What is ‘Self Love’ and how can we achieve more of this in our lives?

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I spoke to Sarah Rose Bright, one of SHH’s senior therapists about Self Love and other topics close to her heart.

Sarah, you call yourself an Sex and Pleasure coach, what exactly does that mean?

I support people on a wide range of sexual matters that are important to them to overcome.  Common themes for men might include erection problems and early ejaculation, whilst for women, body and self confidence issues, not being able to relax during sex and inability to orgasm regularly come up as challenges.

Help is provided not just to improve a client’s sex life but also so they can flourish in all areas of their lives. Often when we have a sexual problem it will impact the rest of our life as well.

What kinds of people seek Sex and Pleasure coaching?

People from all walks of life.  Sexual problems and Self Love are not age or gender related issues, they affect many different types of people.

What are your views on women using medication to help improve their sex lives?

So many sexual problems can be overcome in natural ways rather than using pharmaceutical medications, which are so commonly prescribed these days.  Take lack of sexual desire for example, there has been a rush to find the ‘Pink Viagra’ and last year Flibanserin was approved by the FDA in America.  This pill reports to help women to regain their libido.

I understand that there is a place for certain medications in certain circumstances, but I’m totally against medication to help increase sexual desire for women.

The research shows that the effects are minimal and if someone has low desire one of the first questions I ask is ‘what turns you on in your life’, not just sexually but in all areas?

Very often if you have low desire you probably aren’t doing anything that makes you feel good in your life or very little.  You maybe overworked and stressed in life and there may be relationship problems.

These are the issues that will need addressing along with any intimacy challenges that clients are having, so desire can increase naturally rather than through any medication.

So, how does practising ‘Self Love’ help with desire?

One of the reasons I’m so passionate about Self Love is because it’s about feeling good inside and out and it affects everything you do including sex.  And if you don’t love yourself, you’re not going to feel desire or desirable.

People come to me and they say they want to learn lots of different techniques, but I explain it’s not always what you do in the bedroom that counts.  Confidence in skills and techniques have little impact if you don’t feel good about yourself.

Many people that I work with don’t feel good about themselves for all sorts of different reasons and so much of that is due to lack of Self Love.  Practising Self Love is a fundamental part of how I work with people.

What actually is ‘Self Love’?

If we can learn to be our own best friend and support ourselves to be kinder it would have a massive impact, not only to ourselves, but also the people around us.

If we are critical and don’t value ourselves then we are probably manifesting relationships that are the same.  Our outer world reflects how we feel inside.  If we can learn to love ourselves we will really help  flourish in life.

Why do people find ‘Self Love’ challenging?

First of all we aren’t taught this at school.  I would have lessons on how to be a happy human being because we mostly learn through trial and error.

Many people have grown up with parents that are not positive models in this respect.  We might have had critical parents, not felt valued or even been abused.  Those early dynamics set into play how we treat ourselves.

We also live in a culture that values competition and through this we learn comparison from an early age, which of course isn’t helped by the media and beauty industry which defines how we ‘should’ look.

Also in western culture people think that if we love ourselves this equates to being arrogant, but it’s a very different quality.  Self Love is not about being superior to anyone, it’s about everyone being equal and not just accepting, but also celebrating ourselves for our gifts and our uniqueness.

How can we change this?

The first step is to recognise there is something we can change.  Continually beating yourself up and telling yourself you aren’t good enough is a big problem for a lot of people and this has become their norm.  Just recognising there is nothing fundamentally wrong with you and that you can change is a breakthrough for some people.

The change happens in small steps, which leads to big changes over time.  Exercising what I like to call the Self Love muscle is a step towards this.

It is a discipline, every day doing little things that over time make a big difference, there is no short cuts with this.  The more we keep working at Self Love the more it becomes effortless over time.

What practices can we do to start the shift to more ‘Self Love’?

I believe it’s really important to say it’s not a superficial feeling as we want to get to a place of really knowing and experiencing it in our bodies.

For some people this daily practices can really help to support this including exercise or meditation and for others, they may need deeper support such as therapy or coaching.

The first thing is to notice what you are saying to yourself.  Many people can spend hours in a whole conversation of negative thoughts in their heads and they feel exhausted by it.

Start to observe some of the thoughts you are thinking as they are really great clues to what you can change.  Once you have awareness of this, you can ask yourself ‘Is this really true?’ and to start to challenge these thoughts.

If you are saying all the time I’m an idiot, I’m useless or I never get anything right, start to challenge those thoughts and then you can start to make changes and begin to feel more empowered.  Practice being kind and supportive to yourself.  Ask, what would someone who loves themselves say to themselves?  For many people this is really hard at first.

It’s also really good to look at the areas in your life that take away your energy.

It might be simple things that drain you for example, there is someone in your life that you always say ‘yes’ to but you mean ‘no’, and resentment builds up, or a conversation you really need to have with someone but you can’t face the confrontation.  There could be so many matters in your week that could be taking your energy.

Another good tool is gratitude practice, to be thankful for what you do have.  Even as simple as ‘I can breath at this moment’ or ‘I have a healthy body’.

However what I really love is an appreciation practice.  I have noticed that people do gratitude practices but not for themselves – it is always external gratitude focused away from one’s self.

At the end of every day write down 3-5 things that you appreciate of yourself for that day.  Doing this regularly for three months can be very transformational.  For example, ‘I appreciate that I went for a walk at lunchtime instead of sitting in the office where I don’t feel happy’, or, ‘I appreciate that I made time to do something I love’, or ‘I noticed myself calling myself useless and I changed it’.  It’s all about refocusing the mind and energy onto something positive.

Breathing is also important, so many of us breathe shallowly which cultivates flight or fight, fear and anxiety.  One of the fastest things to change your state is to change your body.  Changing the way you breathe can change your life.

Any practices that get us in our bodies, walking, dancing while you cook the dinner, going for a massage, feeling the sun on your skin.  There are so many little things you can do to help you feel better about yourself. It’s food for your soul.

Follow what turns you on in life and find what gives you pleasure.  If you do what makes you feel good this will have such a massive impact on your health and wellbeing.  And that is an act of Self Love in itself.

If we loved ourselves more how would this benefit us, and the people around us?

I always use the example of the oxygen mask.  You have to put yours on first and then you help the children and the people around you.

So think of your energy like fuel, if you always give and give to other people and not give to yourself, you will just deplete yourself and build up resentments and eventually burn yourself out.  If you can give to yourself first, then when you do give, you give from a fuller cup, so you have more to give to the people around you, which will benefit your health, wellbeing and intimate life.  You become much more of a magnet for good things than if you come from a place of exhaustion and resentment.

What would be a great book to read around ‘Self Love’?

There are a few I would love to give.  Have a look at the reviews and see what resonates.

I particularly love:

Pleasure, The Secret Ingredient in Happiness by Marisol Garcia.

The Art of Extreme Self Care by Cheryl Richardson.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown.

Radical Self-Love by Gala Darling, this has recently been published so have only just started reading it.

Who inspires you?

There are so many people!

Brene Brown – her amazing work on shame, authenticity and vulnerability have inspired and empowered millions.  Healing our shame, becoming comfortable with vulnerability and owning our uniqueness are all fundamentals for Self Love.  Do check her books out and her TED talks especially:

https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability?language=en

To find out more about SHH Retreats click here

Interview by Lucy Arrowsmith

 

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