In this week’s podcast, I tackle the subject of your sexuality. What does it look like to you? What does it feel like? Our first impulse is to believe it is wrong or distasteful. I am going to explain why I believe it is a beautiful part of who we are as children of God. It is part of our identity given to us by a loving Heavenly Father- to use wisely. It can be pure and beautiful and full of goodness. It is a gift. I will discuss figuring out your desires in all aspects of your life and learning to speak your truth.
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What does it mean to be sexual? I think a lot of women think about sexuality in a way that seems contrary to what believe in the church and our values. To be sexual means J-Lo and Shakira grinding on a pole at the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Being sexual means dressing immodestly. Being sexual means 50-shades of gray in the bedroom. But sexuality doesn’t have to mean any of that. A lot of the women I work with are so far removed from their sexuality, that they don’t even know what it means to be sexual. They don’t understand what sexuality, within their values even looks like. So that is what we are going to be talking about today. What is sexuality? What does it look like within my values? And how can I embrace it?
Sexuality is part of being human and Godlike
Many women have rejected all things sexual in the name of worthiness and goodness and as a means to become closer to God. But what they don’t realize is that by rejecting a fundamental part of who they were created to be, they are actually separating themselves from their true self and their Heavenly Parents and what they think they want.
Somewhere along the way, as women, we were socialized to believe that men are inherently sexual and it was our job to help them manage their sexuality. That it was our duty and our role as their wife to succumb to their sexuality, because if it was left unchecked it would surely lead them down a destructive path to hell. We were also socialized to believe that our sexuality was secondary to theirs and something to be lost or something to be given to them. In turn, IF we did feel sexual, that needed to be suppressed in order to be seen and be good and virtuous.
We think that our sexuality is separate from our spirituality. That we can’t be sexual and spiritual. But, the opposite is actually true.
One of the fundamental principals of the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is that we came to earth to receive a body of flesh and blood. That body, and all that it entails, was essential for our eternal progression. Having a physical body is a godlike attribute. We are more like God with a body than without. We believe that in order to progress spiritually, we need to unify the body and the spirit and understand how each contributes to our eternal identity.
Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, and LDS Sex Therapist says “We believe the body is necessary for our spiritual progression and development. So sexuality, by extension, is not an impediment to spirituality but a fundamental part of it.”
In the talk The Body as a Blessing by John S. Tanner in the July 1993 Ensign it says: “The Doctrine and Covenants declares that “spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy. And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.” (D&C 93.33-34)
He goes on to say, “The physical body is a divine gift, a complement crucial to the spirit if we are to receive a fulness of heavenly joy and glory. Our spirits need bodies that can suffer pain AND savor pleasures. But through such physical experiences, our spirits find peace and draw close to Heavenly Father and to each other.”
One of my clients recently had the realization that by rejecting her sexuality, she was essentially telling her Heavenly Father that she was ungrateful and rejecting the gift she was given.
Nurturing our physical body and physical relationship is just as important and nurturing our spiritual body and our spiritual relationship. President Nelson, in his April 2006 talk in General Conference called Nurturing Marriage said couples “need to nurture their spiritual as well as physical intimacy.”
What does sexuality mean?
What does sexuality mean? Sexuality is defined as your sexual orientation, your sexual activity, and your capacity for sexual feelings.
I think you probably know what your sexual orientation is. You maybe understand your sexual activity, many times in relation to your husband, but do you understand your capacity for sexual feelings?
Jennifer Finlayson-Fife often talks about that women actually have a greater capacity for sexuality than men do. I agree with her. As women, in general, we seem to have a greater capacity for emotion, which opens us up to feeling a lot more love, passion, and pleasure. We also have the physical capacity for more because we are able to experience multiple kinds of orgasms and have multiple orgasms.
But we often look at our sexuality in relationship to men or our husbands? Why? Because that is the social narrative that we have been given. They are the thoughts we continue to think over and over. But what if that is completely untrue.
Managing sexuality within your values
Your sexuality is yours, and yours alone. It is your job to learn about it and manage it in a way that is in alignment with your values.
When I say that, I get pushback from many women saying “Well I just don’t value sex, so I don’t see the point.” But that is a very narrow view of sexuality and how it can be used.
Do you value your body?
Do you value being a woman?
Do you value the ability to experience joy and pleasure?
Do you value your marriage?
Do you value your relationship with your Heavenly parents?
Do you value the gifts They have given you?
Your sexuality includes all of these aspects. So how do you want to manage it within those?
Do you want to see what your body is capable of?
Do you want to enjoy it, in all its capacities?
Do you want to experience a full spectrum of emotions?
How can you use your sexuality to bless your marriage?
If your sexuality was given to you by your Heavenly Parents, how does rejecting it or suppressing it bring you closer to them?
How could embracing it bring you closer to them?
How is your sexuality a gift?
You may notice some resistance to some of these questions. It’s ok. It may take some time to fully open yourself up to these new ideas.
Embracing Your Sexuality
So how do you go about turning things around? How do you embrace your sexuality?
- The first step is learning to speak your truth. To say what you truly think and feel. Be honest with yourself and those around you. Uncover the underlying beliefs you have about yourself and your sexuality so that you can decide what you want to think and feel on purpose. This is much of the work that we do in coaching. Your thoughts create your reality. You can choose to believe anything you want about yourself. Did you know that? That you can just believe anything you want. You don’t have to have evidence of it. You can choose to believe ANYTHING. Right now you are choosing to believe that you aren’t sexual or you don’t know how to be. But you can choose to think that you this beautiful, amazing, sexual being, created by your Heavenly Parents and that you are working to figure it out. Really, anything is possible. And once you decide what you want to believe, speak that.
- The second step in embracing your sexuality is figuring out what you desire. I don’t mean in the bedroom. I mean figuring out what you desire for yourself in every area of your life.
When you were young what goals did you have? What did you want for your life?
Your desires probably looked something like
- Graduate high school
- Go to college
- Get married in the temple
- Have children
and then what? What did you desire beyond that? Most of us don’t even entertain the idea of having desires because we are so wrapped up in supporting our spouse in their career and raising our kids and helping them achieve their desires.
Again, we were socialized into thinking that what is noble and good is for us to sacrifice everything we have and are for the sake of our husband and children. That to be a good and virtuous woman we have sacrifice ourself, our wants, our needs, our desires for the sake of our family. That taking care of our own wants and desire is selfish.
And of course, most of us want to take care of our husbands and children. That gift of nurturing is inherent in most of us. But at what cost? At the cost of losing ourself? We need to nurture ourself first. We need to figure out what we truly desire.
What do you want for yourself? What are you passionate about? What brings you joy? What do you want to turn to when times are hard? What do you want in your life? And it’s ok to want the things you already have. That’s actually a really great place to start, by wanting what you already have. Having that gratitude and abundant mindset. But what else do you want? What goals do you have? Most of us have no idea.
So, I’ve created a worksheet for you to download to help you figure out what you desire for yourself right now.
I’ll tell you some of mine and maybe that will get you thinking.
I want to be a loving and supportive mom. To continue to teach my kids and show up for them in the ways that I want to.
I want to create an amazing business where I help women truly love themselves and create the relationships they want with their spouse and family.
With that business I want to make money. I want to make enough money to support my dreams.
I want my husband to be able to quit his job if he wants so that we can spend even more time together doing the things that we love.
I want to buy a cabin at the lake big enough for all of my kids and future grandkids to come to and have big family meals and play together and spend holidays and weekends together.
I want to buy my husband the fishing boat of his dreams.
I want to be able to travel and see the world. Recently on one of the Instagram accounts I follow it asked if I wanted to go to Santorini or Bali and my answer was both! I want to see it all.
I want to be able to spend as much time as I can with my children and future grandchildren and take them on trips to see the world.
I want to continue to serve in my church and my community.
Those are the desires of my heart. And notice how NONE of those were in the bedroom. I have those desires too. And that is the next step.
- To figure out what you desire sexually. What feels good to you? What arouses you? What turns you on? Where do you feel pleasure? How do you feel pleasure? What helps you anticipate a good sexual encounter? What do you want to create for yourself and your partner sexually? What do you fantasize about? How can you make those a reality? These are all really good questions to ask yourself. Sit down and think about it. Write about it. And if you can’t remember these questions, you can always find them on show’s webpage www.amandalouder.com/podcast/98.
- The fourth step in embracing your sexuality is to accept your body. Radical acceptance of your body. To love it and embrace it exactly as it is. To know it and honor it.
You are so much more than how you look. Your body is capable of amazing and wonderful things. Embrace that body for all that it does and is capable of. Maybe you’ve born children. Maybe you’ve run a 5k. Maybe you are really good at giving hugs. Maybe you provide a soft place for your children to fall. Chances are your body doesn’t look like it did when it was 18. And really, it’s not supposed to! It’s supposed to change over time. It’s part of the human experience.
When you have a negative body image, this greatly affects your sexual satisfaction. You tend to get all in your head during sex about how your body looks and how you think he thinks your body looks. This kills desire. I have a whole episode about it in Episode 74 – How Body Image Affects Sex.
Practice a kind curiosity about your body. Practice kind loving thoughts and gratitude for it. When you can learn to have radical acceptance and LOVE for your body, that is when changes actually happen.
Now, this is where it’s going to get hard for most of you. You also need to have this kindness, love, and radical acceptance of your vulva. And no, I’m not kidding.
Again, we were socialized into thinking that somehow our vulva, a part of our body, is gross, dirty, and disgusting. This is not true. These are just thoughts. It’s time to release the negative story and the shame around the part that makes us female. It is how we were created by our loving Heavenly Parents. I honestly believe that our Heavenly Parents don’t want us talking negatively or shamefully about any part of our body. It’s time to reframe the way we think about it. Honor it. Get to know it. Take care of it. Show it loving kindness.
So, that is how you learn to embrace your sexuality.
- Speak Your Truth
- Figure out what you desire
- Figure out what you desire sexually
- Radical acceptance of your body
I promise you, that as you do this, you will discover a whole new you. You will feel powerful, desirable, sexy, confident, loved, and truly fulfilled.
If you are having trouble with any of this, please reach out to me. I would love to help you work through all of it so that you can truly embrace who you were created to be.