How to Gain Sexual Confidence
Yeah you. The shy one. I know why you are here. Maybe you ‘stumbled’ upon this blog ‘by accident’ while you were searching Tips for Public Speaking or “How to be a lioness in the boardroom”. Maybe you know me and are curious what I write about (hi mom!!). Maybe you are searching for something or are on the beginning of a journey.
Regardless, you are here because you need to be. Because you want something we all want:
More sexual confidence.
No need to be embarrassed.
Sex is one of the most “natural” things, a huge piece of who we are, and yet one of the topics we are taught the least about (well, we are taught a lot of shame around it, but more on that in a minute). How much of your sexual education included communication, body acceptance, confidence, or access to pleasure?
Sexual confidence is something we all want more of but aren’t sure where or how to ‘get it’. It’s something we assume everyone else has, but somehow we got missed. We assume everyone else is having great sex but feel ashamed because the sex we are having (or aren’t having) is perhaps, less than exciting.
We all know that person. The one who seems so confident, you’re sure they are a ‘star’ in the sack. We assume they are just born with it. That sexual confidence is reserved for ‘sexy’ people. That pleasure is reserved for ‘other people’.
Well, let me tell you something, sexual confidence doesn’t come from what you look like or what you are working with, it comes from your head.
And it is available to you now.
Not tomorrow. Not when you look a certain way. Or have lost the baby weight. Or have certain skills under your belt.
1. Get Clear on Your Shame Scripts
First, let’s get clear on who is driving the bus. Steering the ship. These are the stories that you tell yourself. The ones that have been ingrained in you. All the “shoulds”. What sex ‘should’ look like. What your body ‘should’ look like. What your desire ‘should’ look like. Get really clear on these. Write them down. These are likely the places you hold shame if you don’t feel you are living up to these expectations.
Shame researcher and author Brené Brown defines* shame as
“the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging” (I Thought it Was Just Me, 2007, pg.29).
Even though sex is constantly in our face, as a western society, we have SO MUCH shame around it. All of us, I mean all of us, have held shame related to sex at some point. Some of us it is about our bodies or desires, and some of it is just about sex in general. And we generally learn this shame very young.
Where do you hold shame? Do you think sex is dirty? What about masturbation? Do you hold shame about who you are attracted to? Or the types of sex you desire? Are you ashamed to/that you watch porn? That your body looks a certain way or does a certain thing? Do you think ‘certain types’ of people (ie. Not ‘good girls’, etc) have certain types of sex?
Shame is the biggest deterrent to confidence (and experiencing pleasure).
Getting clear on your shame is paramount in overcoming it, so you can feel more confident. And be compassionate and gentle with yourself as you uncover these. It’s not your fault you think them. And there’s just no need to feel shame over feeling shame.
2. Ask questions “Says Who?” and “So What?”
Now that you have a clear list of all your shame scripts (all the ‘shoulds’), let’s challenge them. Ask yourself, “Says who?”. Who says your body has to look a certain way or you have to like a certain thing? Who the fuck says bodies aren’t supposed to have cellulite?
Sometimes we are able to identify the source of these scripts- a parent, the church, a first partner. Other times they are so covert (ie. just a general tool of the patriarchy/white-supremacy/capitalism) that we aren’t sure where they come from. But one thing is for sure, they are deeply engrained and noticing them is necessary to change them.
Then ask yourself do you actually believe these thoughts? Or are they so engrained you have never stopped to question them? Better yet, do you WANT to believe them? These are not your your thoughts. You weren’t born into the world thinking you should hide your FUPA or all your sexual magic. You were taught that shit. You get to decide if you want to believe them, and if you don’t, you don’t have to.
Asking yourself “so what?” when you think about a certain sexual experience can also be a super power and help you feel more confident. Take the example of farting during sex. While I am sure it is less than preferable for most people, when we actually take a moment to ask ourselves. “so what?”, the answer we come up with is often way less scary than we think.
What would happen if I farted during sex? I would likely be embarrassed. Can I handle that? Yes (cuz I can handle any emotion). Maybe my partner would leave or laugh or say something rude. Would that hurt in the moment? Yes. Would it ultimately tell me that whether they are super cool or a jerk and not worth anymore of my time? Also yes.
