rē•discovering Our Sexual Integrity

Doing the inner-work to rē-store our sexual wholeness.

By: Cheryl Fagan, Sexologist
rē•discovering Our Sexual Integrity

When you’re in true alignment and integrity, a sexually soulful and liberated life comes naturally. We are born with integrity, and many wisdom teachers reference the childlike mindset—full of faith and wonder—as the point of view that best serves us in adulthood. Consider how naturally curious children are about sex, how babies are made, and what kissing is all about. Martha Beck says, “Integrity is wholeness, and when all the pieces of yourself are working together for the same end.” I like to think of this in terms of the sexual self.

Being curious about sex is natural, but it’s important to consider our conditioning. When did you first become naturally curious about sex? How did your primary caregiver respond? With silence? Anger? Embarrassment? Eagerness? Whatever the response, it became part of your socialization and conditioning. Even comments that seem surface level—like being told you’re a heartbreaker or flirt—condition and send their recipient messages about how to behave. According to Beck’s philosophy, once we become socialized, we lose integrity to our true selves and desires. This socialization is one of two events that separate us from our true selves. The other is trauma.

Breaking societal norms and rē•framing our perception of sex

We absorb and internalize rules around sex from family, media, and society, inheriting them both implicitly and explicitly over time. When we become conscious about our sexuality or have a “sexual dysfunction,” we realize we need to look within. Integrity means living according to our values, and understanding our values helps us embrace an authentic sexual lifestyle. 

Living in true alignment and integrity often means breaking social, cultural, or community norms. Holding space for others’ truth and values, and not expecting others to always behave according to our values, is the highest expression of respect. Yet we tend to be given one singular, specific set of rules around sex and sexuality, despite our different desires, experiences, and traumas. When we hide, repress, or ignore our truth out of fear of losing someone else’s love, validation, or acceptance, seeking sexual integrity can be hard work. Disappointing parents or a loved one isn’t easy, but honoring ourselves, the desires God placed in us, our freedom, and our self-respect is critical to personal integrity. 

If certain sexual experiences—or inexperiences—cause emotional pain, this signifies that what is happening is not good for us. In the psyche, Beck says, “the deeper the lie, the more central, the greater the pain.” 

Harnessing the power of inner work

Psychotherapist Dr. Robert A. Johnson explains how the subconscious speaks to us in symbols. When we don’t commit to inner work, we cut ourselves off from our true selves, and the spirit can come to us as neurosis. The way to avoid this outcome is by consciously committing to this inner work, whether through prayer, writing, dreamwork, meditating, or another personal practice. 

It’s essential to do sexual archeology of the self. One way to do this is to rē-trace your sexual development, remembering the key messages or feelings that stuck with you. Journal through your most memorable experiences and explore how they made you feel at the time. See what comes up for you. To become whole, we must examine and integrate what is in the subconscious, and writing helps uncover that. The mind and body store a lot—which can be scary. This work can also be done in community with others. If there is a message or experience that you keep pushing down, ignoring, or numbing, it will poison you. You have to get it out. Face the pain. 

Your sexual integrity cleanse

Seek stillness as the truth rises there. Keep a journal. Beck says you don’t have to solve all your problems now, but share your truth with one person. You’ll be clearer. Tell the truth to yourself, then others. When you know your truth and values and have examined them, it doesn’t matter what others think—because you know yourself, and that is power. You’re conscious and awakened, and you can hold onto this. Be calm and compassionate with yourself. Acknowledge any pain, and accept and love yourself.

Image source: @marie_marot

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