How do you feel about your body? Do you love it? Do you embrace it? When we don’t embrace our body it turns our desire for sex off. So how is your body image affecting your sex life?
One of my favorite presentations last week at my Life Coach School Mastermind was about really getting into our body and feeling our feelings. The speaker talked about being excited, but her body language didn’t show it. She kept insisting that she was excited, but she wasn’t actually feeling excited in her body. She was so disconnected from her emotions that she didn’t even know what excitement felt like. So she started engaging in daily Embodiment practices to help her get back into her body and understand what emotions actually feel like. The results were amazing!
Now, I want you to picture this. What does a toddler look like when they are excited? Because you know with little kids, they fully embrace all of their emotions, and it’s clear just by their body language how they are feeling. So think about it. What does excitement looks like? Are you stomping your feet? Are you waving your arms? Are you pounding your fists on something? Are you screaming almost to the point of crying? Are you jumping up and down? The speaker pointed out how thinking about true excitement reminded her of those videos of the teenage girls waiting for the Beetles to show up. You know the ones I am talking about? The girls are screaming, jumping up and down and practically crying because they are so excited! Yeah…that’s what excitement is! Doesn’t this sound so awesome? I want to feel emotions like that too!
This practice made me think about my clients. How out of touch we are with our bodies as well as our emotions. So that’s what we are going to talk about this week — our bodies and our body image.
One of the fundamental beliefs as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is that we were created in the image of our Heavenly Parents. We believe that our bodies are a gift and one of the main reasons we chose to come to earth in the pre-mortal life.
Now, I want you to think about this. If you were created in the image of your Heavenly Parents, and your body is a gift, why do you believe that there is something wrong with your body?
Now, I know all of you don’t believe that there is something wrong, but the majority of women I talk to have body image issues. We are continually comparing ourselves to movie stars, musicians, airbrushed models on the covers of magazines, the freaks of nature that the Victoria Secret models are as they walk down the runway, and even the lady at the grocery store or the woman down the street.
We are bombarded with messages that we are not enough and that our body doesn’t measure up. If we genuinely believed that we were created in the image of our Heavenly Parents and that we are literal daughters of God, why do we chose to believe the thoughts our brain offers us about our bodies that are contrary to all that we are taught and hold sacred? Why do we reject the gift that we have been given just because it doesn’t look the same as someone else’s? I want you to think about that.
There were some great articles in the church magazines in August about our bodies. I would encourage you to read them.
In an article in the August Ensign, it says “Shifting our body image is less about how often we exercise at the gym and more about how often we exercise faith and remember in whose image we were created.” Isn’t that beautiful?
Unfortunately, most of us were sent pretty mixed messages as a youth about our bodies, and these messages are changing, but still very much a part of today’s culture. Yes, our bodies are a gift, but “make sure you keep them covered, so boys don’t have bad thoughts.”
Oh man, that one gets me fired up and let me tell you why.
- It perpetuates the shame culture that girls need to be covered, or they should be shamed. I completely disagree. Our job is to build each other up and help people feel loved as Christ would love them. Not shame them if their shorts are too short. As we build each other up, girls will naturally learn to respect and love their bodies and most will dress their bodies appropriately because they respect themselves and they aren’t looking for love and attention in the wrong places. If you are uncomfortable with how someone chooses to dress, I would like to encourage you to examine your thoughts on why. It is not someone else job to act a certain way so that you feel more comfortable. That’s on you.
- This thought completely discounts the agency that we have all been given. It is not our responsibility to try and help the boys control their thoughts. Even if we wanted to, we can’t! No one can control what anyone else is thinking. And guess what? Boys still know that girls have boobs even if they are covered. In fact, they were wired (by Heavenly Father) to think about girls and their boobs. It’s biology. Instead, let’s empower our boys. Help them to understand that it is normal to think about girls in that way, but what do they want to do with it? Who do they want to be?
You were probably also taught or encouraged to repress all sexuality as a youth. That the feelings that you were having were not ok or from Satan. Women in the church, when hearing constant messages warning them about sex and their sexuality (whether it was intended to be or not), felt shame and tended to repress that part of themselves. Then when you were married, it was supposed to be ok and come alive magically, and you were supposed to know how to use your sexuality in a way that felt good to you and benefit your marriage. Yeah, it doesn’t usually work like that.
I’ve heard from so many women how once they were married, they had no idea how to integrate their sexuality into their daily life. That they felt they were somehow unworthy or un-virtuous because they were now having sex. That they couldn’t reconcile the messages that they were taught about being a virtuous young woman with the sexuality that was now supposedly ok in marriage, so many of them continued just to shut that part of themselves off.
Body Issues Today
Ok, so let’s get back to the present. Most likely, you received those mixed messages as a youth (and still are today) about your body. How does this contradiction show up in your life today? Do you still have body image issues? If you are like most women I know, you do. But how far does it go?
- Are you uncomfortable having sex with the lights on?
- Do you not want to get naked in front of your spouse?
- Are you preoccupied during sex with how your body looks to your spouse or feels to his touch?
- Do you not feel sexy because you don’t have big boobs or have some cellulite on your thighs?
- Do you wish for the body you used to have before babies?
- Have you embraced your changing body as you age?
If any of these thoughts sound familiar to you, this is a problem. These kinds of thoughts are blocking you from
- Being confident in yourself and your body right now.
- Being fully engaged and present with your spouse during sex
- And maybe even blocking you from having sex at all.
The negative thoughts you have about your body are blocking you from creating and cultivating that desire within you. And of course you aren’t going to feel in the mood. Who would?
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Most men don’t care what your body looks like when it’s time to have sex. Now, there is, of course, the occasional exception to this, but for the most part, your husband loves YOU. And he wants to be with YOU no matter what your body currently looks like.
Quite a few years ago, I was on a girls trip with 3 of my friends. We were up late chatting; you know how girls do, talking about our bodies and sex, etc. And one of my friends said something that I found so enlightening. She said, “when it comes to sex, he doesn’t care what you look like, you still have boobs and a crotch. That’s all he cares about.” Now, I’m sorry if that was a little crass, but honestly, that is how most men feel. They just want their wife. They just want a woman who they love. They don’t care if your boobs are small, or you have stretch marks or cellulite. They just want you!
I’m in a few facebook groups that facilitate open sexual conversations between men and women who are members of The Church. I can’t tell you how many men I have heard in there that say “I just want her to know for herself how sexy I think she is. I just want to be with the woman I love, no matter what she looks like.”
What would change?
What would change for you if you could think about yourself differently? Would you feel more confident? Would you feel more comfortable having sex and being intimate with your spouse? Would you not only engage when approached but actually initiate sex?
Can you imagine how different things would be if you could love your body as it is now? What would be different for you if you could?
When I work with clients, the first thing we work on is their relationship with their self. The thoughts and dialogue that go on inside their brain about them. We work on thoughts, emotions, confidence, and body image. After we have created a better relationship with ourself, then we can start to work on our relationship with our spouse and others.
As you embrace yourself, everything changes.
It is possible for you to feel amazing in your own body.
It is possible for you to love yourself as you are.
It is possible to have hot, passionate sex because you feel sexy.
So what are you waiting for?