Author Stacey Gorlicky on the ways that developing self-esteem and getting in touch with your body can enhance your time between the sheets.
For registered psychotherapist Stacey Gorlicky, author of the new book Food, Sex & You (Dundurn), a woman’s interactions with food and sex are directly linked to self-esteem and body image. If she feels self-hatred, she will also usually experience disordered eating, problems in the bedroom or both. Gorlicky chatted with us by phone about finding self-love and how women can become more in touch with their bodies and, in turn, their sexuality.
Food, Sex & You by Stacey Gorlicky, $22, indigo.ca.
Signs that your poor self-image may be impacting your sex life
Poor self-esteem can show up in the bedroom in two different ways. If a woman is in a relationship and “undresses in the dark, feels shame, doesn’t want to be touched, can’t let go and can’t experience orgasm,” chances are good that she doesn’t value herself enough to fully enjoy sex, says Gorlicky. Some part of her likely feels as though she doesn’t deserve to be loved.
Another woman might feel like she can’t say no to men and must do everything that they want in order for them to love her. In the same way that this woman might use and abuse her body by binge eating, starving herself or using drugs and alcohol, she also allows her sexual partners to take advantage of her.
If you think that your self-perception has impacted your ability to fully experience the joys of sex, think about all of the reasons that you don’t feel good about yourself, then brainstorm ways that you can overcome these blocks in order to feel self-love. Of course, this process might be easier with the help of a therapist. “I want to teach women to love and approve of themselves 100 percent, 100 percent of the time,” says Gorlicky.
You can also create a special spot where you go to be by yourself. Add items to this space or “altar” that remind you of happy, safe times—for example, a rock from a trip to the Atlantic Ocean. Go to that place to say your mantra, which could be something like “I love and approve of myself,” Gorlicky’s personal mantra from her own time with food addiction.
Becoming connected with your body
Often when people visit Gorlicky for therapy, she finds that they are experiencing obsessive thoughts and can’t get in touch with their body, heart and genitals. In order to experience pleasurable sex, “you have to be in a place where you’re not thinking about the kids or work or the paper you have to write,” she says. “You just have to be with that person in the bedroom.”
Gorlicky does body work with her clients to help them separate from their worries and get more in touch with their bodily sensations. “I like to put people on a table and ask them to let go of all the thoughts in their mind—put them in a bubble,” she says. “Then I ask them to go to their heart space and ask their heart what it’s feeling. What colours do they see? What shapes? What is their heart asking them? Where’s the pain?” Once you’ve learned the technique, you can practice it on your own at home.
Though a course in tantric sex may not be for everyone, Gorlicky found that it opened her up to her sexuality in a way that she had never experienced. “I felt like I was being cheated out of life,” she says, because she couldn’t experience the pleasure of sex. She decided to take a course in tantric sex, even though she thought that it was kind of silly at first. Soon, though, she became a convert without ever taking off her clothes. “You look into people’s eyes and see them at their soul level,” she says. The fact that you take the course with strangers makes it all the more powerful because it’s a space without judgment or preconceived ideas. She was able to appreciate her own strength and get out of her head so that she could finally experience multiple orgasms.
Though the road to self-acceptance can be a long one, now is the time to start. As Gorlicky has proven, it’s possible to overcome self-hatred and experience a sex life like you’ve only imagined.
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