Sexual scripts state that our beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes about sexuality are constructed from cultural, social, and personal experiences and interactions. When you assess your sexual scripts, you may recognize that some attitudes may work, while others don’t. If some of your scripts do not work for you, than you are able to work to change them. For example, if you grew up in a religious home you may have been taught that masturbation is not acceptable. If you notice that when you masturbate you feel guilty, than becoming aware of this script will help you better be able to create new meaning around this script. After you assess your scripts, you have to practice behaviors that will help shift your scripts. Here are some behaviors to try:

1. Start to explore your body: Touch yourself and notice what feels good (ie. where are you touching; how hard/soft are you touching).

Our society places a large value on our external appearance and neglects the importance of feelings, sensations, and overall self-awareness. Being comfortable with your body and desires creates a positive relationship between your sexual identity and your pleasure. Women often express a discomfort with their naked body and their sexual desires. Getting comfortable with touching yourself intimately and sexually is an important step to becoming aware of what feels good for you. Humans are sexual beings and each one of us is different and enjoys different things. It can also be helpful to explore your body with your partner, or explore your partner’s body. Positive feedback such as “I really liked when you…” can build confidence and a trusting relationship.

2. Notice and acknowledge your thoughts: When a thought comes into your head, do not fight it or try to make it go away. Instead, notice that they are there and acknowledge it (ie. What thoughts come into your head when you feel anxious)

We often try to make negative thoughts go away. However, dwelling on changing them usually makes the thoughts worse. Instead, try to sit with your thoughts and acknowledge that they are there. Negative thoughts are apart of life and it is important to become comfortable with them. Notice that the thoughts are there, recognize that you are uncomfortable, and then practice compassion and tell yourself that these thoughts are okay to have. For example, if you or your partner loses an erection during sex notice what thoughts and feelings you have in that moment. Becoming aware of these automatic thoughts help you become more mindful of what feelings occur after certain events. It may also helpful to share these thoughts and feelings with your partner to facilitate communication, trust, and connection.

3. Allow and accept thoughts: Instead of fighting anxious and uncomfortable thoughts, allow them to exist (ie. when you have anxious thoughts, actively allow and accept them to be there and know that it will eventually pass)

Although these thoughts, feelings, and experiences may be unpleasant it is important to practice acceptance. In life, there will be many unpleasant experiences that we might not be able to control. When we have an unpleasant thought or experience, our first reaction is often to “fight it” in order to make it go away or at least make it better. Unfortunately, this response usually does the opposite and makes the feelings stronger. Coming to a place where you are able to sit with your automatic reactions is another step to eventually shifting your initial response.

4. Reinterpret meaning to scripts: Think about alternate meanings that your scripts can have (ie. What does it mean if you lose an erection? I failed at performing versus so what it happens because it is completely normal).

Your responses to certain experiences reflect your sexual scripts. For example, if you lose an erection during sex and feel shame it may be because society teaches that people with penis’s are supposed to be dominant, strong, sexual beings. Losing an erection is often learned to hold a lot of meaning that places pressure on the person to always perform a certain way in the bedroom. To reinterpret this script, you must start to tell yourself “so what? What is the big deal if I lose my erection? I am enjoying myself, my partner is enjoying themselves, and we could still continue to be intimate in other ways if we desire to do so.” Diffusing the meaning to this event starts to shift your script to hold a different meaning.

5. Challenge your scripts: When you notice that you want to shift your script, practice the opposite (ie. If you always thought that masturbating was wrong, but want to start, then practice touching yourself and notice what feels good about it).

In order to change your sexual scripts, you must challenge them, which may feel uncomfortable at first. If you have a desire to become more connected to your body and pleasure, a good way to start is by masturbating. However, if you remember receiving negative messages about masturbating and thus do not masturbate, it might feel awkward at first. This is a perfect example of challenging your scripts! Having a negative script about masturbating indirectly affects your pleasure scripts. Creating a positive relationship with masturbation will slowly build a connection between your body and your self as it facilitates and supports pleasure.

There is no right or wrong sexual script. When you assess your scripts you will be able to understand which scripts work for you. Practicing these behaviors will help you shift your scripts because they will help you become more comfortable with new attitudes and beliefs.

to find a sex therapist near me call the Center for Growth at 215 922 5683 x 100