So often we are driven by a fear, but we don’t really stop and ask ourselves what that fear actually is. Most of the time what we actually fear is an emotion. We fear feeling an emotion. We fear feeling vulnerable. But when we remember that emotions are just sensations in our bodies (albeit often unpleasant or painful ones), we are reminded that they won’t kill us. That most of the time, we can experience it and be okay. And often when we walk ourselves through our “worst case scenario”, we realize it isn’t as bad as we thought. Or at least that we could manage it.
3. Share your shame scripts
Dr. Brown also states that the ultimate antidote to shame is empathy. Shame hates being spoken. It takes away it’s power. So talking to a friend or trusted confidante (could even be a therapist or a coach) about your shame around sex can help take away its power.
More often than not, you’ll realize that you are not alone. That many people have the same insecurities or that your body/sexual fantasies/performance are ‘normal’.
4. Think backwards- What do you want to be thinking?
If we want to start thinking more confidently (cuz confidence is in the mind), we need to change our thoughts. But what thoughts to think??
One exercise you can try is thinking of one of your most fabulous sexual experiences. One where you felt like fire. Could be solo or with other people.
When did you feel vibrant and sexy? What were you doing?
What were you feeling in order to be doing that thing?
What were you thinking in order to be feeling that way?
Bam! Those are your sexual confidence thoughts.
You’re doing your thang. You are present. In your body.
You feel alive. Electric. Sensual. Powerful.
You are thinking, “fuck this feels good”, “I’m a goddamn goddess/god/warrior/queen/unicorn” “This feels right”, “I’m powerful”, “I’m sexy af”, “Damn my thighs look strong”, “I’m a pleasure giving and receiving magician” etc.
Ideally, these are the thoughts you want to be thinking on the reg. Especially right before, during, and after sexy time.
Perhaps these are a bit lofty and you just want to not be thinking such negative thoughts. What are some thoughts that provide you relief from your shame scripts? They could be thoughts like “I am enough”, “I am lovable”, “I deserve to experience pleasure”. Write out the thoughts you want to be thinking.
5. Work your way up- Thought Tiers
So we want to start intercepting these negative shame scripts with these more positive thoughts you identified in Tip #4. For many of us, we have difficulty starting with these thoughts. Because you have to believe them. They won’t work if you don’t. So you may need to start ‘smaller’ and work your way up; what I call “Thought Tiers”.
Start with a neutral thought you can believe. So it may be something like “I have a body” or “I have a stomach” or “sexy is subjective”. Just something neutral and less negative than your shame scripts.
Then you have to start implementing them. Saying them Every. Damn. Day. In the morning. At night. When you have those negative thoughts and definitely when you are in the bedroom (but it is important you practice them outside the bedroom too). Call them thoughts. Call them mantras. Whatever you want. Just start practicing them.
You are trying to rewire your brain.
Your brain is on auto-pilot and automatically goes to your shame scripts without you even noticing. First, we are noticing them. Then we are practicing implementing new thoughts. Forming new pathways. It will take time, so be patient with yourself.
When you have that thought engrained and you fully believe it, you can move onto the next one, what I call more “peaceful thoughts”. So this may look something like “I have cellulite and that’s okay”, “I can provide my partner pleasure in a variety of ways” or “I am a passionate and/or thoughtful lover” or “There are lots of ways to be sexy” or “I am allowed to enjoy sex”.
And when you have the hang of those, you can move up to your thoughts you identified in Tip #4 (or just thoughts that are helpful to you that you can believe), like “I’m pretty damn amazing” or “I’m sexy” or “I create and experience pleasure all the time”, or “I’m a goddess”.
6. Do things that make you feel sexy
When do you feel your most confident? What makes you feel sexy? I’m legit asking you- go ahead and write these down. I’ll wait.
Do you feel sexy when you dance, stretch, get dressed up, workout, juggle, eat a sandwich, recite Shakespeare, mow the lawn? What makes you feel sexy for YOU, not for someone else?
Do you feel confident when you are cooking, presenting, playing guitar?
Now do those things more often. Make time for them. Doing things that make you feel sexy make you feel more confident. Do something that makes you feel confident before you have sexy times (I’ve even heard that power poses can help) so you can go into sexual experiences as your most confident self.
7. Practice Self-Worship & Body Appreciation
This is sort of a continuation of Tip #6, but how do you pay tribute to yourself? How do you show your body appreciation?
