Bringing Sexy Back: Reclaiming Your Sexuality

If you’ve been out of the dating scene for a while, are thinking about entering a new relationship, or have found that your relationship has become “sexless”, the idea of having a sexual encounter can be very exciting, but also very nerve-racking. It’s easy to lose touch with your sexual self, so it’s important to give your body and mind permission to feel pleasure and reawaken your sexuality. Here are a few suggestions you can try, to feel more sexual and open to the possibility of experiencing renewed sexual pleasure:

Be open to the possibility that some of your concerns about sex might be quite overblown. So first, list the things that worry you most about reclaiming your sexuality or that you are fearing right now about sex. Once you’ve made your list, it’s important to see if your fears and anxieties are realistic. If not, make a commitment to yourself to replace unrealistic beliefs with ones that serve you. For example, if you write; “I worry my sexual partner might not find me attractive”; replace that with, “This person is expressing interest in being intimate with me, so where’s the evidence that he/she is not attracted to me”? Practice catching yourself every time you find yourself focusing on one of your worrisome beliefs; and replace it with a new one that’s not fear based.

How you feel about your body often affects your ability to feel excited about sex. Make another list of the things that you’re not happy with about your body. Notice the things you’re ready, willing and able to alter and those, which are beyond your control. Instead of concentrating on how your body could be different, see if you can shift your focus to changing your attitude about your body insecurities instead. Usually, no one else is noticing those “flaws” you see but you!

Feeling attracting is most of the battle. Much of your sexuality comes from how you think of yourself as a sexual being. So if you do things to feel sexier, you’re giving your mind the opportunity to catch up with you. Maybe this means putting on a sexy outfit, wearing lingerie underneath your clothing, or putting on a little extra makeup. Perhaps getting pampered in some way, sleeping with satin sheets, taking a bubble bath, or reading a steamy book can help you to hit the right chord. You know what makes you feel sexier, do it and notice whether this helps with your reawakening.

When you are involved in any activity, sexual or not, it can be very pleasant to focus in on the sensory experiences around you. For example, if you are taking a walk, tune into the sounds of nature around you, become aware of the crunch of leaves under your feet, feel the breeze on your skin and take notice of the way your body feels as you take each step. Becoming more aware of experiencing sensuously pleasurable moments in your daily life can go a long way toward helping you to stay present and attuned to your sensory experience during sex.

Your sexuality is a part of you, even if it has felt dormant for a while. With some effort to reconnect with your sexual desires and by refusing to let your fears and anxieties get in the way, you can very quickly open yourself to many new, exciting and pleasurable experiences!

If Holiday Stress is a Disease, The Virus is Your Expectations

The holiday season stereotypically has always been portrayed as a time of fun, joy and warmth with family, friends and colleagues. But it can also be a time of pain and high expectations. And the inevitable disappointments that follow those expectations are often to blame for holiday stress, which has gradually, but now permanently become part of our lexicon.

High hopes about the holiday season — the expectations you put on yourself, as well as on others around you — may magnify whatever is already not going right in your life. And remember this about all expectations: they are a nothing more than premeditated disappointments. For instance; if you’re having financial difficulties, a family conflict, relationship issues or health problems – added expectations that convert to disappointments about the holidays could push your existing stress over the limit.

So resist the urge to set yourself up for more disappointment by comparing this year to the best holiday season of your life, for example. Also, avoid making self-defeating comparisons between yourself and people whom you imagine to be happier than you, have better relationships, great family moments or more money. Comparing your reality with someone else’s image is an almost sure fire way to trigger feelings of disappointment in you.

Instead, consider how you can make the best of your own situation. For example, if you’re alone for the holidays, try volunteering to help make the season a little nicer for someone in greater need. Opportunities abound to volunteer at senior centers, hospitals, shelters, churches and you get the idea. People who volunteer to help others usually find it to be an extremely gradifying experience.

And remember it’s okay to be a little selfish, too. For example, buy yourself a holiday present, or indulge yourself by taking a bubble bath, reaching out to old friends you may have lost contact with, reading a book, learning a new skill, perhaps by even cooking a favorite meal for yourself or however you most enjoy your own solitude.

Holiday stress can also come in the form of too many obligations. If you’re overwhelmed by everyone else’s expectations to spend time with relatives or friends, try to remember that there’s only one of you and you can’t be all things to all people. But you can surely burn yourself out by trying. Limit your commitments, simplify your schedule, and prioritize your activities. Even with loved ones, don’t be afraid to graciously decline or reduce burdensome obligations.

No matter what your holiday plans, try to maintain a sense of humor as reality inevitably crashes into your expectations. So manage those expectations. Keep them realistic. And remember, the less you expect, the freer and more lighthearted you will feel.

Whether you love the holiday season, hate it or anything in between, never forget this one truism: all seasons have a beginning, a middle and an end. In other words, this too shall pass!

Wishing you a holiday with less expectations (aka stress) and thereby more sparkle and joy!

For a Stronger Relationship, Resolve Your Conflicts

No two people can agree on everything, but disagreements or arguments in your relationship don’t have to end with one or both of you angry or in tears. Here are some suggestions to make the bumps in your relationship a little less difficult and more satisfying.

Create a code word-Very rarely when communication goes awry do both partners become angry at the exact same time. So create a code word to use when the conversation starts to get out of hand.  For example, if voices raise and the conversation starts escalating in a negative direction, the less angry partner can say “timeout” (or another calming word or phrase that you both choose together) to stop the conversation in its tracks.  One partner can say this word and remind the other that it’s time to pull the plug on the conversation, cool off and return to the topic at a later time when the conversation can be more productive. This way, it’s much less likely to turn into a full-blown argument.

