If you hired a coach to help you improve your confidence in the bedroom, you might assume that coach would teach you fancy sex tricks, introduce you to special mind-blowing sex techniques, and arm you with info like “how to please your partner in three easy steps.”
But let’s pause and think for a moment about what is actually getting in the way, for most people, when it comes to lack of confidence in the bedroom.
The vast majority of people lack confidence around sex because of:
Body image issues, ranging from “they’ll see my fat rolls” to “my boobs look weird from this angle” to “my penis is too small.”
Performance anxiety, such as self-consciousness about taking too long to orgasm, not taking long enough, not getting or staying wet or hard, etc.
Fear and shame about bodily functions, like fear of fear of having bad breath in the morning, shame about body odor, fear of peeing on accident, or shame about poop and butt stuff).
Fear and shame about the other person judging or rejecting them, which often leads to difficulty speaking up about what they like/want, or establishing boundaries about what they don’t like/want.
Confusion and shame about sex in general, especially including their own sexual desires, preferences, fantasies, history, and what turns them on or gets them off.
I mean, maybe a little, because it can be very reassuring to have a legit-sounding plan to follow.
But sex isn’t supposed to be about following a plan, and for most people those tricks and techniques would only help them avoid the important truth:
that their sexual confidence is impeded not by lack of expertise, but by layers of fear, shame, and insecurity.
Striving to improve sexual confidence by improving sexual technique is a bit like teaching a kid who is afraid of ghosts how to do karate. I mean, it might help on some level to make the kid feel more empowered, but if we’re looking for a quality-of-life improvement, it might be a better investment of time to convince that kid that ghosts don’t exist.
Ya feel me?
The same is true when it comes to body image.
For lack of a better term, I use the term “body confidence” a lot, but really what I help people do is identify and clear away their belief in a bunch of nasty “ghosts” who take the form of shame, fear, lack of self-understanding, and self-consciousness.
We humans are deeply anxious about ending up isolated and alone.
At the very heart of a lot of our most powerful insecurities we find fear of judgment and rejection, anxiety about letting people down or upsetting them, and shame about being unworthy and unlovable.
We are terrified of breaking the rules and being cast out of our community, family, friendships, or intimate relationships. We are terrified that just by being ourselves we’ve already broken a bevy of unforgivable rules— some visible, some invisible.
We are terrified that our weight, shape, size, height, or face makes us wrong and bad and will lead to us ending up laughed at, punished, kicked out, attacked, or alone.
When I ask my clients to explore what would happen if they accepted and embraced their body exactly the way they look today, they describe all manner of possible scary consequences, most of which revolve around disconnection.
“My husband would stop being attracted to me and leave…”
“Everyone at work would realize I’m fat and lazy and I’d get fired…”
“My friends would stop hanging out with me…”
“I’ll never find love and end up dying alone in my apartment surrounded by my cats…”
(Regarding that last one, my clients are very funny.)
Anyway, a lack of confidence in any area of life often comes down to fear of isolation, fear of pushing people away, and the shame of being secretly bad or unworthy, and I believe in treating the problem directly.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge believer in skill-building, and the power of increased efficacy on confidence. It’s just that if you try to skip this step and dive into learning the tips and tricks about how to “do better” instead, you just end up becoming a more highly skilled insecure person.
Not to mention, the skill-building required when it comes to improving body image isn’t what most people think. It’s not about learning to control food, or dress for your body type, or believe you look good. It’s more like learning to tune into what you’re feeling, tolerate discomfort, face your fears, become a strong self-advocate, engage in 24/7 self-care, and trust yourself and your body.
And those are really hard to do when you’re constantly afraid of being rejected and abandoned.
This is one reason I don’t believe confidence can be built alone; it requires support, and community, and connection.
Confidence requires the compassion and empathy of people who still love you as you face your fears and challenge your beliefs and establish your boundaries, and change, and grow.
Confidence requires feeling seen and heard and understood.
People often DM me to ask for tips and tricks to improve both their sexual confidence, and their body confidence, and this is always my response: explore your fear and shame in a container of safety and connection.
And if you don’t have that container yet, this is where coaches and therapists come in.