or heartbeat. You may also rely on concepts to support you. Here are a list to get started or inspire your own:
· My sexuality is lovable and I have nothing to hide.
· Connecting to my sexuality is an ongoing journey where I am cannot be measured in terms of “normal” or “broken.”
· My sexuality is at its fullest potential when I am aware of how it has been wounded, have compassion for myself and get help as needed.
· Connecting to my sexuality makes me healthier, more creative, and relatable.
· My sexual energy supports me to heal from old familiar wounds.
· My sexuality is a part of me and a part of nature. No matter how deeply it has been harmed, it can be healed and recreated.
· My sexuality can work in complimentary collaboration with every other aspect of my system.
Commit to your sexuality.
Sexuality is deep and wide. There is so much power, pleasure and creativity to be
discovered within it, but it takes time and practice. Making a decision to consistently show up for your sexual self is key to sexual growth. This may look like setting a time every day or a few days a week to check-in with your sexuality. This time could include journaling, meditation, self-pleasure, breathwork, education, or anything else that supports your growth. Your commitment may be an internal knowing that you will hold your sexuality with love as you go through daily experience. However commitment manifests for you, it is important to remember that building a consistent positive relationship with your sexuality over time will yield greater results than any one experience.
Give yourself permission and presence.
Sexual space is full of symbols and projections. Allow yourself permission to explore the thoughts, feelings, behaviors and instincts that arise for you without judgment. Within your contained space, you are safe. You always have the freedom to analyze and revise your experiences later. Having a specific space set for sexual exploration allows for deeper messages from your sexuality to be acknowledged on the surface rather than controlling behavior from a deep, inaccessible place within.
As you expand your capacity for permission to explore your sexuality, notice where you lose your conscious state of awareness. You might notice that you lose touch with your body at a certain point or embody a familiar experience. It is important to stay present with your sexuality rather than disassociating and ingraining unconscious patterns. When you do realize you’ve lost presence, this is a perfect time to orient to the resources you set in the beginning.
Share your discoveries.
Brené Brown is famous for her research proving that empathy is the antidote to shame. She says secrecy is like a petri dish for shame and that we must share our painful experiences with someone who can provide empathy. We heal in relationship.
Identify a person who can support and celebrate with you as you make sexual discoveries. This could be good friend, partner, or therapist. Sharing about such a sacred topic can be an art. You might start with art or journaling to express your discoveries. Then, practice sharing generally what feels safe to share.
Making the choice to grow and heal in your sexuality is incredibly brave. Sexual self-care is a doorway to vast awareness of power, emotion, relationship and meaning. If you are interested in partnering with a therapist to explore your sexuality in a deeper way, contact Veronica Welch, LMSW at firstname.lastname@example.org