We just have to utter the word ‘sex’ and we can feel the added charge in our bodies. Our culture has so many rules and taboos around sexuality that it can be confusing to discern our own feelings on the subject.
“What is mine? What is not?” These are questions that always spring to mind as I navigate my way through client sessions. Sex always have been a topic which gives clients glisters!
Should I go along with a client’s request because I want to help them explore their own version of eroticism? How do I listen to my own boundaries and even more, how do I say no without sounding judgmental about the client’s sometimes tenderly shared desires?
This recently came up for me, and I realized that although I have worked hard to know and say what I want, I still find it hard to actually do.
I want to be supportive. I want to be caring and compassionate. And I definitely want my clients (and anyone I am involved with actually) to feel they can share their own desires without being judged.
Of course, these dynamics occur in any relationship, but even more so when we are receiving money in exchange for a service. I mean the client always comes first, right?
Well, maybe wrong.
I caught myself feeling more and more uncomfortable as I approached a session with this one client. We had worked together for quite a while and made some connection so that I felt we had developed some trust. I still wavered.
Was I the one with issues here or were they? I wasn’t sure what to say or do about their request for our upcoming session. Do I put his needs first or mine?
I spent a day flip-flopping back and forth until my poor partner finally stepped in to offer some wisdom.
“It’s a two-way street,” he said, “you have to be comfortable and they have to be comfortable, “it can’t just be their way or the highway. It’s a relationship, albeit a therapeutic one.”
He also added that perhaps my client would gain benefit from going through this negotiation process with me. After all, compromise and negotiation are just as important as knowing what you want and how to ask for it.
We can’t always have things our way. Just because I didn’t want to do a particular thing, doesn’t necessarily mean I’m being judgmental of their preferences. I have to also respect my own.
This advice hit me like a ton of bricks, I’m not going to lie. I still struggle with not only knowing and recognizing my own boundaries but acting on them and speaking up.
The integration of empathy and acceptance with personal boundaries and preferences is, I realize, an ongoing challenge.
As I spend more time with these seemingly paradoxical parts of myself, I realize what I am truly gaining is a non-judgemental attitude towards myself!
I am trusting that being able to accept my own limits will actually help me be MORE accepting of others and not less. This is just another example of the ongoing process of learning to love me.
I believe having a witness is sometimes the most powerful way to transform. Reach out and book a free consult with me and let’s talk about what you are wanting to discover in yourself and your relationships.
With loving witness,
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