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Change begins within you
  • Marie Murphy

Change begins within you

One of the biggest take-aways from my 20-plus years of experience as a sex(uality) educator and researcher is that people have a lot of strong ideas about sex and sexuality and associated things like relationships and love and family. Oh, and don’t forget about gender. That’s huge too, and pertains to everything.

And sometimes – not always, but plenty of times – these ideas are loaded with potent understandings about what’s good and bad, right and wrong, okay and not okay, normal and abnormal, acceptable and unacceptable.

Some of these ideas are pretty pervasive, and some of them are deeply taken for granted. In other words, we don’t always recognize that society’s “truths” about love and sexuality and relationships and family aren’t actually truths in any absolute sense, or rules set in stone… they’re just ideas that a bunch of humans made up, and have decided to keep buying into.

These ideas affect our lives in all kinds of ways, large and small.

Some of these strong ideas are reflected in law and policy. Marriage is an easy example: for a long time, the idea that “marriage,” by definition, included one legally female person and one legally male person translated into laws that prevented same-sex couples from getting married, and enjoying all of the rights and privileges associated with marriage. And that’s just one example.

Some of these ideas about what’s good and bad in the realm of sex(uality) and love and relationships and family are expressed in more subtle ways. Maybe our families of origin profess to love us unconditionally, but hint at disapproval of the gender of partner(s), or our lack of children, or our decision to divorce our spouse of many years and run off with someone twenty years our junior. Or senior.

Or perhaps we begin dating someone we really like… only to discover that the details of their sexual history are, by our standards, shocking and unsettling. We might really like this person, but… we just don’t how we could sustain a relationship with someone who had done that in the past. (What would your friends say if they knew, you wonder. What would your mother say? You twitch a little bit just thinking about it.)

Or maybe we’re pretty sure the reason we haven’t gotten promoted at work is because we’re a sexual minority. And when we tried to broach the subject with a trusted colleague, they bristled and told us we were just being too sensitive.

Or whatever. These are just a few examples. Broadly shared social understandings about relationships and family and love and sexuality can impact our lives in all kinds of ways.

As a coach, my job is to help you deal with these ideas about what’s good/bad, normal/abnormal, okay/not-okay in the realm of sex(ality) and related matters. You may not be able to change other people’s beliefs overnight. You may not be able to change society in all the ways you’d like to in a year or a decade or even a lifetime.

But you can change your own responses to other people’s ideas, and to social norms. You can also change the ways you think about yourself. You can cultivate your capacity to claim your right to be who you are, the way you are, and to live the way you live. You can increase your ability to meet the ignorance or judgements or shame others might try to throw at you with courage and compassion. You can increase your discretion about which battles are worth fighting and which are worth stepping aside from. You can learn how to stand up for yourself with confidence.

You can learn how to love yourself, and how to make your decisions from a place of self-love – rather than feeling beholden to other people’s ideas about who you’re supposed to be or how you’re supposed to do things.

This is radical work. We often think that our experiences of the world are dictated by our external circumstances. We often think that in order for us to be happy and have what we want, external conditions need to change. Sometimes we work furiously to change other people or fix the problems we perceive in the world… and often, we’re disappointed by the results. But when we turn our attention to what we can change within ourselves, a whole new swath of possibilities open up.

If you want to learn how to shift your orientation to yourself and others, I can help. Book a free consultation with me today and we’ll talk about the changes you want to make in your life.

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