We often think of consent as a agreement between multiple people, but most people don’t really know what they want. Self-consent is a way to approach pleasure that invites us into our own needs so that we can articulate this to others. Self-pleasure practice is a great way to explore self-consent: what do I really want for me?
Most of my clients (of all genders) have a hard time knowing what they need and desire. We are told not to be ‘too needy’ or ‘too selfish,’ and then as adults we don’t actually know what our needs are. One of the practices I do in my group classes is to get people to write down 10 things they want. Anything goes here: I want a manicure, I want to save the Irrawaddy river dolphins, I want to have a baby, I want to take a nap. More often than not, people simply cannot make a list of even ten things they truly want.
Your Beautiful Human Needs
After decades of being told not to be too needy, most of us dismiss our beautiful human needs. This can result in putting others’ needs before our own, and in people-pleasing behaviors that ignore our own priorities in order to be of service to others’ needs. This might look like saying yes when we don’t want to (because it’s easier) or doing something you don’t like (because we’re afraid of what will happen if we say no). We can break free from these self-destructive behaviors, and it starts with practicing self-consent.
We often think of consent in terms of sexual agreement. It’s deeply important, and ensures that all parties involved are in agreement about the activities that will take place. Consent is vital to a healthy relationship, and there is a lot of nuance to the consent conversations that might surprise you. To learn more, read about the 3 Things this Sex Coach wants you to know about Consent.
But if we’re not clear what our needs and desires are, how can we really consent?
What is Self-Consent?
Self-consent is one of the ways we start to tune into our own needs, and our solo play time is an ideal time to practice self-consent. When you decide to self-pleasure, really tune in. Ask yourself questions like, what might make it 10% more enjoyable? Turning on/off some lights, putting on socks, listening to some specific music. Ask yourself: what do I want to feel during this session? What toys or touch might I enjoy most?
And then you continue to check in with yourself for the duration, especially before any penetration. Whether you’re penetrating your vagina or your bum, you can start really gently and genuinely ask yourself, ‘Am I ready for this?’ I invite you to honor exactly what comes up, without falling into judgment or trying to change it. The only intention is pure exploration, not some end goal or finish line. There might be part of you that is feeling playful, and part of you that’s feeling scared. Honor both of these parts, and feel into each, giving both parts space to be heard and felt in your body. Learn to listen to your own NO and your own deeply joyful YES.
Learning how to incorporate this might mean changing up your patterns or habits, but it will give you valuable insight into your needs, desires, and how you might be evermore gentle with yourself.
For further learning, read about the nuance of consent here: 3 Things this Sex Coach wants you to know about Consent and find my article about how the tools of a yoga practice guide your sex life, too.