Exploring The Inner Aspects of Your Sexual Self

Sex is an outward act, but sexuality is created from within.

By: Cheryl Fagan, Sexologist
Exploring The Inner Aspects of Your Sexual Self

What comes to mind for you when you read the phrase, “explore your sexuality or sexual self?” In our Western culture, post-Sexual Revolution, this statement conveys trying a new toy, partner, lube, or lingerie… But what about the idea of exploring your sexual self as an opportunity to go within, to look deeper, and to get to the soul of what sex means to you? We’re talking about understanding and rē•defining your sexual energy, freedom, limitations, curiosities, and whatever else you uncover therein.

Your Inner Journey to Sexual Selfhood

Popular advice typically addresses the external body, but feeling sexually confident and free requires an inner journey that is of utmost importance. It is worth taking, and I believe these unseen aspects of our inner worlds are crucial to the process of exploring our sexual self. Sexual and sensual energy has the power to influence all parts of your life. Without contemplation, you’re at the mercy of your subconscious beliefs and values. At different stages in life and relationships, it will serve you to look within, clear out old patterns, and to rē•think, or rē•spin, your underlying beliefs.
So, before you connect with others, take a moment to connect with yourself. Dig deeper than researching the latest sex tricks and tips. Instead, ask yourself the pertinent questions that will lead to self-revelation: How did you become the sexual person you are today? What are the stories around sex that you tell yourself? What boundaries and limitations have you put on yourself that halt pleasure? Has pleasure brought you sorrow in any way?

This matters because sexual selves are formed by our belief systems, experiences, and knowledge of sex. Your sexual self is developed over a lifetime, and it guides you through life. From choices about who you will date or sleep with, to the context you have around sex, to the boundaries you set, and so on. It is crucial for one’s sexual health and wellness to rē•flect on the subconscious and conscious meaning held around sex.

The Human Experience of Sexuality

Sex is this mysterious and sacred experience that can bring joy, nourishment, and liberation. At the same time, it can cause hurt, pain, shame, and self-imprisonment. It is relevant to every single person on the planet. It is part of being human. We must consider all of the realms that shape sexuality — political, personal, religious, legal, norms, and even kinks.

Exploring your sexual self means looking at how you define sex and sexuality, including how your attitudes and beliefs were developed. It takes asking yourself what your current sexual values are, then uncovering how to discover and articulate what you find pleasurable to a partner. It also reveals what your partner patterns can teach you about yourself. 

This form of “sexual self-analysis” offers a chance for you to be intimate and connect with yourself. Prioritizing yourself in this process will make your intimate experiences and relationships so much more meaningful — and more meaningful intimate experiences makes for mindful, truly liberated, playful, and nourishing sex, the kind of sex that makes you feel good about yourself.

Uncovering Your Sexual Value System

Sex is holistic, which means it involves your entire being — mind, body, heart, and soul. Therefore, when we address sex, we must consider it spiritually, physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

When it comes to the sexual You, it’s important to remember that the self exists within the community, which exists within the culture. To be in control of your own life, free from the unconscious influence of the outer culture, you have to understand how your values were and are influenced by the sexual norms of your culture of origin. Because self-reflection skills are not taught in the mainstream during our formative years, we internalize these values, beliefs, and truths — whether from family, media, friends, religion, or pop culture — and oftentimes do not question them. Yet they will not necessarily lead you to your most authentic sexual self-expression.

Consciously knowing and intentionally living by your sexual values helps direct you, makes life and relationships less stressful and leads to a meaningful life. But, left unexamined, they can cause significant internal tension and chaos. Plus, as we grow, change, and have new experiences, our values may shift — and this is normal. But this is why continual self-exploration is essential, to identify which to shed and which to keep. This is how you can ensure that you continue living in alignment.

Journaling Prompts for Being a Conscious, Sexual Being

Writing and journaling about sexual intimacy will help you connect to yourself and others. Below is a brief list of questions and prompts to journal through for greater sexual consciousness.

  1. What were the main messages (directly or indirectly) that you learned about sex?
  2. Which messages did you keep or reject?
  3. What do you like to experience in sex?
  4. In what ways are you currently curious when it comes to sex?
  5. How would you like to feel differently about sex?
  6. What would you like to learn about your sexual self?
  7. Which of the five senses is most sexual to you?
  8. What does sex mean to you?
  9. Name three things you are grateful for when it comes to your sexuality.
  10. Name a sexual wish.

With these questions, there are no right or wrong answers. Instead, they can set you out on an exploration, a chance for you to be intentional and conscious with your sexual self. Of course, if you come back to these questions, your answers might change. The important part is to identify the stories, beliefs, and values you hold about sex. This more mindfully allows you to create the sexual self you would like to be.

Image Credit: @wolfishglow

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