Last week I wrote about the relationship between a person’s sense of Self and sexuality and sexual activity. I mentioned that in adults reclaiming their sexuality from the dark history of Irish Catholicism, that attention to Self-esteem needs to precede the work on sexuality; this is true for the adults themselves as well as for the young people they would wish to possess a mature sexuality and responsible sexual behaviour.
The level of self-esteem reflects how connected or distracted we or young people are from our true Self and in the different forms of Self-expression – emotional, social, behavioural, physical, intellectual, sexual, creative and spiritual. Each individual’s level of self-esteem arises from their earlier experiences of the ways that parents, teachers and other significant adults reflected back his or her worthiness, unconditional lovability, essential goodness and rightness and intelligence beyond measure. Relationship is the holding ground for children to stay connected to their true nature, but they are dependent on the significant adults in their lives to have come to a place of Self-realisation, which, sadly, is only true for a small percentage of adults. In our materialistic culture, we spend too little time on the essential work of knowing Self and too much time in feeding the illusions that relationships with others or prestige or success or status or wealth or drugs or work will fulfil us. The cycle of low self-esteem will continue until adults take on the responsibility of Self-realisation.
One’s relationship with one’s Self is the necessary holding ground for adults to access their fullness, not relationships with others. Whilst children depend on adults to mirror their unique presence, adults need to step away from such dependence and discover their worth through an enduring unconditional relationship with Self.
In order for adults to reconnect to their true Self there are realisations that need to be consciously practised, as follows:
- ‘I am a once off happening in this universe, unique, sacred, powerful beyond measure. I do not need to conform to anyone’s image of how I ought to be.’
- ‘My feelings – welfare and emergency – are my truest barometer of what happens within me and the mature action that is required. My feelings are my most powerful allies in discovering a life that is right and fitting for me and that is worthy of me.’
- ‘My body serves me well; it is right in its uniqueness. I need to care for it and honour it.’
- ‘I have limitless intelligence that enables me to make decisions and choices, to decide on what values sit well with me, to solve problems and to take mature action for my Self.’
- ‘I have the power to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as is appropriate for me.’
- ‘I have a God-like nature that enables me to love Self, to love others and receive love from others. I am always deserving of loving respect in my interactions with others, and they with me.’
In adults reclaiming their true sense of Self, it can be seen that the process is both a heart and head phenomenon. For many men, the challenge is for them to reconnect with their hearts and for many women the challenge is to reconnect with their heads. It can also be seen that for adults Self-realisation is an inside-out rather than an outside-in development.
It is only those adults who are connected (at least most of the time!) to their true Self that can ensure that children stay connected to their true Self and to act out spontaneously from their true nature, which is always good. Adults who are in a mature place can quickly spot the young person who is insecure and distanced from Self and knows that the young person’s concept of sexuality will have been adversely affected and that sexual activity will be defensive rather than authentic.
It can also be seen then that young people’s sexuality is most powerfully held when it is responded to in the contexts of one, how the young person feels about Self and, two, the present totality of expressions available to the young person. The young person is better enabled to make safe, mature sexual choices for Self when s(he) has the physical safety to look after her (or his) own body, when s(he) has the emotional safety to follow her (or his) own feelings in a sexual situation, when s(he) has the intellectual safety to make up her (or his) own mind about what is right for her (or him), when s(he) has the social safety to not conform and stay true to Self and, finally, when s(he) has the behavioural safety to take ownership of and responsibility for her (or his) own actions and their consequences.
Dr. Tony Humphreys practices as a clinical psychologist and is author of several books, including Whose Life Are You Living?