Sexuality belongs to each individual and is here for his or her joy and pleasure and when emotionally and socially ready for procreation. However, while I have sexual energy, I am not my sexuality. This statement can be a source of confusion but actually the real confusion is to enmesh my sexuality with my person. This is true for all the self-expressions, so it follows that:
- I have a body but I’m not my body
- I have feelings but I’m not my feelings
- I have sexual energy but I’m not my sexual energy
- I have thoughts but I’m not my thoughts
- I engage in behaviours but I’m not my behaviours
- I long to belong but I’m not my longings
- I create many things but I’m not my creations
- I have spiritual experiences but I’m not my spiritual experiences
The enmeshment with self with any one of its expressions indicates a disconnection from my real self and an obsession or addiction to the particular expression with which I am most identified. So, for example, there are many young and, indeed, older women, who identify with their bodies and go to extremes – cosmetic surgery, strict diet, intense exercise regimens, liposuction – in order to have the ‘perfect’ body. A similar phenomenon is beginning to emerge for young men. Certainly, enjoy your body, look after it, feed it wholesome food, rest it, keep it fit, but all in moderation.
Another example arises with spiritual self-expression; it is wonderful to experience transcendence – a peace and tranquillity, a silence that is timeless – but the danger when I become addicted to having such experiences I engage in what has become known as spiritual materialism. What transpires is that I neglect all else in pursuit of spiritual ecstasy and lose connection with the true source of spirituality – my unique being.
Similarly, if I feel my sexuality is my way of getting seen in this world or it has become a substitute for the joy of being unconditionally loved, then I become obsessed with pornography, seduction, orgasm and driven to have sexual conquest after sexual conquest. There is no peace or security when I confuse my person with anything that I feel, think, say and do. Enjoy your sexual energy, share it respectfully with another, but be sure you haven’t lost connection with your authentic self in a sea of sexual obsession.
There is a fundamental belief underpinning the foregoing: it is not what I do or don’t do, it is not how I do it or don’t do it, it is not with whom I do it or don’t do it, it is who I bring to it. The who – my soul, my deep emotional self – is the crucial issue. So, if I’m physically hugging someone or sexually engaged with myself or another or expressing a feeling or thinking or talking about a particular idea or cooking a meal or having a relationship with someone or writing a book or engaging in deep meditation, who is present is the essential question. When I’m separate from all the self-expressions – not identified with any one of them – I am present; when I’m enmeshed with any one or more of the self-expressions, the self is absent, hidden behind the defensive walls of possession, obsession, confusion and unrequited longings.
There are two other confusions to be considered: sexuality with sexual behaviour and sexuality with another’s attraction to you. There exist the protective beliefs that unless somebody out there finds me sexy then I’m not sexual and if I have not engaged in sexual interaction with another I’m not sexual! Having been celibate for 7 years of my life did not mean I was not sexual. On the contrary, sexuality is there, whether I’m sexually active or not or whether or not somebody finds me sexually attractive. Individuals can suffer greatly when they are waiting for another to make them feel sexual and can feel tremendously let down – even suicidal – when, as they perceive it, the other rejects them. However, what another person says is about him or her and not about the other! It is authentic for another person to say “I don’t feel sexually attracted to you”. Attraction to another is defined by many factors –mostly unconscious – and all to do with the person himself or herself. The reality is that when a person personalises what another says he or she manifests the inner confusion of sexuality being determined by another seeing him or her as sexually attractive and there is work to be done to resolve this unhappy confusion.
The truth is that attractiveness is a given and it is up to each one of us to live out of that place and not be waiting for another to ignite us. When we struggle with accepting our own attractiveness, there is a sad story that explains how that came about and the source is in early relationships. The challenge here and now is to find your own unconditional holding of self or if this proves too threatening, to seek out a mature professional who can provide the unconditional holding for you to realise your inherent attractiveness.
Dr. Tony Humphreys is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Author and International and National Speaker. A course on Authentic Sexual Self-Expression has been devised by Dr. Helen Ruddle, Counselling Psychologist and Author and herself and her trained associates are available to provide the course. For details contact Margaret 021 4642394.