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Sexual Core Beliefs

"Ideas we don't know we have, have us". ~ John Hillman                       

Sexual core beliefs are the fundamental beliefs we hold about sex. They affect our sexuality more than any other factor. Often the result of early formative experiences, they can be so deeply ingrained in our psyche that we don’t always know what they are or that they're there at all. 

If these beliefs are positive, they affirm our sexuality and facilitate our ability to enjoy natural sexual feelings. But if they’re negative, they can undermine our ability to fully enjoy sex. Examples of negative beliefs are: sex is morally wrong; the functions of the body are dirty; the naked body is sinful; and erotic expression should be suppressed.

Identifying Your Core Beliefs
Core beliefs are often imprinted at a very young age. They may result from our individual observations, or they may be based on the messages that we absorb and internalize from the thoughts, attitudes, values and feelings conveyed to us by the world around us.

The following exercise can help you begin to identify these beliefs. This exercise may take some time, and require several repeat reviews on your part to get the most out of it. Give yourself this time. The more honest you can be, the more you'll get out of it.

Exercise: Where Do My Core Sexual Beliefs Come From? 

Photo: Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia  

Answer the following questions: 

~What are your earliest memories of erotic feelings? 

~What are earliest your memories of being told or communicated to nonverbally about sex by an outside party?

   Did this party communicate:

   Positive feelings

   Negative feelings

   Mixed feelings

Other (describe)

Do I agree with this message? It it a core belief?

Yes

No

Do I want to examine this core belief?

Do I want to change this core belief?

 

~What were your other early sources of beliefs about sex?

Did these sources communicate:

Positive feelings

Negative feelings

Mixed feelings

Other (describe)

Are these my core beliefs now?

Do I agree with these core beliefs?

Yes

No

Do I want to examine these core beliefs?

Do I want to change these core beliefs?

 

~What was your sexual role model as a teenager? 

Did these role models communicate:

Positive feelings

Negative feelings

Mixed feelings

Other (describe)

Do I agree with the core belief this instilled?

Yes

No

Do I want to examine this core belief?

Do I want to change this core belief?

 

~Who did you talk to or share your feelings about sex with?

Where they a:

Positive influence?            How?

Negative influence?          How?

 

~Where you told that women and men are different sexually? 

If yes, what are the differences?

Did this belief communicate:

Positive feelings

Negative feelings

Mixed feelings

Other (describe)

Do I agree with this core belief?

Do I want to examine this core belief?

Do I want to change this core belief?

 

~I internalized this message:

Sex is:

             Romantic 

             Fun

             Shameful

             Scary

             Beautiful

             Disgusting

             Other         

Do I agree with this core belief?

Do I want to examine this core belief?

Do I want to change this core belief?

 

~Was I taught sex education in school?

If yes:

Did it give me the information I needed?

Yes

No

If not, what was missing?

 

~Sex between two members of the same sex is:

Natural

Unnatural

Beautiful

Ugly

Do I agree with this core belief?

Do I want to examine this core belief?

Do I want to change this core belief?

 

Talking about sex is natural among: 

Family members

Partners

Siblings

Friends

 

~Sex shouldn’t be discussed among:

Family members

Partners

Siblings

Friends 

Do I agree with this core belief?

Do I want to examine this core belief?

Do I want to change this core belief?

 

~Talking about sex is just wrong.

Do I agree with this core belief?

Do I want to examine this core belief?

Do I want to change this core belief?

 

~Anal sex is dirty because it means touching excrement, and excrement is disgusting.

Do I agree with this core belief?

Do I want to examine this core belief?

Do I want to change this core belief?

 

~Men who like rectal penetration and prostate stimulation are effeminate.

Do I agree with this core belief?

Do I want to examine this core belief?

Do I want to change this core belief?

 

~Women who like sex are sluts.

Do I agree with this core belief?

Do I want to examine this core belief?

Do I want to change this core belief?

 

~Women need sex more than men.

Do I agree with this core belief?

Do I want to examine this core belief?

Do I want to change this core belief?

 

~Men need sex more than women.

Do I agree with this core belief?

Do I want to examine this core belief?

Do I want to change this core belief?

 

~It’s emasculating for a man to give a woman oral sex.

Do I agree with this core belief?

Do I want to examine this core belief?

Do I want to change this core belief?

 

~Really sexy women swallow ejaculate.

Do I agree with this core belief?

Do I want to examine this core belief?

Do I want to change this core belief?

 

~Sex is only okay when it’s for procreation.

Do I agree with this core belief?

Do I want to examine this core belief?

Do I want to change this core belief?

 

~Women who dress sexily want to be raped.

Do I agree with this core belief?

Do I want to examine this core belief?

Do I want to change this core belief?

 

~Good children have no sexual feelings.

Do I agree with this core belief?

