Vision Magazine, February 2009
Learning to love ourselves can be a challenging task and a long journey. Lying at the core of self-love are the abilities to know ourselves, like ourselves, and appreciate our strengths, while accepting our weaknesses. Expanding self-love into the sexual arena can offer even more avenues for personal growth. Unfortunately for many people, self-love and sexuality are mutually exclusive. Sexuality is often relegated to its own discrete box and does not receive the same knowledge, appreciation, and acceptance as the development of self-love and personal transformation in other areas of our lives.
When expanding self-love to our experiences and meaning around sexuality, it may be easier to first state the opposite of sexual self-love: guilt, shame, embarrassment, disconnection, body-loathing, and lack of knowledge. These emotions and mental states are the result of fear-based learning about sex and sexuality from various sources, such as restrictive religions, embarrassed parents, ignorant teachers, and idealized media images. If you begin with sexual topics where you feel anxiety or discomfort, you can identify where you have opportunity for immediate growth. The areas of body-image, masturbation, and freedom of expression can be a great place to start.
Research studies have found that how a woman perceives her body is the largest predictor of how much she enjoys her sex life. This applies to men too; often they are embarrassed by their bellies or focus on the size of their penises as an indicator of how well they can please a partner. Thoughts of covering or hiding disliked body parts can be very distracting during sexual interactions. Many women are disgusted by their thighs or their genitals, despite genuine compliments from admiring partners. This dependence on body-image for sexual esteem is a losing battle, particularly as we age in this youth-obsessed culture. A lack of body confidence means we carry an energetic weight that may unconsciously shield us from intimate opportunities.
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