NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Thursday, October 5, 2023

What is Sexual Self Awareness?

In her book, Taking Sexy Back - How to Own Your Sexuality & Create the Relationships You Want, psychotherapist and relationship expert Dr. Alexandra Solomon discusses relational self awareness and a component of relational self awareness, which is sexual self awareness (see my article: Why is Self Awareness So Important to You as an Individual and in Your Relationship?).

What is Sexual Self Awareness?

What is Relational Self Awareness?
According to Dr. Solomon, relational self awareness includes:
  • Self Reflection
  • Self Knowledge
  • Sexual Awareness
  • Self Expression
  • Self Expansion
Relational self awareness involves a paradigm shift from focusing on finding the "right person" to focusing on yourself and becoming the "right person."

Instead of focusing outward, you focus inward in a curious and compassionate way, and by focusing on yourself you can create a healthy relationship with yourself.

In addition, you can discover your strengths, challenges and blind spots.

What is Sexual Self Awareness?
Sexual self awareness, which is the focus of this article, is an aspect of relational self awareness (see my article: Tips on Sexual Self Discovery).

What is Sexual Self Awareness?

Sexual self awareness is about getting curious about your thoughts, feelings and beliefs and how they affect your sexual relationship with yourself as well as with a partner.

Questions to Ask Yourself
The following questions can help you to develop sexual self awareness:
  • What were you told (or not told) about sex when you were growing up?
  • How were you told about sex and how did you feel about what you were told?
  • What was the impact of these early messages on you as a child and now as an adult?
  • Did you grow up in a sex positive or sex negative environment or was sex not even discussed?
  • What early childhood experiences affect how you feel about sex as an adult?
  • Do you feel you deserve sexual pleasure, including self pleasure and pleasure with a partner? Why or why not?
  • Do you feel uncomfortable with certain parts of your body to the point where you feel ashamed?
  • Do you have a sense of disgust about how you smell (e.g., a healthy vaginal smell)?
  • Are you uncomfortable touching your body so you avoid masturbation or avoid coming into direct contact with your genitals?
  • If you give yourself negative messages, how does it affect your sexual relationship with yourself?
  • Do you compare your body, including your genitals, to what you see in porn and in social media?
  • Are you too ashamed or scared to get regular medical check-ups (e.g, seeing OB-GYN for annual exams)?
In terms of your own sexual pleasure, instead of only focusing on pleasing your partner or just going along with sex because you think your partner "needs it," focus on yourself and consider:
  • Why are you having sex? 
    • For pleasure? 
    • For emotional connection? 
    • For procreation? 
    • Or for all of the above?
    • Different aspects of the above at different times and with different people?
  • What gets you sexually turned on?
    • How comfortable do you feel about getting sexually turned on?
    • What is your experience in your body of feeling turned on?
    • What does it feel like emotionally?
    • What does it feel like physically?
    • What does it feel like mentally?

Take the Time to Reflect on Your Sexual Self Awareness
Developing sexual self awareness will help you to understand what motivates you to have sex, how you developed your thoughts, feelings and beliefs about sex and what gets you sexually aroused mentally, physically and emotionally.

Taking the time to reflect on these aspects of yourself can also help you to develop sexual self esteem.

What is Sexual Self Awareness?

The questions posed in this article can help you to have a healthy relationship with solo sex (masturbation) as well as partnered sex (see my article: Keeping an Erotic Journal For Sexual Self Discovery).

If you're in a relationship, you and your partner can each spend time working on these questions on your own. Then you can come together to share your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and experiences. This can bring you closer together and help you to appreciate the positive aspects of your sex life as well as the areas you both want to work on.

If you're not in a relationship, developing sexual self awareness can help you understand yourself.  And if you want to get into a relationship, you'll have a better understanding of what you want from a partner.

Getting Help in Sex Therapy
Many people didn't get the sex education they needed when they were growing up.

In addition, a lot of sex education is fear based in terms of learning only about the risk factors but not about the pleasurable aspects of sex.  This can create a sense of guilt and shame.

Sex therapy, which is a form of talk therapy, can help you to overcome shame and guilt as well as learn to develop a positive sexual awareness (see my article:  What is Sex Therapy?).

Individual adults and couples seek help in sex therapy for variety of issues (see my article: What Are Common Issues Discussed in Sex Therapy?).

There is no nudity, physical exams or sex during sex therapy sessions (see my article: What Are Common Misconceptions About Sex Therapy?).

Rather than struggling on your own, seek help from a licensed mental health professional who is a sex therapist so you can have a more fulfilling sex life.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex Therapist.

I am a sex positive therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.