Follow these 14 expert tips to feel good about your body in bed and start having better sex.
You know how it goes. You're just starting to get your sexy groove on and suddenly you have an attack of the gremlins, whispering their poisonous prattle in your ear about this being too lumpy and that being too small. And you find your libido falling faster than your first souffle.
In her book The Female Brain, Dr. Louann Brizendine points out that turning off your faithful guardian, the amygdala, is the only way to get to the delicious explosion of brain chemicals that we call orgasm. The trouble is that the amygdala is on a hair trigger. The moment you feel insecure, this little almond-shaped organ deep in your brain flips on. When your amygdala is on, orgasm is not happening. Period.
It's almost impossible to grow up in our image-obsessed, media-driven culture with any kind of sanity about body image. The current epidemic of negative self talk drives all manner of obsessive and unconscious behavior. What we need is to shift the "stinking thinking" at the root of our suffering. Learn to notice and question thoughts that drag you into the battlefield of "not good enough" and "if only." Rather than getting hooked, simply stop engaging.
Why? Because feeling good in bed isn't just about getting off—sexual satisfaction influences our personal and relationship health and happiness. Statistics show that people who orgasm regularly tend to have stronger immune systems, are less likely to be depressed and live longer. Couples who have not replaced the bedroom with the kitchen also tend to last longer and be happier. The bottom line, don't put off sex until you lose weight.
When it comes to creating a better body image in bed, the action starts at the top—your mind. This is a truly do-it-yourself project. No one can change your thoughts about your body but you. You must convince your Guardian, your amygdala, that you are ready to relax, let your guard down and climax.
To refocus your energy and feel good about yourself in bed, start with these tips:
- Re-train your brain. Look in the mirror and say, "I am a good person doing the best I can to accept my body as it is." Repeat 10 times or more as often as necessary.
- Pick the parts of your body you like, even if it is your eyebrows and your ankles and compliment yourself. Again, repeat regularly until you begin to notice that your physical response to the parts of your body you like feel "second nature" to you. Then move to other parts of your body that "feel" more challenging. The goal is to love your whole body.
- Honor your body as a temple. Sacred sexuality teachings from Tantra remind us that the body possesses an innate wisdom far vaster than that of the intellect. Author Margot Anand writes, "The body is the vehicle for transforming consciousness, the crucible in which the base metal of physical energy can be refined into the pure gold of ecstasy." As we know truth in the body, we know truth in the universe.
- Remember and remind yourself as needed that EVERYONE has issues. Remember that less than one percent of the general population can achieve the body image projected by TV and movie actors and actresses, and 61 percent of women think about their body when they are having sex. Even those with "perfect bodies" still worry about body image. There is no escape from this ruthless foe. When we realize that everyone else makes themselves as crazy as we do, it's easier to let go of the craziness and be in the moment.
- Know that no one sees your "flaws" as you do. It's easy to think that everyone sees our area of concern—be it butt, thighs or arms—the same as we do. Chances are they don't; they may actually love those parts. We can't see it because we're wrapped up in our own story. As Eleanor Roosevelt said: "You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do." Instead, listen to what your partner says. Does he compliment your breasts even though you think they're saggy? Does she lovingly touch the stomach that you think is ridiculously huge? See yourself through your partner's loving eyes.
- Check in. When you are out and about, look at all of the couples over 50. Give yourself a reality check on how our bodies age and notice couples who are still physically connected. Remind yourself that age does not guarantee a loss of libido, sexual chemistry or attraction.
- Create beauty. Invest in a negligee or other clothing that fits and makes you feel beautiful. Connect your body with textures, styles and shapes that accentuate the parts of your body you're most comfortable with and bring these clothes into regular circulation in your wardrobe.
When you're ready, take this new you into the bedroom:
- Create a sensual atmosphere. When you are in bed, keep the lights off if that helps. Remember, your success comes from training your mind to accept yourself outside the bedroom. If that doesn't work, Dr. Hutcherson offers up her best tip. "It works, I did it myself. Walk around the house when your family's not home — lock the doors, pull the blinds and just walk around naked," she says. "It's just so liberating."
- Come to your senses. The fastest way to stop an attack of the gremlins is to notice what you're thinking and then consciously shift your focus to your senses. Focus on the sensations you can identify with your senses while in bed with your partner. Their smell. How they taste. Looking into their eyes. The sounds of sex. The feel of your partner's skin against yours. Focusing on your senses take you out of your head.
- Breathe. We typically use a fraction of our lung capacity. Inhale deeply into the belly, heart and upper chest. Breathing dramatically expands your orgasmic potential and brings you into the present moment which is always where miracles, magic and ecstasy dwell (if you're into that...).
- Open Your Eyes. Although closing your eyes may take you deeper into sensation, it can also cause you to leave your body, lapse into fantasy or get lost in the insanity of the mind again. Open the windows to your heart and soul, your eyes.
- Follow the Pleasure. It's elusive and always changing. What felt amazing two minutes ago might feel irritating now. Rather than letting your mind wander away, go on a treasure hunt instead to find the pleasure and open more fully into it.
- Focus on what you love. As much as there may be parts you hate, there are also parts you love. Do you love your eyes, cheekbones, hands, arms, back or something else? Whatever part of your body you like, think about it rather than those you don't. Eventually your thoughts of those places you feel are less than desirable will melt away. What you focus on expands, so focus on what you love.
- Shift your focus from yourself to your lover. The surest way to take your mind off yourself is to focus on someone else. Pay attention to what you love about your partner. Touch the places you love with affection. Kiss the body parts you know they don't like. Make your partner feel great and your own self-consciousness will disappear.
Catherine Behan is a Dating, Sex and Intimacy Coach practicing in San Diego, CA. For a free 20 minute chat to explore your Sexual Confidence or lack thereof, click here.