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5. Having a healthy body image - Sexponential
As I sat there, credit card in trembling hand, punching in the final security strip digits to secure the purchase and next day delivery of a GIANT new vibrator, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was really what people meant when they talked about “self love”. If this is you, I absolutely fucking applaud you. This is EXACTLY the kind of self love I’m talking about. I wholeheartedly advocate buying yourself a giant sex toy and literally having the best waff ever. Go on, knock yourself out. It’s great! For everyone else, my message here is that, IMO, loving yourself is an essential element in having a good sex drive. Why? Because relaxing into and enjoying sex means switching off from the outside world and surrendering into pleasure. And it’s hard to do that if you’re worried about your bum jiggling, cellulite wobbling or whether your belly looks big in that position. So, here’s how to self-love, according to me: What is self-love? When I say self-love, I’m talking about a rebellious, no-fucks-given kind of belief in YOU. It’s the kind that’s infectious, intoxicating, intense, unstoppable. It’s the kind where, if you fuck up, trip up, have a terrible day, you’re always there cheering yourself on at the end of the day. It’s not hating yourself for failing- it’s celebrating that you tried. It’s starting again tomorrow. It’s looking in the mirror and thinking- that’s me, I’m fuckin’ ace. It’s the kind that makes you formidable, determined, driven. It’s being a firecracker. A live wire. It’s truly believing that right now, you’re ENOUGH just as you are. OK so enough of the pep talk. What you really want to know is, how can you achieve this kind of self-love? Isn’t this impossible? Why is it so hard to love ourselves? Let’s firstly just look at why it’s so difficult to love ourselves. Our society is all about fitting in, not being unique. When we were cave women, being cast out of the pack could’ve meant death, so we’ve been evolutionary wired to want to fit in for safety, security, survival. Expressing our individuality, being brave, doing or wearing something different, being “weird”, can all mean ending up rejected by our peers. So it’s easier and safer to compromise ourselves and be accepted than stick out and follow our own truth. Our experience of self-love doesn’t match the world around us: We’re told by the world that we should love ourselves, have good self-esteem, be happy with what we’ve got. However, society also tells us that to be happy, healthy, powerful, rich, we should look a certain way. And when we don’t look like those supermodels, actresses, instagram stars, and wake up looking like shite, we berate ourselves and always try to live up to a fake ideal. The saddest thing is, even when we do look like that, we’re STILL doubting ourselves. If noone is “good enough”, maybe we all are? We have a negativity bias In life, many of us remember the negative things, rather than the positive. How many times have you thought about the criticism you’ve recieved, and not remembered the compliments? It’s called a negativity bias in psychology, and we all have it. Negative thoughts, comments and experiences stick to us like glue, and we overlook the positive to keep these stories as our main narrative. We practise cactus love This is the idea that we think if we punish ourselves enough, we’ll change. It’s prickly, but we believe it’s in our best interests. Because surely, if we tell ourselves enough that we’re too fat, stupid, ugly, boring…. we’ll be inspired to make change…..? “Tough love” we call it. But how healthy is it really? Believing that if we change, we’ll be enough Self-love is, for many, a future concept. “When I’m this, I’ll be that”. It’s always unreachable, conditional, and with a touch of cactus love thrown in for good measure! We also believe that, to self-love, we need to fight against something. We must battle in order to become. It’s a sense of control we take over our identities. We confuse self-love with being selfish, arrogant, egotistical Especially as women, (and being British!) we’re socialised to feel like it’s not cool to love yourself. If you do you’re somehow big headed or bolshy. We believe that if we love ourselves, we’ll elevate ourselves above others and somehow not care about them or make them feel bad. How to create abundant self-love Quick tip: before we begin, check out this article on “self-care isn’t a state of being- it’s a process” for a really important grounding in what self-love actually is. Now, how to self-love (as told by me:) 1. Recognise the negative thoughts So, this is the idea that we need to slow down our thoughts, catch them, and label them as really fucking unhelpful. Check out these two posts on: Horizontal hostility– do you know what horizontal hostility is? Find out why bitching about other women can lower your sex drive. Challenge negative thoughts and defeat your inner villain. 