You’re not a mind reader-And neither is your partner. Unless you express your needs, it’s difficult for someone else to know what they are. When you expect your partner to know how you’re feeling during a fight and what to do about it, you could be setting yourself up for failure— simply because you probably won’t get the response you were hoping for.

Don’t procrastinate- Many times when attempting to communicate turns into a fight, the actual issue never gets discussed.  Perhaps one of you apologizes, the issue fades away and it’s never resolved.  But the same issue will come up again and again if it’s never confronted.  How do you typically avoid difficult conversations?  Maybe you change the subject or walk away from conversations you don’t want to have; but the problem won’t go away on it’s own.  How do you and your partner blow off discussing sticky issues? Have a conversation about this and together, agree to a strategy to get past it.

Two brains are better than one-If it usually feels like you’re on separate sides when trying to come up with a solution to a problem, it’s time to start playing on the same team again. Brainstorm solutions together without judging or analyzing them.  Once you have a list of all your options, you can then discuss each potential option and make a decision together.  Most importantly, talk through each solution until you get to a win-win.

Nothing is more toxic than blame-Be aware of yourself and the way you can change communication between you and your partner.  Look at yourself objectively, remove all of the blame and then see if there are any things you typically do that don’t help solve a problem or discuss an issue.

Focus on what’s important-Forget the small stuff; and ask yourself, if this issue is going to be important in a week? A month? Or a year?  Pick your battles carefully and discuss the things that are truly important to both of you for the long run.

Most of all, don’t lose sight of why you’re bothering to fight in the first place. If it’s worth the energy to make a change in your relationship or voice your opinion, it means you’re invested in finding a resolution to the issue. Through ups and downs, it’s important to always keep in mind the parts of your relationship that you are fighting for.  Working together to resolve issues before a fight gets out of hand can feel wonderful and be a delightful reminder of why the two of you make a great pair!

Don’t Let Your Expectations Do You In

Whether your anger stems from road rage, your relationship, your job, or anything else in your life, the underlying cause might be the same. It’s easy to blame the driver who cut you off, your partner, or your boss for “making you feel angry”, but it’s your expectations that are probably the real culprit. The truth is, expectations are premeditated disappointments. So whenever you’re angry, look for the expectation you have that was not met. The good news is that to the extent that you can change your expectation you can inoculate yourself against anger. And it’s important to do this, because your anger only hurts you!

To stop your expectations from turning into anger and thus getting the best of you, first try to identify your angry triggers. What typically triggers an angry or hostile response in you? Jot down a list of these triggers. Once you’ve come up with your list, take an item that you’ve identified and ask yourself a few questions: Is this really going to be important down the road; in an hour, next week, in a few months or  next year? Is it at all possible that the person with whom I’m angry and I are both right, but have different points of view? What can I do to let go of this anger, since it’s in my best interest to do so?

Next, notice what your typical response is to the trigger. Imagine the most recent time you felt angry. Was your response to the situation helpful or harmful? Was it worth the pain or the energy you used to become enraged? Did you choose your actions or were you merely reacting too quickly?

If it’s becoming clear to you that your angry responses are not serving your best interest, it might instead be time to try some of these proven techniques to manage angry feelings when they occur:

  • Close your eyes and imagine your anger as an object.  What color is it? How big is it and how is it shaped?  As you visualize your anger as an object, imagine it breaking up into small pieces and then evaporating into thin air.
  • You can also visualize the person at whom you are angry.  Imagine what this person looks like, and visualize him or her getting smaller and smaller, and thus less significant.
  • When you’re holding the anger in your body, scan your body from head to toe and notice where in your body you’re holding it. Tense this part of your body as hard as you can until you can feel the pain of your tension at its extreme. Then release the tension.  As you do, notice how your tension releases and your anger melts away. For example, if you notice your shoulders are tense when you’re feeling angry, energetically lift your shoulders up to your ears, and release them and relax. You can do a version of this with almost any part of your body
  • Customize your strategy. What is uniquely calming and tension releasing to you? Listening to music? Vigorous exercise? Reading? Watching a movie? Taking a nice walk in nature? Doing Yoga? Meditation? Make a list of your calmest activities and commit to doing them when they will be most helpful for interrupting a tense mood.

The next time your disappointments about someone not meeting an expectation elicits hostile feelings, try a new strategy to deal with your reaction. There’s nobody I know of, who doesn’t have to put up with some situations or hassles that they are powerless to change. But where you do have power is in your reaction. In order to react differently, try some of these strategies and see how much better you feel on the long run. And make sure to work on the one constant factor behind almost all angry reactions—your expectations! When less energy is given to anger, there’s more room to enjoy the things in your life that return joy and fulfillment!


Make Your Relationship Stronger With These Communication Tools

When life’s in full swing, it’s easy to neglect communicating to your partner what’s important in your relationship. And you’re communicating well, when your partner actually hears the message you mean for him or her to hear. This doesn’t always happen, which can be a source of frustration for both of you.

Maybe you and/or your partner aren’t conveying your feelings well or you avoid expressing yourself because it typically turns into a fight. Or it just seems easier to deal with things yourself than to articulate what’s going on to your partner. Whatever the reason your communication is a little off, together,  you can certainly make the decision to press the ‘reset’ button to reestablish good communication with your partner, if you did it better at one point. If you feel you never communicated well, it’s never too late to start! Try some of these suggestions in your relationship to get your point across much better: Read more