3. Take a healthy inventory.
Sure, there are plenty of body parts that seem problematic at first glance in the mirror. For most women, it’s the parts that naturally change during our baby-making years — hips, tummy, breasts, etc. But chances are, you’ve got far more parts that you are pleased or at least satisfied with than not. Undress and stand up straight and tall in front of a full length mirror. Start from the top of your head and go all the way to the tips of your toes. How do you feel about your hair, eyes, nose, smile, ears, jaw line, etc.? Your shoulders, arms, elbows, wrists, hands, fingers, fingernails? Your chest, ribs, belly button, spine? Thighs, knees, calves, ankles, feet, toes, toenails?
Rather than focus on the few negatives all of the time, find the positives, and introduce your internal commentator (that voice inside your head that never shuts up) to them. Insist that she compliment you about the good parts far more often than she criticizes your other parts. For example, I used to beat myself up over my “spare tire” that seemed to encircle my mid-section – from my lower abdomen, around my hips, and my derriere. But one day I noticed that my breasts were full and round – the kind that many women pay big bucks to have artificially installed – and I smiled. Lately I’ve noticed how my outer thighs and calves are extremely well defined for a woman my age (heck, for a woman any age), and I decided that I really like my legs. Someone said to me recently, “You could be a foot model!” Rather than say, “No! Look at this scar on my toe!” I simply replied, “Thank you.” Now when I look at my feet, I realize that person was right. They are beautiful. Lots of my body parts are beautiful, and I’m allowed to love them. Lots of your parts are beautiful. Learn to love them as well.
4. Focus on function, and be grateful.
One of the best things we can do to enhance sexual confidence is to work out regularly. The goal isn’t to try to look like a supermodel. Only laxatives create that look, and I can’t recommend them. The goal of exercising regularly is to release the wonderful endorphins that are natural mood enhancers and confidence builders.
I know, I know. Working out is hard. But the more you do it, the easier it gets. It even becomes fun if you find activities you enjoy. I used to hate working out with a passion. The huge mirrors in the gym seemed more like carnival funhouse mirrors. I’d see my reflection and think, Surely that’s not what I really look like!
As I climbed the Stairmaster, my focus was on my little love handles and post-pregnancy pooch. As I walked on the treadmill, my focus was on my jiggly arms or my bouncing breasts. I left the gym more discouraged than encouraged, even after a great endorphin-producing workout. However, the older I get, the more I enjoy working out, even though my body is pretty much the same shape and size as it has always been. What’s the difference? I focus on function rather than aesthetics. As I walk, climb, row, lift, stretch, etc., I pay attention to the fluid motion of my body and the strength of the muscles being used. I celebrate the fact that I’m in my forties, and all of my body parts work beautifully. That makes me feel beautiful, which translates into added sexual confidence.
To be continued…
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Excerpted from The Sexually Confident Wife: Connecting with Your Husband Mind*Body*Heart*Spirit by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2008. All Rights Reserved. Published by Random House Inc, New York, NY. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval.