The act of masturbation is rarely understood as being about self-love – a sexual attraction to self. Rather, this solo act is typically regarded in the narrowest sense: as about alleviating tension (sexual or otherwise), or as providing oneself with a momentary sensory pleasure that is simple, uncomplicated and free.
What does Self-love mean?
Self-love is an essential component of a healthy self-esteem. The term refers literally to loving and knowing oneself. Engaging in self-love is to know, love, appreciate, and value oneself. One who practices self-love likely has high self-esteem and a clear vision of his or herself.
Self-esteem is about building self-confidence, liking oneself, having a healthy level of achievement in one’s life and gaining the respect of others. A lot of people have some kind of awareness, even if it’s subconscious, that when they feel sexually powerful that confidence shows up in many ways. Confidence is universally considered sexy. People who can consciously nourish their sexual energy can improve their own confidence and use that energy as fuel to their life the way they really want to live it.
What prevents us from experiencing the wonderful realms of pleasure to the fullest?
Many have spent most of their life in bodily shame and sexual disconnection, leading to low self-esteem. To be honest, most people hate some aspect of their body. Many only ever have sex that is performative and disconnected. Rarely do people truly self-pleasure, and if they do, it is in a hurried manner and filled with shame afterward. That is immensely disconnected from their body as a source of pleasure and power.
There are common “pleasure blocks” and while the symptoms always present uniquely to each person, they usually distil down to one of three key blocks or a combination of them.
Limited Pleasure Presence
Otherwise known as “can’t-get-out-of-my-head.” This pleasure block involves being stuck in your head during pleasure. There is often an issue with feeling undeserving of pleasure, which limits you from being able to fully drop into your body and experience all the beauty within.
I Come Last
You put everyone and everything ahead of taking care of yourself. You feel like you don’t have enough time for self-care and self-love, and you subconsciously don’t feel that your pleasure deserves to be prioritised. You literally do “come last,” if at all. When you feel like a giver all day, it can be hard to make the switch into the role of experiencer.
Body Image Challenges
This is a tough one for everyone, and particularly for women and anyone who lives in a body that is overly scrutinised by modern society. This issue manifests with any type of emotional or mental discomfort around your body. Symptoms are negative self-talk, pushing your body too hard, and not taking up the sensual space you deserve.
So what’s the cure
Spend some time reflecting on the way you view yourself, your life, your body, and your relationship to pleasure. I highly encourage journaling, and you may want to consider Self-Talk, which is the internal conversations you have with yourself. These dialogues can affect your thoughts and behaviours. When you give yourself positive messages such as: “Everything will work out. I know I can do the job”, you give yourself permission to succeed, and chances are you will.
It may seem daunting but sharing your journey can really help. It’s comforting to know you’re not alone. It’s important you do this in a way that feels safe, non-judgmental, and sex-positive. Ideally, you do this with folks who know how to hold space without projecting.
While this step happens gradually along the way, it is also a key step on its own. Once you’ve reflected and shared, you may have a clearer sense of your pleasure blocks and unhealed wounds. From this space, consider what specific medicine you may need.
For example, if you are having issues loving and celebrating your body, take sensual self-portraits and share them with close friends. If you’re struggling to put yourself first, schedule time every day that is dedicated to your pleasure, even if it’s just five minutes.
Make a personal commitment to loving and celebrating yourself as an erotic creature. This is big, important work. It’s not as if we can snap our fingers and suddenly love ourselves and feel deserving of pleasure. Figure out what works for you and commit to it. Schedule it. Make it as important as everything else in your calendar.
When it comes to trying out masturbation, it’s all about exploration. Take your time to know and understand your own sexual story as you practice self-acceptance – without any judgment whatsoever.
There aren’t any specific rules for how to masturbate because there’s no set formula for sexual pleasure for all individuals. What works for you might not work for someone else, and that’s perfectly normal. It’s also important to remember that masturbation is less about achieving a certain destination (or a single orgasm) and more about exploring the different sensations in your body.
Here are some general tips for getting started:
Create an environment that’s safe, comfortable, and relaxing
Set yourself up for relaxation and be sure to give yourself enough time to explore. Lighting a candle might be a great place to start. But make sure you’re engaging as many of your senses as possible and really allowing yourself to focus on you. What sort of environment will you enjoy most?
The goal is to learn more about yourself and what you enjoy as you explore. And, if that makes you a little nervous, focus on this simple strategy instead: find your happy place.
Begin exploring your body and your preferences
Remember to breathe and focus on the overall sensations. Whether or not you start with a fantasy or some kind of sexual imagery is completely up to you. What’s important is finding things that you enjoy without any sort of judgment or self-censorship involved. Eliminate pressure or expectations for what you “should” be doing and focus on learning about what you enjoy with regards to sex and pleasure.
It can be tempting to rush to your destination — whether that’s through genital stimulation, penetration, or another method of orgasm entirely — but masturbation is about enjoying the journey and understanding more about yourself.
This means that a little self-exploration can definitely go far. For you, this might involve exploring your erogenous zones or discovering different ways to bring yourself pleasure, such as learning to find and stimulate your G/P spot. It could also mean experimenting with your fingers or a sex toy.
Focus on your individual preferences, whether that’s finding out what they are or simply enjoying the things you already know you like.
Don’t stress about it
If it takes a little bit of time to get into it, that’s totally fine too. It is about learning what makes you happy and discovering how to love yourself.
A little self-love has some totally worthwhile benefits too. Engaging in masturbation can help increase your overall body awareness, boost your connection with yourself, and help you better understand your own sexual needs, which helps improve your overall sex life, boosting your self-esteem.
Regardless of why you’re interested in masturbation, the beauty of the practice is that it places emphasis on the individual. Instead of following a set of rules or established guidelines, it’s about finding what you like – which is always good.
Contributors: This article was researched and written by Umlindi, edited by Mistress Michelle and published by Umlindi.
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