Self Intimacy- discussion with Angela Rennie, Sex Therapist

"One of the most important sexual 

connections you can have is with

yourself" 

Angela Rennie
MA, PGDip, MA (Hons), MHS (Hons) Psychology 
Intimacy Counselling

 

Self Intimacy is undervalued in our education and mainstream absorption of what is important in sex, but, as discussed by Angela Rennie from Intimacy Counselling, connecting with yourself as a sexual person first is a vital step to sexual growth and healing. 

When people are striving to get a sexual relationship back on track or enhance their sex life, a recurring issue for many is the motivation for doing so. Often people want to do it for another person rather for themselves. And it's no wonder when every aspect of sexual culture around us tells us to be better for others, to look better, to do what the other likes. As women this is no more evident than in mainstream porn, where the sexual needs and wants of the women are, to say the least, un important. 

"Often people come with the motivation of doing it for someone else... no one felt good having sex from feeling obligated or forced to do it, so the most important connection is to get in-touch with yourself, your own sexuality and then work on being able to share that with someone else."
"If you don't know what you life, or feels good, how are you going to be able to tell your partner that. Often we're really good at telling our partners what we don't want... but we don't tell our partners what we do want... often we don't know what we want, we don't know what we like, what turns us on, what feels good."

The stigma around of self love or masturbation is only just starting to clear, and only in some cultural pockets. But for a majority of the population it is seen as

something that is not allowed,  "good girls don't do that... Mothers don't do that"

"One of the reasons I became a sex therapist is because it has been a neglected area  of wellbeing, we have religious messages, traditional conservative culture messages, 'good girls don't...' kind of things going on so I think there is a lot of encouragement of suppression of our sexuality."

"but thoughts create emotions, so if you're thinking negative thoughts about sex, that creates emotion in your body. A good start to the journey is seeing yourself in a positive and wonderful way and seeing sex in a wonderful way"

It is clear that a reconditioning of our thoughts around sex and ourselves is a process, one that can start with, as Angela often suggests to her clients, a simple mantra: 

"sex is fun and playful"

"sex is important for your wellbeing"

"but if you've been telling yourself that 'no ones going to want me' or 'sex is bad' your whole life' then its going to take time for the new mantra to stick in... say a mantra for as much as you can for a month, you want to keep saying it after that, but its going to take a month for it to start taking roots and effecting the way you see things" 

What became evident during out discussion is not only do people not think of connecting with themselves on a sexual level, but that they can in fact have a real, negative reaction to touching themselves or masturbating. 

 

 

"It is a progression... I talk to clients about getting in touch with their sensuality, which is just taking a moment each day to be present in your body and senses. Listening to the birds outside, pausing in the shower and really feeling the hot water on your skin... wearing clothes that feel nice, make you feel good. Being in your body daily."

 

 

"Then, it might be starting with your arm, get comfortable with touching your arm, trying different strokes, different pressures, you want to find a line where you feel anxious, but not where your nervous system completely freezes up. Its a reconditioning... slowly."

"if you try and jump too many steps ahead and it's just completely triggering your nervous system, then what happens is your nervous system remembers that, and every time you try and do something similar it gets triggered again and that re confirms to your nervous system thats dangerous."

"we don't want to be triggering that full fight, flight, fawn effect, but we do need to be able to tolerate some anxiety and keep moving forward."

However, we must note that this may not be the right way for everyone . This exercise can be done in couples for those who find it too difficult to touch themselves, or it may be that the triggering can due to deeper reasons which need to be worked through first. 

 Below are some videos which give some ideas to get started.