I like to call these self-worship practices. Practices where you take time to do things that make you feel sexy, make you feel in your body, where you take time to appreciate all the wonderful things your body does for you and all the pleasure it allows you to experience. In fact, I suggest thanking your body daily and even writing it a thank-you letter for all it does and has done for you.
I like to think of self-worship as treating yourself as if you were the queen/king/majestic human that you are.
Treating yourself lavishly and tuning into your body and pleasure (more on this in a minute). Maybe this has some elements of “fake it till you make it”, but focusing on yourself, your pleasure, and treating yourself like a goddess helps you feel like a goddess/more confident sexually.
Some self-worship practices could include things like:
Having a bath full of rose petals
Lovingly washing every body part in the shower
Writing yourself a love letter
Admiring your reflection
Rubbing yourself with lavish body cream
8. Learn a skill
If there are certain skills in the bedroom you are insecure about, educating yourself is a great way to build more confidence. There are so many good sex educators out there and so many amazing classes (Check out my Sexy Ed Series) that can teach you about sex- from communication, to kink, to oral, to how to squirt.
If you want to know about it, there is probably someone out there who can teach you.
Follow sex educators online, look at book recommendations, and listen to podcasts. Also, submerging yourself in these sex positive spaces will help normalize sex, your desires, and your body, all which help undo shame scripts.
9. Ask for what you need to feel more confident
Sometimes we need some help feeling more confident. And while I would love for all of us to feel super confident without validation from other people, that is a tall order and definitely takes time and practice.
So, see if you can ask for what you need to feel more confident. “I need the lights lower to start” or “I would really love a lot of verbal confirmation/compliments”, “I love it when you tell me you like ___ about me”, “When I do ____, I need you to say/do _____” etc.
Asking for what you need (before you get into the bedroom) to feel more comfortable and confident in the bedroom, although difficult, can be a real game changer.
10. Look at other bodies
If you are feeling insecure about certain parts of your body, I highly suggest looking at other people’s bodies. Watching ‘feminist’ or ‘amateur’ porn with “real” bodies (this can be helpful for fantasies as well), following body positive or body acceptance activists, as well as sex educators, can all expose you to varied types of bodies. If you own a vulva and are insecure about it, I highly suggest The Vulva Project.
You can often even write in your questions/insecurities to many sex educators or podcasts. What you will find more often than not, is that whatever you are worried about is “normal” and that you, in fact, are not alone.
11. Get more comfortable with pleasure
This one is so big, it deserves its own blog (link), but I did want to mention that I think the more we become comfortable with and access pleasure in our lives, the more confident we get. Perhaps this is in part because sex becomes more about experiencing and providing pleasure than it does about what things look like or do and we begin to recognize that shame is a direct deterrent from our pleasure.
Getting more comfortable with pleasure in the bedroom starts with experiencing more pleasure outside the bedroom.
In order to do so, I suggest writing a pleasure list of all the stuff that brings you pleasure, scheduling in your pleasure, incorporating play, and taking time out of your day to pause and turn inward.
Obviously I suggest masturbating to get more familiar with what you like and how to communicate that to partners. I also recommend reminding yourself that sex is in large part about experiencing (and giving) pleasure.
Removing the goal of orgasming or the pressure to perform (ie. focusing on how you look, sound, act in performative or contrived ways) helps you to centre pleasure. I like to use the word “pleasure” to refocus myself when I am getting too caught up in shame scripts or having an orgasm, as a reminder that I am there to experience pleasure (and that can look all kinds of ways).
12. Tune into your body
Also sort of a continuation of the last tip, but doing things that tune you into your body will help you experience more pleasure (and ultimately more confidence). Because pleasure is such an embodied experience, we must be IN our bodies to experience it. Being in our bodies helps us connect to ourselves and our desires, which helps combat shame and increases confidence.
When we are connected to our bodies we can make decisions about sex from a place of pleasure, rather than a place of shame. Doing activities that bring you into your body like breathwork, dance, yoga, body scans, somatic experiencing work, paying attention to your body’s cues, especially when you ask it a question, etc. will all help you “tune into” your body and experience more pleasure.
And you thought sexual confidence was reserved only for excessively hot people (spoiler alert, most of them aren’t confident anyway). It’s in your mind and it is available to anyone, you included. Now. So what are you waiting for? Go get your sexy ass self out there and start having better sex.
You deserve it.