2. Fall in love with yourself Then, the plan is to replace those thoughts with positive, loving, supportive words. And fall in love with yourself. Yes, sounds stupid, but I don’t mean get all smooshy and do that thing where you stand in the corner facing the wall and move your hands around like you’re snogging someone. Not that. It means learning how to become your own best friend. Instead of kicking you when you’re down, it’s having an inner voice step into the storm with you. It bigs you up, validates you. It’s the friend that knows you best- knows you inside and out completely. And adores you, whatever. Give it a name, a face, a personality. God, have Joanna Lumley incarnate as your best mate if that works for you. But cultivate her, create her, and then feed her until she’s all-powerful. The ONLY voice in your head that deserves hearing is her. To get to this point, the BEST tricks I’ve tried are: Create a “little book of you”. Buy yourself a snazzy notebook, and title pages things like “compliments I’ve received”, “my role models”, “my achievements”, “things that help me relax”, “things that make me weird”- (this is my FAVE category BTW. Go on, explore what makes you weird. This is your bread and butter- that’s what makes you unique, cool, interesting, fun. Weird is amazing). Then write down as you go through life things under the categories. This serves as your roadmap back to you if you get lost, your anchor when times get tough. For me, it’s literally been a life saver. 24 tips for self-esteem: I always come back to this article and it’s like my 24 commandments. It’s great! Write a Journal– so if someone would’ve told me a year ago that writing a diary would sort out my mental health, I’d have laughed in their face. But turns out, my journal is the one thing that literally keeps me sane. Everyday I write in three things I’m grateful for. Some days they’re sweet- a friend for being kind, my morning cup of tea, other days it’s more bleak- that I have a bed to sleep in, I’m physically healthy. Whatever it is that you write, use it to begin your day in a way that helps you tune in to positive rather than negative thoughts. Look at your vagina. Sounds strange yes, but how many times have you actually looked? Then when you look, on a regular basis I’ve advocate, learn to love what you see. Read my post on Two reasons why looking at your vagina can boost your sex drive. Oh, and how looking at other vulva’s does too 😉 Fierce self-love– this to be honest is really the grandmummy of all self-love tips I’ve ever been given or done. Have a read about my experiences here. 3. Change your world The media send us some pretty shitty messages about how we should look, act, behave, express ourselves sometimes. So whilst we can campaign to change the world and have images that represent all of us, that’s going to take time. But, in the interim, let’s change your world. Think of trashy womens magazines, the diet industry, lots on instagram and within fashion, as a junk food diet for your mind. And changing your world means changing your mental diet from crappy messages to healthy, positive, inspiring messages. Learn how you can use Pinterest and social media to change your world here. Follow body positive bloggers, instagram stars making huge statements about what is sexy, surround yourself with others that are challenging the shallow mold of popular culture. Also, follow inspiring blogs, newsletters and websites. Learn from others about how they’ve overcome life’s challenges, and get tips on living a life that’s more Three of my favourites are: Tiny Buddha, Mind Body Green, Marc and Angel. Sign up to their updates for an inbox that feels encouraging, motivating and negativity-free! 4. Self-care I’m not going to say much on self-care here as there’s other spaces that really hit the nail on the head! First, have a read of this super blunt, super powerful article on The Pool about self-care, and what it is and isn’t. Then I’d suggest checking Pinterest for self-care ideas and themes, as well as the gorgeous blog Morning Coffee with Dee. Dee is a social worker who writes beautiflly about the power of caring for ourselves, and her blog is a feast for the eyes (and so zen). There’s also more on sexual self-care in the section on “Making time to feel sexy”. …………………………………………………………. So, are you ready to join me to become a warrior woman, in open rebellion against the beauty, diet and fashion industry? Let’s go our own way. Life’s too fucking short to be so concerned with what we look like. The more you love and find other women of all sizes and shapes beautiful, the more you’ll love yourself. Fact. There’s scientific proof that this is true (of just me. But that’s as good as anything). Love L xx PS: how do you self-care? Let me know in the comments. If loving yourself and your body are areas you struggle with, you might also be interested in the sections on making time to feel sexy. If you’re following the five elements of sexual wellness, you’re on to the next step: your physical wellbeing.