Do I want to examine this core belief?

Do I want to change this core belief?

 

~Exposing your feelings during sex is:

Distasteful

Exciting

Risky

Beautiful

Hot

Shameful

Embarrassing

Easy

Hard

Other

Do I agree with this core belief?

Do I want to examine this core belief?

Do I want to change this core belief?

p

Continue to add your beliefs:

~------------------

~------------------

Do I agree with this core belief?

Do I want to examine this core belief?

Do I want to change this core belief? 

 

confused boy holds headWhen You Can’t Identify Your Core Beliefs

Sometimes our beliefs are so hidden or confused that we can’t identify them clearly. It may take you some time and careful internal listening to get a handle on your actual standpoint. You might need to talk to a counselor or get another person’s perspective. 

Another option is to explore hypnosis. The relaxation techniques of hypnosis may help you to either sort out your confused beliefs, or bypass the undesirable effects your negative beliefs have on your sexuality through positive suggestion. 

Changing Negative Core Beliefs
Sometimes our negative core beliefs change organically through self-awareness and the desire to change. At other times we have to make an effort to change through restructuring our attitude. To do this we may have to experience some discomfort, and acknowledge our conflicts.

One important principle of change is the understanding that the intellectual understanding of a negative belief is not the same thing as true, integral change; it’s just a first step. I can perceive and understand intellectually that my sexual upbringing was repressive, but it’s not until I change in a deep and total way that I will be free of this repression. For many of us, this means we don’t have an instant catharsis, but have to work through the processes of growth and transformation.

A number of the exercises found on the pages of Informed About Sex provide a means of changing your core beliefs. Here are two good ones:

Two Exercises: 

The Affirming Parent

This fantasy exercise is about taking back the power to love, accept, and approve of yourself. 

Create a private, safe environment. Turn off the phone. Turn down the lights. 

Lie in a relaxed position on a bed, mat, or rug. Make sure you’re not cold or uncomfortable in any way. 

Starting with your feet and sequentially working up to the top of your head, tune into your body, sensing and tuning into each area of your body from the inside out; toes, balls of feet, tops of ankles, arches, heels, Achilles tendons, ankles, calves, shins - and so on.  

As you focus on each area, feel a flow of loving warmth from an imaginary parent embracing, accepting, respecting and cherishing each part of your body. Hear and feel them tell you to be free to enjoy your body, your pleasurable sensations, your erotic feelings and fantasies, your orgasm. 

The Affirming Touch

Repeat the “Affirming Parent” touching your body tenderly, lovingly. Take your time.  

These exercises reveal something marvelous: you can summon the love and approval from within yourself that you were taught to depend on others to gift you with!

The Frustration of Mixed Messages
It can be very difficult to identify or change your core beliefs when you’ve internalized mixed messages. Nothing is more confusing than being told one thing, but getting an entirely different emotional message on the subject through the nonverbal communication conveyed by body language, tone of voice, and actual behaviors. This can create conflicting core beliefs that are hard to sort out.  

Nora: “My mother was raised by terribly repressive religious fundamentalists, real hellfire Methodists who forbid almost every possible form of natural enjoyment. They were incredibly harsh. Sex and sin were synonymous to them.  

   When mother left home and found her way into a more liberal environment, she adopted a more open, modern outlook. But inside, she remained terribly unhappy and conflicted, and it was kind of like being pulled back and forth by opposing hurricane forces to be around her. We never knew what was up or down. One day she encouraged sexual permissiveness, the next day she lashed out at us for the tiniest iota of behavior that she perceived as sexual.

Whew. It took me a long, long time to get a handle on all this confusing stuff and work out my own values.”

How Others React to Your Changes
When you change your core values, people who are used to your old attitudes may be pleased, surprised, or suppressive towards your growth. If they accept our changed being, the relationship can continue and may even blossom. But if we can no longer communicate with them, and particularly if they try to prevent us from changing, we may have to accept altering or ending our relationship with them. This can be sad, but leaving people behind is a pretty common result of positive change, growth, and maturing.  Holding on to relationships that repress your growth is toxic; moving past them is a kind of 'graduation ceremony' into maturity.

Den: “I was brought up to feel that there was something wrong with my sexual orientation, and I always felt bad about sex. When I began to become positive about my sexuality, my partner started picking fights with me, waxing quite snippy and critical. I finally realized that he and I had a negative bond: we both had similar conflicts about being gay, and punished ourselves with a tacit pact not to enjoy our sex life too much. 

I wanted us to grow out of this place together really badly. It was incredibly painful to accept that he wasn’t ready to change, and I was going to have to let our relationship go so that I could be happy.”

Photographs: www.Kozzi.com

Copyright© 2015. All Rights Reserved.
 
Copyright© 2015. All Rights Reserved.
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