Sexual Self-Esteem? What Is That?

Award-winning sexologist Chantelle Otten is passionate about normalising sexuality and offers 5 exclusive tips on how to feel more secure in your sexual self.

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Award-winning sexologist Chantelle Otten is passionate about normalising sexuality and offers 5 exclusive tips on how to feel more secure in your sexual self.

Sexual self-esteem and sexual satisfaction are also closely related. Feeling good in your sexual self, you’re more likely to engage in sexual practices in a more open and accepting way. Our sexuality is inherent in how we accept and define ourselves, how we distinguish others, and how we view the world.

Sexuality is complex; it’s not always easy. It is multidimensional and multifactorial, involving physiological, interpersonal, cultural, emotional and psychological contributors. On top of that, we are guided by sex-ed that failed to teach us about pleasure.

We are moving forward with a sex-positive mindset, but we still have challenges. Cultural influences still restrict our thoughts around sexuality, making sure that we still need to work on developing positive sexual confidence. Many people tie their sexual self-esteem to unrealistic ideals around beauty and attractiveness, leading to self-criticism if they don’t fit in that box. My job is to help change this narrative.

I’m excited to give you 5 few tips on how to feel more secure in your sexual self.

1. Be curious about your sexual experiences.

The first part of that is actually redefining how you look at sex. Is sex about penetration and orgasm? Or can sex be everything under the sexual umbrella? Most of us are taught that sex is goal oriented, and that can make us feel a lot of pressure to perform!

I suggest taking some time to reflect on what sex actually feels and means to you, and whether you are accepting of the concept of sexuality in general.

If there are some negative narratives around sexuality, can we re-define them? It’s a good idea to write down your narratives around sex, and what it should be. If you see a pattern that sex is goal oriented and performative, take the pressure off and start focussing on pleasure. Make a shift away from performative sexual experiences towards pleasurable sexual experiences from a non judgemental perspective.

2. Reflect on the role of culture.

Many of us can be extremely hard on the way that our body looks and feels, holding us back in the bedroom. I like to encourage people to look at their bodies like pieces of art and to connect with their bodies in a more artistic way.

How? I suggest everyone start taking nude photos of themselves and pose in ways that make them feel good. They can even dance in front of the mirror naked or in their underwear. This movement is a really beautiful way to tap into their eroticism in a safe manner and celebrate the way that their body can move and carry themselves and make them feel. All bodies are beautiful, and all bodies deserve pleasure.

3. Get in touch with your body.

Many of us are taught that our bodies are not OK as they are. Or we receive conflicting messages about being sexy but not too sexy. We’re told to be forthcoming with our wants and desires, but not too forthcoming, as it might threaten our sexual partners. We also hear that we should aim for pleasure, but, in doing so, sacrifice our wants and needs.

How do you want to move forward? It’s time to recognise that pleasure is for us, we are all beautiful and complex creatures, and we have a right to state our wants and desires. Reflecting on these narratives and determining what you want will help with your journey forward.

4. Learn how to communicate openly about sexuality, and insecurities beforehand with sexual partners.

Once you have a good idea of how sex makes you feel and what you want from your sexual self, then you may feel more comfortable discussing your journey with your sexual partners. I’m a big believer in vulnerability helping us move forward and getting others to help us with our insecurities. So saying something to your sexual partner like, “I’m a little bit shy getting nude in the bedroom,” will help you get over that hurdle of trying to keep it inside you. Being vulnerable helps us diminish shame; in fact, it’s the antidote to shame. So conversations around it change the narrative. If you can learn to state your vulnerabilities, boundaries, wants and needs, then you have the capacity to feel freer in the bedroom.

5. Learn to cultivate sexual self habits and routines that will allow you to drop into your erotic self.

Once you have identified your barriers to your sexual self, consider taking the next step by creating rituals that will help you connect with the erotic side of you. This may mean simple practices, such as being nude when you sleep or being mindful when taking a shower. It might also mean rubbing lotion on your thighs and bum and paying close attention to the feeling of your skin under your hands. It might even mean taking time to self-pleasure once a week. These little rituals will help with your sexual self-confidence. Take it slow and don’t put too much pressure on yourself, it takes time to build sexual self-esteem.

With all of these tips in mind, remember that sex positivity and sexual self-esteem is a journey, don’t push yourself to reach an end goal. Go gently and be kind and compassionate to yourself. Communicate the journey you’re going on with trusted people, allowing yourself to stay open and curious during this time. I’m not saying it’s an easy road, but as long as you’re compassionate and don’t pressure yourself, then I see a very sex-positive future coming up.

Chantelle Otten is a Melbourne-based Psycho-Sexologist who is passionate about empowering people to feel great about their sexual health, self-esteem, communication and education.

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